The Boston Celtics franchise has showcased some of the best basketball players that the NBA has ever produced. As one of the most iconic franchises in sports history, the Boston Celtics have won 17 championships and have retired 21 numbers. Selecting an all-time team with that pedigree, they would be absolutely loaded.
Like the 2012 Team USA, loaded.
The present NBA Dream Team is dominating the 2012 Olympic games, drawing some comparisons to the original Dream Team.
I think that's a reach, but it got me wondering how a Dream Team composed of the Boston Celtics' best players would match up against the current Dream Team. Considering the Boston Celtics players with their best season as a Celtic a ceiling for their candidacy, here is the 12-man roster to compete against the roster of the 2012 Dream Team.
I don't think the "Houdini of the Hardwood" would have a problem going up against the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Cousy's game was so transcendent that even coming from the 1950s and 1960s brand of basketball, he would be able to run the break with anyone in the Olympic games, maybe better than anyone too.
The best point guard in Celtics history led the league in assists eight times, made 13 All-Star appearances, won six NBA titles, and even won an MVP. He is one of only four point guards to ever win the award.
Boston's Mr. Basketball and Hall of Fame inductee would be one of the best players in the Olympic games if he were playing today.
Hondo (having a great nickname is almost a rite of passage with the Celtics) played his entire 16-year career with the Celtics averaging 20.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game.
It wasn't just his offensive game that stood out, it was his defense that made him just as valuable. Havlicek was named to the All-NBA first team five times and he made the second team three times on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Hondo would more than hold his own against Kobe Bryant and the Dream Team—not only that, he could brag about how he has eight NBA titles to Kobe's five.
The name says it all.
Bird is one of the greatest basketball players of all time and part of the original Dream Team. He is not just a once in a lifetime player, he is a once in the NBA's lifetime player.
Bird was a three-time NBA champion and he won three straight MVP awards. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star while being named to the All-NBA first team nine times. Mind you, he only played 11 full NBA seasons.
There wasn't anything Bird couldn't do on the basketball court, but more than anything else he was clutch. If we combined both the current Dream Team and the Celtics all-time team and the game were on the line, Bird is the one I want to have the ball.
Bird and LeBron James would likely cancel each other out, but what a cancellation that would be.
Part of Boston's original Big Three, McHale was so dominate down low he named his play in the post "the torture chamber."
McHale used his array of low-post maneuvers to become a three-time NBA champion, a seven-time All-Star, and a three-time All-NBA defensive team member. His top achievement, and a common theme amongst everyone on this list, is that he is a member of the basketball Hall of Fame.
With the lack of post players on the 2012 Dream Team roster, they would really struggle offensively and defensively against McHale. Whoever would end up going against McHale would likely want no part of getting sucked into his torture chamber.
The only thing missing from Russell's career is the extravagant nickname seemingly everyone else has on the Celtics Dream Team.
Arguably the second best basketball player of all time, Russell was a winner more than anything else, but there was a whole lot of "else."
Russell was a five-time NBA MVP and a 12-time All-Star who boasts career averages of 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds a game. They didn't record blocks back then, but I have the feeling his rejection numbers would make Dwight Howard's look like he was a guard.
Russell really did it all for the Boston franchise, even coached the Celtics while playing!
He really did whatever it took to win, as evidenced by his 11 NBA championship rings, a record that is unlikely to be broken.
A big reason to take the Celtics Dream Team over the 2012 Dream Team is the fact that Russell would just not let his team lose. Well, that and Tyson Chandler is the only center on their team.
Cowens' career can be summed up by the comments of former teammate Paul Silas:
"I thought he was a wild man. I'd never seen anybody with that much talent play that aggressively."
Cowens was indeed a tenacious player; through his hard work and desire, he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
His stats weren't too bad either.
Big Red averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game to go with two NBA championships, seven All-Star appearances and an MVP.
His wild persona was illustrated by diving into the stands for loose balls, taking part of full court presses (he was a center), and blocking shots from seemingly out of nowhere. Off the court he was just as wild, as rumors swirled about his sleeping on a park bench after partying and paying $35 dollars to be a taxicab driver!
Against the 2012 Dream Team I have no doubt Cowens would make playing against him a nightmare at both ends of the court.
Heinsohn enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with the Celtics that included eight NBA titles and six All-Star appearances.
Heinsohn averaged 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in his career. Impressively, he won the last game of every season he played in except one. That's eight NBA championships!
And yes he had a nickname too: Tommy Gun.
"The Shooter" earned his nickname by being the most clutch shooter in the NBA while perfecting his bank shot.
Jones averaged 17.7 points for his career while going on to win 10 NBA titles in his 12 seasons.
The legendary Red Auerbach had this to say about him:
"He'll do anything you ask him. He's always in shape and ready to play, and nobody works any harder at basketball than he does."
That's sounds like someone who should be on any Dream Team assembled.
The Chief was a mainstay of 1980s NBA basketball as he helped the Celtics win three NBA titles.
Parish ranks second in Celtics history in rebounds, he is first in blocks and fourth in points. Impressive on any franchise, but looking at this roster that makes him an all-time great.
At 7-feet tall Parish owned a jumper that no one could defend. It had a rainbow-like arch that made it impossible to block.
Yet another Hall of Fame inductee, Parish would be the best center in most team's history. On this team he is only among the top five.
Good luck dealing with that, 2012 Dream Team.
The "Truth" has been through more ups and downs than anyone else on this Celtics team, but in the end he will be an NBA champion and a Hall of Fame member.
While he didn't look the part of an NBA superstar, Pierce's numbers say otherwise. He ranks third in team history in games played, second in points scored, seventh in total rebounds, fifth in total assists, and second in total steals.
Nobody can really defend him in the NBA and against the Dream Team I don't think things would be any different.
The "Big Ticket" (10th nickname if you're keeping count), although a long-time member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, will be remembered as a Boston Celtic.
Garnett won an MVP in Minnesota, but when you win that NBA title, that's what people remember.
Garnett was a big reason the Celtics turned their losing ways around and for that he deserves a spot on the Celtics Dream Team. He would give the 2012 Dream Team fits with his intense play and would block any dead ball that was coming anywhere near the basket.
Dennis Johnson, Jo Jo White and Bill Sharman could easily argue a spot on the Celtics Dream Team, but I feel that Rondo has arrived as one of the all-time Celtics with his recent play and what he is capable of going forward.
While he has many great years ahead of him Rondo is a two time All-Star with room to grow. He can control any game without taking a shot and makes passes reminiscent of Bird and Cousy.
He will supplant himself as one of the all-time great Celtics if he hasn't already.
His defense and play-making ability is among the best the NBA has to offer right now and he could have easily made the 2012 Dream Team.
Actually, why didn't he?
This is truly a Dream Team.
Russell, McHale, Bird, Cowens, Parish and the rest of the team would be too much for the 2012 Dream Team to handle, let alone any other team you want to come up with.
Today's athlete is bigger, stronger, and faster, but I'm not betting against this Celtic team.
The current Team USA would have the edge in speed and athleticism, and when it's all said and done they might end up matching the Celtics in number of Hall of Fame players. However, their lack of big men would be their ultimate demise against the Celtics Dream Team.
If this Celtics Dream Team did face the 2012 Dream Team, I'd take the Celtics by 8.