The Celtics are a team full of history, of tradition, of good reputation. Viewed by many as the most storied franchise, they boast a variety of talented players, legendary coaches, and exciting announcers. They have the league's most championships, with 17, and a number of the greatest players of all time. Hall-Of-Famers such as Bill Russell, Larry Bird, and future HOFers such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett come to mind when talking about the Celtics.
Here are my top ten favorite Celtics of all time including coaches, announcers, and obviously, players.
10. Glen "Big Baby" Davis: Glen Davis was drafted in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. He was selected in the second round along with teammate Gabe Pruitt. Davis won his first championship in his rookie year. Now, in his second year, he plays alongside one of his childhood idols, Kevin Garnett. Davis is currently in a starting role due to the fact that KG is injured.
Davis has talent, and a lot of it. At 6-9, and 289 pounds, Davis gives the Celtics a huge advantage when both teams go small. He is perhaps the most athletic player on the Celtics, although you could make an argument for teammate Billy Walker. He can run the floor, finish under the basket, rebound on both offense and defense, and use his large upper body effectively when matching up against bigger opponents.
Not only does Davis have talent, but he is also very emotional. During a game this season against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kevin Garnett had gotten upset as the Celtics had let their 25 point lead over Rip City shrivel to a still comfortable 13 point lead. Garnett started yelling at Davis, and Davis felt upset since he couldn't do anything about Garnett's ranting and raving (I mean, this is KG we're talking about here). Davis proceeded to cry on the bench. However he doesn't mind the fact that he is emotional. He said during a Boston Globe interview that it's just part of his game. It's how he plays.
Davis is a fun player to watch, and I'm sure that he would be a fun player to hang around with as well.
9. Tommy Heinsohn: Heinsohn was a star for the Celtics during the Bill Russell/Bob Cousy era. He has won 10 championships, all with the Celtics, both as a coach and a player. He was inducted in the Hall Of Fame in 1986 as a player. He is currently a part-time announcer for the C's, alongside Mike Gorman.
His playing career was a successful one, to say the least. Heinsohn won the ROY award in 1957, coming out of what was then one of the top basketball programs in the nation, Holy Cross. He is a six-time All-Star, and won eight championships as a player. He was known as the player who was the outlet for coach Red Auerbach's anger, as Auerbach wouldn't dare yell at superstars Bob Cousy and Bill Russell.
He coached the Celtics during the mid-1970s, winning two championships. His teams were stacked with talent, including players such as John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Nate Archibald, and Jo Jo White.
The part of Heinsohn's career that I am actually able to witness is his announcing career. His constant complaining about the refs (which is most of the time necessary) is known throughout the league, as well as his top-notch analyzing skills, and good heart. A winner if there ever was one, Heinsohn is most definitely one of my favorite Celtics.
8. Antoine Walker: Antoine Walker is a player who will always be mentioned when talking about the 1990s and early 2000 Celtics. Famous for his "shimmy shake," Walker was always seen as a character when in a Celtics uniform.
He was temperamental at times, whether it was arguing with referees or players. Nevertheless, he was a leader on the court, as well as in the lockerroom, helped by then-young teammate Paul Pierce.
His skill set included the three-point shot, rebounding, and driving to the basket. He was often clutch at times, especially during the playoffs, hitting a number of game winning shots, mostly threes. He averaged 10.2 boards in his best rebounding year. He made his way to the hoop by using his tremendous strength, as well as ball-handling, able to keep the ball away from the defender effectively and prevented the defender from stealing the ball.
A sure-shot memorable player for young Celtics' fans.
7. Bill Walker: Surprising, I know. But I'm sure you guys know how big of a Billy Walker fan I am, right?
Overshadowed in high school by O.J. Mayo, and in college (KSU) by Michael Beasley, Walker was often not noticed by scouts and fell into the Celtics hands cheap.
He is a great player when driving towards the basket, sprinting down the open floor, or rebounding under the hoop. His sheer strength and quickness get him to the hole alone, but his athleticism and great hands allow him to propel further and rise above defenders to slam the ball down, or lay the ball in gracefully.
Walker is viewed as a player who can be a future star for Boston for some of the reasons listed above. But not only that, Walker's advanced footwork, as well his improved jump shot make Walker a desired young player by many teams.
Walker is already number seven on this list, and as he continues to grow, he could possibly rise.
6. Johnny Most: Johnny Most is possibly the greatest announcer of all time. Below are some of his most famous quotes.
"And......Now there's a steal by Bird! Underneath to DJ who lays it in!!...Right at one second left!! What a play by Bird! Bird stole the inbounding pass, laid it up to DJ, and DJ laid it up and in, and Boston has a one-point lead with one second left! OH, MY, THIS PLACE IS GOING CRAZY!!!"
"And it goes quickly in now to Magic, back over to Worthy and it's picked off! Goes to Henderson and he lays it up and in!! It's all tied up! A great play by Henderson!!"
"Bobby Jones is gonna put the ball into play and the pass hits the top of the backboard and it's over! They won 3 in a row, they came from 3-1 down and they have won the series!!! It's all over!!!"
And of course....
"Greer is putting the ball in play. He gets it out deep and Havlicek steals it!! Over to Sam Jones...Havlicek stole the ball!! It's all over... It's all over!!"
5. Bill Russell: Bill Russell is one of the most accomplished players in NBA. With more rings than fingers (11), Russell played for the Celtics his whole career. Russell was arguably the best rebounder ever, averaging 22.5 rebounds per game in his career.
His storied rivalry with Wilt Chamberlain was the Magic/Jordan/Bird rivalry of the 1950s-60s, the two of them being ferocious rebounders, excellent defenders (mostly Russell in this category), top-notch scorers (mostly Wilt in this category), and most important, the two of them being winners. Russell, as I said above, had more rings than fingers with 11.
Chamberlain won two championships, four MVP awards, was on 10 All-NBA teams, two All-Defensive teams, and was ROY in 1960. He was given the nickname Wilt "The Stilt," for his freakishly long legs, and his enormous stature, standing at 7-1.
One of the most famous encounters these two were involved in was the 1969 "balloon game," a game seven between the talent-stuffed Lakers, and the hungry Celtics. L.A. had planned to drop numerous balloons down from the rafters if the Lakers won the Finals. There was a lot of hype before the game, surrounding L.A.'s "balloon plan."
"When, not if, the Lakers win the title, balloons will be released from the raftors, the USC marching band will play "Happy Days Are Here Again" and broadcaster Chick Hearn will interview Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in that order." - Lakers Owner Jack Cook
"A lot of things can happen but the Lakers can not beat us. They can't beat us. But it's going to be funny watching them take down those balloons." - Bill Russell, when getting word of this plan.
4. Red Auerbach: Red Auerbach, who is most likely the most famous and winningest coach of all time, was a member of the Celtics from 1950-2006. He coached greats such as Heinsohn, Russell, and Cousy. He mentored stars such as Bird, McHale, and Parish. He was a friend to a player still playing today, Paul Pierce.
He has won 938 games in his coaching career, most notably with the Celtics. However he did coach the Washington Capitals and the Tri-City Blackhawks from 1941-1950 before joining Boston. His nine NBA championships is a record shared by hated Lakers' coach Phil Jackson.
He is now seen as a soul up in Heaven, watching over the defending champion Celtics, and guiding them along the way. After, and during parts of the Finals, players like Paul Pierce and coach Doc Rivers would always say "Red's watching over us." Well, after that 24-point lead the Lakers held at halftime was overcome by the Celtics, there really is no other explanation.
One of Red's most famous traits was his cigar smoking. Whenever he felt the Celtics had clinched a game, series, etc., Auerbach would take out a cigar right there and then (remember, everyone smoked in the 50s/60s), and light one up to celebrate a win.
Hopefully, Red will continue to power us to the Finals. If not, Phil Jackson will most likely get that 10th championship!
3. Larry Bird: Larry Bird was one of the greatest Celtics players of all time. With his silky shot, his fantastic ball-handling, unbelievable court vision, his hard-fought rebounding, and his scrappy hustle, Bird was dominant from the time he entered the league, until the time he left it.
During the years before his finger injury, Bird was by far the best player in college (after the struggle in his freshman year), with his ability to knock down most jumpers he attempted, and his rare peripheral vision. Bird was able to pass well, unlike most other forwards, because he could see the whole court with no trouble, and was able to find players for an easy bucket for that reason.
His hustle was also one of the things Bird brought with him. Whether it was diving after loose balls, or jumping for the rebound, Bird gave his team a lot of extra possessions, and a lot of extra shots because of this.
However, Bird wasn't necessarily classified as calm. In a playoff game against the Detroit "Bad Boy" Pistons, he had gotten tangled with possibly the biggest "Bad Boy," Bill Laimbeer. Bird proceeded to wrestled Laimbeer to the ground, and eventually the two had to be separated. Bird, then standing up and being held back by more than a few of his teammates, threw the basketball at Laimbeer. Hey, any chance to hurt a Piston is a good one, right? No? Well, apparently you're not a Celtics fan.
2. Leon Powe: Powe has an amazing story. Growing up as a child in poverty, and for part of his life being homeless, Powe is one player you could say that overcame all odds. His father left him at the age of two, and five years later, his family's house had burnt down. For many years, they were homeless, sleeping in cars, or anything they could find, without their mother, who was off working to have the money to feed them. Powe was considered the guardian of his brothers and sisters. Powe then became a top player in high school, where he played at Oakland Technical High School. Powe's mother died four days before they went on to play the championship.
Leon won his first championship with the Celtics last year, his most memorable moment being game two of the Finals, where he scored 21 points against the Lakers coming off the bench. After the game, viewed by Celtics fans as a sign of ignorance, Phil Jackson then called Leon Powe, Leon "Pow," when talking about his spectacular performance. Nevertheless, it didn't take away from the show he had just put on at the Garden.
Powe is now in his third year with the Celtics, and although injured, he is expected to return for the upcoming NBA playoffs.
1. Paul Pierce: Paul Pierce, the captain of the 2007-08 NBA champions, is a current player for the Celtics. He won Finals MVP last year against the Lakers over teammates Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce grew up a die-hard Lakers fan, and sore to his friends that if one of them ever made the NBA, they would never play for the Celtics.
However, Pierce was drafted 10th in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Celtics, and began to warm up to the team and its tradition after having a heart-to-heart with famous coach Red Auerbach. Pierce is now a true Celtic, and has played his whole career in Boston. He told Danny Ainge and the rest of the front office that he would love to stay with Boston (this is in the Summer before the championship season), but he couldn't keep putting up with the Celtics' losing ways. Ainge then went out and got veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who teamed up with Pierce to make the best team in the league.
Pierce has a full arsenal for sure. His ability to knock down key free throws, hit fadeaway mid-range jumpers, make clutch three-pointers, drive to the basket and finish against stronger big men, handle the ball with ease, pass with perfection, and play hard-nosed defense all come into play when discussing his Hall-Of-Fame chances.
His clutch play is very valuable to the Celtics. He loves to go toe-to-toe with great defenders such as his rival Ron Artest, or superstar Kobe Bryant, and hit the shot. Right... in... their... face. As cool as ice.
Pierce doesn't mind the wear and tear his body takes throughout the course of the season, even though it sometimes effects his play later. However, it seems that Pierce is invincible when it comes to something he is hungry for. Last year in the Finals, Pierce came through for the Celtics time after time, even though he had played all 82 games in the regular season, and hadn't missed a playoff game. Now, averaging what seems to be close to 40 points per game due to Garnett's injury, Pierce is carrying this team along with Ray Allen, and fortunately has kept them in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Pierce will forever be a legend in a Celtics uniform. At least he will be in MY book.