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Top Ten Boston Celtics of All-Time


We’ve hit the dog days of the NBA summer.  All the big name free agents have been snatched up.  Summer league is over.  Training camps are still months away.  So, now is the perfect time to reminisce a bit.  The Hoops Manifesto has gathered together a stellar collection of Bloguin basketball writers to determine the top ten players all-time for each of the 30 NBA franchises.  Next up: the crown jewel of the NBA, the Boston Celtics.

Voting panel: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto College Wolf from the TWolves Blog, Don from With Malice, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court and Philip from Orlando Magic Daily.

10) Dennis Johnson – Boston Celtics – 1984-1990

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of two Celtics championship teams
- one-time All-Star
- four-time All-Defensive Team member

“Larry Bird called him the best teammate ever – that’s good enough for me.” - Jeff Fox

“A late bloomer in the NBA, Johnson emerged as a defensive stopper and clutch performer for the Celtics, helping Boston continue its dominance into the ’80s.” – Diego

9) Robert Parish – Boston Celtics – 1981-1994

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of three Celtics championship teams
- nine-time All-Star
- two-time All-NBA selection
- NBA all-time leader in games played
- ninth all-time in career minutes played in the NBA
- second all-time in career offensive & defensive rebounds in the NBA
- seventh all-time in career rebounds in the NBA
- ninth all-time in career blocks in the NBA
- Celtics all-time leader in offensive & defensive rebounds and blocks

“How much of a powerhouse franchise is the Celtics?  Just look at Robert Parish’s accomplishments above – they only make him the ninth best player in Celtics history.” – Jeff Fox

“‘The Chief’ was a very versatile center, using his 7-foot frame to even finish fast breaks.  Parish formed a lethal frontcourt with Bird and McHale, winning championships in the ’80s.” – Diego

8) Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics – 2007-present

Celtics accomplishments:

- member of one Celtics championship team
- three-time All-Star
- Defensive Player of the Year
- two-time All-Defensive Team selection
- one-time All-NBA selection

“I guess this makes Kevin Garnett ‘certified’” – Jeff Fox

“Sure, there are going to be detractors who say that there are players with greater championship pedigrees, or that Paul Pierce was the face of the team for over a decade… but the 2008 Championship team was body and soul Kevin Garnett’s team, despite him being a recent addition.  This team became an extension of who Garnett is.  Brash, cocky, smash-mouth, in-your-face, punishing… and damn good.  KG made green relevant again.” – Don

7) Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics – 1998-present

Celtics accomplishments:

- member of one Celtics championship team
- NBA Finals MVP
- Celtics leader in free throws (made & attempted), three-pointers (made & attempted)
- eight-time All-Star
- All-Rookie Team
- four-time All-NBA selection

“Many wonder where Pierce will end up on this list, especially since he’s never been selected as an All-NBA First Team player. But Pierce stayed with Boston, even during the down years, and was the Finals MVP when he finally had enough help to win it all.” – Diego

“Pierce’s career was redeemed by the title he won in 2008. It would be difficult to mention him as an all-time great Celtic without that. But he has been very quietly tearing up the NBA in Boston since he was drafted. He is a Boston lifer and should be mentioned among the Celtics greats. It is not easy to lead a team with Antoine Walker and Kenny Anderson to the Eastern Conference Finals and get people talking about championships in Boston. He needed the help of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to win a title, but he did not need their help to score nearly 20,000 points in 12 seasons.” – Philip

6) Dave Cowens – Boston Celtics – 1970-1980

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of two Celtics championship teams
- seven-time All-Star
- Rookie of the Year
- All-Rookie Team
- three-time All-NBA selection
- three-time All-Defensive Team selection
- eighth all-time in career rebounds per game in the NBA

After Bill Russell anchored the team’s defense, Cowens helped take on a similar role for the Celtics and helped the franchise continue its dominance in the ’70s.” – Diego

“Cowens accomplished everything you could hope for despite a relatively short Celtics – and NBA – career.” – Jeff Fox

5) Kevin McHale – Boston Celtics – 1980-1993


Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of three Celtics championship teams
- seven-time All-Star
- two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year
- All-Rookie Team
- six-time All-Defensive Team selection
- one-time All-NBA selection

“Teaming up with Larry Bird and Robert Parrish to form a great front-line, McHale was a key contributor on the three championships he won in Boston. McHale was also a great defensive player, recording nine blocks in two separate games, although the NBA did not record blocks then.” – Diego

“Even though he spent most of his career as a sixth man for the Celtics in the 1980s, McHale was the low post threat Bird needed to succeed. Bird was not always a McHale fan because McHale never took the game as seriously as Bird (no one did) but he was the perfect foil. The good-natured McHale was a beast in the paint. He mastered the low post and could beat his opponents with a variety of skillful post moves. His reputation will take a bad rap for what he did as the general manager of the Timberwolves. But even after he
retired, he delivered a title to Boston. Can’t ask for much more.” – Philip

4) Bob Cousy – Boston Celtics – 1950-1963

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of six Celtics championship teams
- 13-time All-Star
- 12-time All-NBA
- Celtics all-time assist leader

“The original Steve Nash (with shorter hair and less finger-licking).” – Jeff Fox

“One of the first great ballhandlers, Bob Cousy seemed to see the game unfold before him in slow motion.  He was the first of the great true point guards.” – Don

3) John Havlicek – Boston Celtics – 1962-1978

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of eight Celtics championship teams
- Celtics all-time leader in games played, minutes played, field goals (made & attempted) and points.
- Finals MVP
- All-Rookie Team
- 11-time All-NBA team
- eight-time All-Defensive Team
- 13-time All-Star
- eighth all-time in career NBA minutes played
- ninth all-time in career field goals made in the NBA
- fifth all-time in career field goal attempts in the NBA

“Despite the myriad of Celtics superstars, you could argue that John Havlicek is ‘Mr. Celtic’.” – Jeff Fox

“The best sixth man in NBA history, Havlicek dominated games coming off the bench — something that doesn’t happen in today’s basketball. In Game 7 of the 1965 NBA Finals, Havlicek stole an in-bounds pass with seven seconds left to preserve a one-point lead over Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers and win the championship.” – Diego

“He was the primary scorer for many of Russell’s championship teams and bridged the gap between the Russell and Cowens eras.  ‘Hondo’ personified the heart and grit of those 1960s Boston teams.” - Philip

2) Larry Bird – Boston Celtics – 1979-1992

Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of three championship teams
- 10th all-time in NBA free throw %
- Celtics all-time steals leader
- three-time MVP
- Rookie of the Year
- two-time Finals MVP
- 10-time All-NBA team
- All-Rookie Team
- three-time All-Defensive Team

“One of the greatest basketball players to ever walk this planet, Bird revived the NBA and revolutionized the small forward position. Whenever Boston needed a big bucket, he supplied it.” – Diego

“Bird and Magic Johnson saved basketball plain and simple. Their rivalry transcended sports and was the catalyst for the modern NBA. But more than that, Bird’s artistry as a teammate and champion was beautiful for basketball fans to watch. He just had an instinct for the game and continually transformed himself to better himself and his teammates. There may not be another player who had everything a basketball player could have.” – Philip

1) Bill Russell – Boston Celtics – 1956-1969


Celtics accomplishments:

- NBA Hall of Fame member
- member of 11 championship teams as a player
- 2nd most career rebounds in NBA history
- 2nd highest career rebounds per game average in NBA history
- most career rebounds in Celtics history
- 12-time All-Star
- five-time MVP
- 11-time All-NBA Team
- one-time All-Defensive Team

“The best player ever for one of the best franchises ever.” – Don

“One of the greatest players to pick up a basketball, Russell was arguably the best defensive presence this League has ever seen. It was dimly understood before him — and after him, for that matter — that his position was primarily about defense and rebound.” – Diego

“What makes Russell transcend above all the other Celtics is not his numbers but his will to win. He had a legendarily close relationship with coach Red Auerbach and always pushed his teams to play better with his famous intensity. In other words, Russell makes Kevin Garnett look like a tame puppy.” – Philip

“The GOAT.  What else to say?” – Dave

“Wilt who?  Jordan who?  If you could have one player in the history of basketball to suit up for your team, you better pick Bill Russell” – Jeff Fox

Previous franchises done: Atlanta.

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto & The MMA Manifesto