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History Week roundtable: who would you bring back to join next season’s team?

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Bird is the word.

Boston Celtics Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

What one player from Celtics history would you like to pluck from that era and put them in today’s game (assume he was able to grow up with modern conditioning, analytics, coaching, etc.)?

Jack Noonan: I’ll take the easy one to start here and choose the legend, Larry Bird. I would love to see how his style could fit in this era with other players running up and down the court. Unfortunately, I was not alive to watch his games live, but the endless hours of YouTube videos has taught me how ahead of the curve he was in terms of pace. He and the others stars of that era flew around the court seemingly playing a different game than the rest of the league. Nowadays, that pace is detrimental to winning, so having Bird put in today’s game would be fascinating. Also, the health regimen would be a 180-degrees from what he went through back in the day. We all know the story of Bird injuring his back working on a driveway in 1985. That would just never happen in today’s athlete culture. Bird would have the best diet (which he may of needed as well) and workout training to have him playing at his highest level.

Tim Maclean: Reggie Lewis. I was born in ‘94 and he’s always been one of the guys I wish I saw play. Obviously, Larry Bird is up there with him, but something about Reggie has always drawn my attention. At 6-7 and 195 pounds, I think he would easily be able to guard the one through four in today’s NBA. He was a menace on defense, averaging 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per game for his all-too-brief career. Offensively, his 3-point shot would’ve needed some work (career 20% shooter) but his excellent numbers at the free throw line (career 82.4% shooter) suggest he probably could have successfully added it to his game.

Boston Celtics Larry Bird Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Greg Brueck-Cassoli: I don’t know if this quite aligns with the spirit of the question, but I’d love to see a version of Kevin Garnett that developed entirely in the “modern age”. KG switching and shooting threes is a truly terrifying notion. Imagine a taller, quicker Draymond Green with tons more offensive game. Garnett would be a superstar in any era, but in today’s game even more so.

Greg Dudek: Easy answer here: It has to be Larry Bird. One of the best forwards in the history of the NBA, I would love to watch him play now. He’s my dad’s favorite player and it would be great to see Larry Legend go to work on the parquet now. It would be crazy to see his game evolve beyond the arc and add in his sensational passing in a game that can become iso-centric at times.

Jeff Clark: I’m going to go with Bill Russell. He wouldn’t be the most athletic player on the court, but he proved time and time again in battles against Wilt Chamberlain that he could still win out over guys that were bigger and more athletic than him. Russell had a mind for the game and a burning competitiveness that would translate to any era. I think in the modern game he’d be a supercharged version of Al Horford. Who knows, maybe Brad Stevens would have him shooting 3 pointers!

Keith Smith: It’s firmly a tie for me between Larry Bird and Bill Russell. For Bird, with today’s training and advances in player care, he’d never have missed the time he regularly missed. And his all-around game would obviously translate to today’s game in a very nice way.For Russell, he’d be a defense/rebounding monster. And I think teams would have figured out a way to use his athleticism as a guy who could run the floor and get up around the rim. And Russell’s ability to pass would have people giving him crazy kudos on a daily basis.