Boston Celtics: Four All-Time Legends Make Mount Rushmore
Over the span of 74 years, the Boston Celtics have become one of the most successful NBA franchises to ever exist. In these 74 years, the Celtics have won 17 championships (most of any franchise), and have won 21 conference titles.
During their relatively long existence as a team, the Celtics have had many players who are considered to be legends in both their era as well as now. In this article, I will be going over the 4 most influential players in the franchise’s history.
Please keep in mind, this is not based purely upon the player’s skill level, nor is it only their influence. Their inclusion will be based upon both of those, as well as their impact on the Celtics and the Celtics alone. Players like Kevin Garnett will not be included, due to him only having a short tenure with the team.
When bringing up a mix of talent with a level of success with the Celtics alone…turn nowhere other than Bill Russell. Bill had an absolutely amazing career, spanning from 1956-1969, in which he only played for Boston. In 11 of his 13 seasons in the NBA, he won a championship ring. This is one of the major stats that is acquainted with his legacy, as no other player in the history of the league ever won that many, nevermind with 1 team.
Photo Credit: Boston Sports
Rings with Russell
Something to mind when looking at his championships is that 8 of them were all in a row (1959-1966). At no point during Russell’s career did he average less than 18 rebounds a game on the year. At his peak, he averaged 24.7 boards a game, and in the 15-18 point range per game.
The next most rings won by 1 player is Sam Jones (also a Boston Celtic) at 10…in fact the first 6 players on the list are all Celtics, and the next 2 (7 and 8) are tied with 1 other player. The list goes as follows:
- Bill Russell (Boston Celtics) 11
- Sam Jones (Boston Celtics) 10
- Tom Heinsohn (Boston Celtics) 8
- K.C. Jones (Boston Celtics) 8
- Tom Sanders (Boston Celtics) 8
- John Havlicek (Boston Celtics) 8 – Mentioned later on the list
- Jim Loscutoff (Boston Celtics) 7
- Frank Ramsey (Boston Celtics) 7
- Robert Horry (Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs) 7
This generally goes to show how successful the team is, and how involved Bill was during those years. His list of accomplishments aside from the championships is even more impressive if even possible. He won league MVP 5 times (tied for 2nd most with Michael Jordan), 12-time all-star (only one year of his career was he not one), 3-time All-NBA first team, 1 time NBA defensive first team, 4-time rebounding leader, and even won 2 more championships as an NBA coach. Bill was also enshrined in the NBA Hall of Fame and had his number (#6) retired by the Boston Celtics.
Bill Gives Beantown a Boost
He has had a profound impact on Beantown during his playing career and lifetime. Russell was a part of over half of the Celtics 17 championships, and even coached some of the others. Oh…and he also won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics in men’s basketball. Overall he had an absolutely amazing career and has had an amazing impact on the game of basketball as a whole.
In 2013 he had a bronze statue made for him by the Boston Celtics organization, and it is displayed outside city hall, which is an amazing accomplishment. For all he did in Boston, during his career as well as outside of it, he was greatly revered.
Larry Bird would make it into most people’s top 10 list based solely upon his talent as a player, nevermind his success and loyalty. Bird throughout his career averaged 24.3 points per game, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. The part of his game that was the most notable and he is most well known for however was his deadly three-point shot. At the peak of his career, Bird averaged 29.9 PPG, on 52.7% FG%, 41.4% from 3, and even made 91% of his free throws.
The real reason Bird is here? Legacy. The word that every NBA player ever has wanted to have tied with their name. Larry Bird in his 13-year career won an absolutely astonishing amount of individual awards, alongside his 3 NBA championships. These awards include ROY, 2x Finals MVP, 1x all-star game MVP, 3x regular season MVP, 12x all-star, 10x All-NBA, and 3x all-defensive team. For people who said he only brought offense to the game, his all-defensive team appearances clearly show his ability on that side of the ball. Bird also won 3 consecutive 3-point contests. Going against players like Detlef Schremf, Kiki Vandeweghe, Mark Price, and even the current Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge.
All of these feats and so much more have earned Bird the nickname “Larry Legendary”, which is extremely fitting for his career.
Photo Credit: NBC Sports
John “Hondo” Havlicek is one of the more storied but underrated players to suit up in Celtics green. Havlicek in the 1970-1971 season played a whopping 45.4 minutes average per game out of 48 total. This goes to show what a huge impact Hondo had on the court, and how much the Celtics valued it. Unfortunately, we lost John last year due to a struggle with Parkinson’s disease as well as old age. But his legacy will live on.
John is the Celtics all-time leading scorer, having 26,395 total points tied to his name throughout his career. This total is more than just a number, it’s a representation of what he did for the team. This ultimately led to him being part of 8 Celtics championship wins. Havlicek won the Finals MVP in the 1973-1974 season, topping off one of his better seasons.
At his absolute prime, Havlicek averaged 28.9 PPG, 7.5 Assists, and shot .450 from the field. Something we do not know is his rebound, steal, or block numbers, as they were not recorded in his prime era. He played a total of 1,270 games in his career, which is an absolutely monstrous number for how aggressive and brutal basketball was back in the 70s.
Kevin “Black Hole” McHale was very similar to Manu Ginobili except in a different time era. They were both proficient 6th men who had the tenacity it took to almost always finish a play. The difference? Havlicek did it in an era where 6th men weren’t seen as valued scorers.
The reason McHale has the nickname Black Hole is due to his tendency to very rarely pass the ball. Instead, he would just finish at the rack. Playing behind another great, Larry Bird, showed McHale how to shoot the ball proficiently and effectively. At the peak of his career, Kevin came within seven percentage points on free throws of making the 50-40-90 club. He shot 53.3% from the field, 40.5% from 3-point range, and 82.9% from the line.
More on McHale
At the top, McHale scored 26.1 PPG, averaging 2.6 APG, 9.9 RPG, 2.2 BPG, and a half a steal per game. Being the 6th man, and a power forward, these numbers both at the time and even now are extremely impressive. Playing alongside Bird and still averaging over 26 points per game is a feat, considering how amazing Bird ended up being.
Who makes your Boston Celtics Mount Rushmore? Leave a comment below.
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