Time to delve back into the archives again for more of my lists. Yes, I know lists are the epitome of lazy journalism. Who do I am think I am, Mark Blount? Oops, I just dropped the mouse.
The same rules apply: These are not supposed to be exhaustive and are fully open to
debate, but I have tried to pick out some more of my personal favorite moments,
together with some interesting ones.
The Top Ten Dunks in Celtics History
10. Ricky Davis v Minnesota, 2004. For Davis even to attempt a 360 dunk in a road game was audacious enough, but he glided in gracefully and effortlessly to make you wonder why he always finishes last in the dunk contest. Of course, the next time he got out on the breakaway, in a far more widely publicised moment (in a home game versus the Lakers) he would get even more audacious and would still end up with the two points, but also pull one rebound closer to that first elusive triple-double.
9. Tony Allen v Sacramento, 2005. Allen's rookie season saw many of his dunks featured on the highlight reels, so he definitely merits inclusion on the list. The pick of these was probably his two-handed reverse on the break, but there were (and will be) many contenders.
8. Reggie Lewis v Cleveland, 1992 playoffs. Reggie was such a nice guy, you would never expect him to humble someone by dunking over them, but in this series, he demonstrated a rare desire. Lewis drove down the middle of the lane, reared back in mid-air like he was just about to deliver a Dontrelle Willis fastball and slammed the ball hard over "Hot Rod" Williams. Knowing Reggie, he probably apologized afterwards. This'll make you feel old: Willis was ten years old in 1992.
7. Ron Mercer v San Antonio, 1999. When Rick Pitino traded Chauncey Billups, he maybe didn't take as much heat as he did when he traded this guy, who averaged 17 points per game in his second season with the C's before being traded in a multi-player deal, basically for Eric Williams and Danny Fortson. Mercer flashed some real promise in just his second game against the Magic, with a Jordan-esque tip dunk of a free throw, but he makes this list for a one handed flying jam over Jaren Jackson, which I believe has the unprecedented honour of being the only dunk in Celtics history to be a Slam magazine "Slamadamonth".
6. Gerald Green: "The Dunk". When a dunk is called "The Dunk", it has to be something special - even if it is only in a pre-season game. A spin move, a two footed takeoff outside the lane and a horizontal finish where he jumped so high that the other players must have looked like ants. This would probably be higher in the list, if it had been in a meaningful game. The scary thing is, if you've seen highlights of Green in action, you'll know he's capable of even better.
5. David Wesley v L A Clippers, 1996. Yes - David Wesley! Any time a dunk comes from an unlikely source, it's a shoo-in for the top ten. I always root for the underdog. Wesley received a bounce pass on a back door cut and rose up to dunk two-handed as everybody on the court, including Wesley as he hung from the rim, looked amazed. It was a bit like Woody Harrelson's dunk in "White Men Can't Jump", but minus the little trampoline (unless M.L. Carr was particularly creative that day).
4. Brett Szabo v Golden State, 1997. Another underdog pick. As Brett Szabo got set to jump at half court at the start of this game, the Fleet Center breathed a
collective "who the heck is this goofy white guy and why is he wearing scientist
goggles?" He got the biggest reaction of the night (and probably his career), though, when he leapt up to grab a high carom off the rim with one hand and slammed it down in one motion. Perhaps mainly on the strength of this play, the Celtics signed the 6'11" Szabo for the rest of the season and the rest was...forgettable.
3. Larry Bird v Detroit Pistons, 1986. The ULTIMATE underdog pick. If you ever get to meet Dennis Rodman, remind him of this play, when he was DUNKED ON BY LARRY BIRD. I'm sure he will remember it fondly. ("Just another good player", huh, Dennis?) Larry used his cat-like quickness to beat Rodman to the baseline and then came up under the basket for a one-handed reverse. Earlier in his career, Larry used the same move to beat Dr. J for what was perhaps an even better dunk, but this was a somewhat sexier pick.
2. Todd Day v Detroit Pistons, 1996. A strange choice, perhaps, but one that is
particularly dear to my heart - because I was there! Day rose up gracefully in the lane and dunked powerfully right over Theo Ratliff. And I, neither gracefully or powerfully, dropped my popcorn right over the woman in front of me. A great moment. (For me, anyway).
1. Dee Brown v Golden State, 1993. For me, Dee just had to top this poll. Many of the moments he provided in his time here were worthy of a mention (a dunk over Shawn Bradley, a tip dunk over Olajawon, countless alley-oops or the show he put on to win the contest to name but a few). My favourite though, has to be the monster left-handed tip dunk of a McHale miss in the fourth quarter of a tense late-season game at the Boston Garden. The roof nearly lifted off the place, which probably would have been just as well because Dee's head nearly hit it.
"He's On Fire": The Ten Best Examples in Celtics History
10. Bob Cousy v Syracuse, 1953. Bear in mind that this list has to be restricted to games I have actually seen, so there will be no Havlicek, Jones, White, Heinsohn or Russell, and obviously these guys have probably had performances that deserve to be on the list. I'm sorry about that, but the best I can do is to mention them all here! Cousy's performance (which I obviously haven't seen either), in a 111-105, 4 OT playoff series decider, makes the list in honour of all these guys. Cousy hit 30 of 32 free throws on route to a then-record 50 points and also sent the game to a fourth overtime with a 30-footer at the buzzer.
9. Tony Battie v New Jersey, 2002 Playoffs. An unusual choice, in that Battie was on fire defensively. In the second quarter of game two, Battie was all over the place as he blocked four shots, altered several others and pulled down several rebounds for good measure as well. Every one of the blocks was a big swat as Battie single-handedly took over the game. (Now there's something you don't hear every day). Battie was a dominant force for the Celtics - for twelve minutes, anyway.
8. Bill Walton v Los Angeles Lakers, 1985/86. This is another game I haven't seen, but you can appreciate that the aging Walton was on fire in all aspects of the game just by looking at his stat-line. 16 minutes, 11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 blocks.
7. Kevin McHale v Charlotte, 1993 Playoffs. Kevin's biggest night was undoubtedly
his monster 56 point effort against the Pistons, but I haven't seen that one. This performance, anyway, was surely far more emotional and memorable. Kevin, who most people had assumed was pretty much done as a player, stepped up and took the Celtics (still reeling from the loss of Reggie Lewis following his game one collapse) on his back in a heroic effort and almost led them to an emotional win. His 30 point effort included a tough fadeaway to send the game to a second overtime period, where the Celtics would eventually fall short, but the best sequence of the game was in the third quarter as the Celtics went to Kevin several times in a row and he pulled out the whole repertoire. Eventually, after drawing a foul and narrowly missing out on a three-point play that would have again lifted the roof off, an exhausted McHale had to call a time out himself and left the floor to the kind of ovation you could only get from a Celtics crowd.
6. Antoine Walker v Minnesota, 2002. Antoine Walker shoots too many threes. We all know that. (Here's an interesting statistic: By about a quarter of the way through next season, the 29 year-old Walker should surpass double the amount of career three point attempts that Larry Bird had). We also all know that sometimes he did make them. On this day, he hit nine-of-twelve, but the best bit was right before the end of the third quarter. Walker hit a three with about 50 seconds left in the period, then on the C's next position, he nailed a 30 footer at the shot clock buzzer. Finally, the T-Wolves tried to push the ball downcourt and lost it, leaving just enough time for Walker to bank home a half court shot and complete perhaps the best minute of his career.
5. The Whole Team v Detroit, 1995. On this day, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the
Celtics rolled to a 118-103 win, behind a quite incredible shooting performance. The Celtics hit their last five shots of the first half and then proceeded to go fourteen-for-fourteen in the third. Dino Radja would eventually miss the Celtics second shot of the final stanza, but the twenty made baskets in a row established a team record. The feat was accomplished mainly by a line-up of Douglas-Brown-Gamble-Pinckney-Parish, but Radja (to that point 0-5) came off the bench to hit the final five shots of the sequence. Nearly all of the shots were tough ones, none tougher than a twenty foot, left-handed hook shot by Sherman Douglas at the shot clock buzzer for the thirteenth of the twenty shots. Following a flagrant foul, Douglas also had four free throws at once towards the end of the sequence and, despite Boston's collective hot hand, bricked all four.
4. Scott Wedman v Los Angeles Lakers, 1985 Finals. The Memorial Day Massacre, a 148-114 drubbing of the Lakers and unquestionably Scott Wedman's finest hour is mired in Celtics folklore. Wedman hit all eleven of his field goal attempts, including four threes. This would have been higher up the list, but (a) they probably would have won anyway and (b) they would ultimately lose the championship that year.
3. Dee Brown v Dallas, 1998. Always one with a flair for the dramatic, Dee (by then, pretty much a forgotten man in the Celtics rotation) would mark his last ever game in Boston with a fourth quarter explosion. He scored 22 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, including five threes, to lead the Celtics to a 110-99 win and left the floor to a rapturous reception. That's good closure.
2. Paul Pierce v Indiana, 2003. Pierce could have been on this list several times. (Having only two points at halftime against the Nets and ending up with 48; scoring five straight baskets on the way to a nineteen point fourth quarter in the comeback game, also against the Nets; hitting 21-of-21 three throws (including twenty swishes) earlier in the series that this choice comes from; or as part of another "whole team" nomination for the fourth quarter of game five against Philly where Pierce (46 points, including 29 in the first half) and his teammates kept on firing - and making - threes, much to the chagrin of the color commentator, one Danny Ainge). This choice is Pierce's finest moment though, by my reckoning. The Celtics trailed 48-36 at the half, and 52-36 early in the third but embarked upon an amazing 15-0 run, sparked by Pierce and shortly after, went on another run with Pierce scoring the last 11 points himself as he scored 21 of his 37 in the quarter to
give the Celtics an 11 point lead, which proved to be too much for the Pacers. The sight of Pierce so unconscious that he was babbling incoherently to Al Harrington as he drained a dying-seconds three over him, is one that Celtics fans will never forget.
1. Larry Bird v Atlanta, 1985. Larry could probably fill out a list like this that extended to about a thousand choices, but the performance which for my money surpasses anything else I have ever seen was his 60-point effort against the Hawks. The game was close and exciting throughout and Larry shot the ball well and scored a bunch of points, but as the game went on he just got hotter and hotter. He had 42 with 5:11 to go. Then it just got silly. Larry was throwing up all kinds of stuff (threes, turnarounds, runners, leaners, unexplainable off balance yet somehow under control heaves) and they were all going in. He was harshly ruled to have stepped out of bounds when he hit a three point fadeaway on which he was fouled, otherwise he could have had 64. The place (and several of the Hawks bench players) went nuts for him even though it was a road game. Quite incredible.
That's the lists for this time. Feel free to debate or correct any of my choices or to request anything for a future top ten list.