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Maxwell: Best Celtics Player of All-Time is Not Larry Bird or Bill Russell… (podcast)

Cedric Maxwell goes on the Celtics Beat podcast and makes a surprise pick for most talented Celtics player of all time.

Larry Bird

When talking about the best Celtics player of all time the conversation usually revolves around two men. Bill Russell and Larry Bird. A strong case can be made for either and seldom is any other name submitted for consideration.

Until now.

Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell joined Adam Kaufman on the Celtics Beat Podcast on CLNS Media to reveal who he thinks is the best all around player to ever wear the green. And the answer may surprise you.

“Kevin Garnett is the best all-around player the Celtics have ever had,” says Maxwell. “He was a better defensive player than Larry. Not as good offensively. He was a better offensive player than Bill Russell, but not as good defensively. But you could say that Kevin Garnett was no slouch on either one of those things. He’s one of the top players to ever play the game.”

Though Garnett arrived in Boston late in his career – and to a team that already had a homegrown superstar and future Hall of Famer in Paul Pierce on the roster- it was clear KG was the man.

“If you look at that first year that he came here Kevin Garnett was an MVP candidate,” said Maxwell. “The second year, before he got hurt, the Boston Celtics were on their way to winning 70 games. That’s how good Kevin Garnett was.”

In addition to being supremely gifted at both ends of the floor, Garnett possessed that intangible quality that also made Bird & Russell as great as they were.

“He [Garnett] defined what they did and the biggest thing he did, like Larry Bird, like Bill Russell, he changed the culture of the team,” Maxwell told Kaufman. “When you have Paul Pierce – Paul had been great player all his life, but Paul Pierce became a greater player when he was around Garnett. Rondo became Rondo. [KG] made guys. He made Doc Rivers a better coach.”

Maxwell shared a story from early in the 2007- 2008 season when KG first arrived that set the tone for who the real alpha dog was on what would a short while later become an NBA Championship winning team.

“I remember distinctly watching Paul Pierce, who was very (braggadocious) about things, and it was one of the first trips we had on the plane. And I’ll let a little secret out. They were playing this game called booray, and Kevin Garnett owed Paul Pierce maybe four or five thousand dollars, which is pennies to them. Paul gets on the plane, ‘Kevin owes me five grand! Kevin owes me five grand!’ Kevin Garnett gets on the plane. He looked like he was out of the Old West. He had two saddle bags full of money. He sits down, Paul Pierce in front of him, and starts counting money. And he says to Paul, ‘You tell me when to stop’.

“That was a statement right there. It was loud and clear. This was his team.”

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