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Building Boston Celtics Best All-Time Starting Lineup

Jeremy GottliebContributor IDecember 16, 2016

Building Boston Celtics Best All-Time Starting Lineup

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    The Boston Celtics are the NBA's most storied franchise.

    No team has won more titles, has as many Hall of Famers or has retired more jersey numbers. 

    So if you were to put together an all-time Celtics' team, who would you start? There are so many great, great players in the annals of this team's history, you could make a variety of cases for a variety of guys.

    Still, when you narrow it down to just five starters, the picture becomes a bit clearer. For all the greatness achieved by so many Celtics of previous years, the best at each position is still fairly clear.

    So with that, let's get into the ultimate, all-time Celtics' starting five.

PG: Bob Cousy

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    With all due respect to Tiny Archibald, Dennis Johnson, Rajon Rondo and Jo Jo White, Bob Cousy gets the nod here.

    The Cooz played 14 years with the Celts and represents the start of their run as the league's most storied team, sparking Boston's first dynasty, along with Bill Russell.

    Cousy presided over six championships, the first six in the franchise's history. He was the MVP of the league in 1956-57, the year of the C's first title, and finished his career in 1963 at age 35.

    For his career, Cousy averaged 18.4 points and 7.5 assists per game. He revolutionized the point guard position in the NBA and is one of five best Celtics to ever play the game.

SG: John Havlicek

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    The all-time leading scorer in the history of the Celtics with 26,395 points, Hondo won eight championships in his 16 year playing career, more than any player in NBA history other than Russell and Sam Jones.

    He won four of those in his first four seasons and would wind up his career having made 13 All-Star teams and being referred to by Russell in 1974 as "the best all-around player I ever saw."

    Havlicek, in addition to being one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, not just the Celtics, was also one of the toughest players to ever play the game. He frequently played through injuries and still led the team from one dynasty to another.

    He could be the starter at small forward on this all-time team, as he was a force at multiple positions. Having played in more games than any Celtic, we can let him choose.

SF: Paul Pierce

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    The closest to Havlicek on the Celts' all-time scoring list, Pierce has been a star since day one of his 14-year career, joining Hondo and Larry Bird as the only Celtics in team history to go over 20,000 points with just Boston.

    Pierce has averaged over 21 points per game in 130 career playoff games and won the Finals MVP in 2008, the year of his only title. If anything may hold him back a step from so many other Celtics' greats, it's that he's won just one ring.

    Pierce still earns this spot in the all-time starting five due to how great he's been for so long. At 35 years old and with at least one more season as a Celtic coming up, he may yet still get that second ring.

PF: Larry Bird

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    Bird was a three for the majority of his career, with Kevin McHale starting at the four. But for our purposes here, let's line him up at power forward.

    It took Bird one season to bring the Celtics, well under .500 for the two years prior to his being drafted, back to prominence. They were back in the Eastern Conference Finals in his rookie year, then won Banner 14 in his second. 

    Bird won three titles and three MVP awards. And, it took 20 years for someone (Pierce) to pass him for second on the team's all-time scoring list.

    Bird retired in 1992 having posted averages of 24.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in his career. He would win a gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics as a co-captain of the original dream team, coach the Indiana Pacers for three seasons, one of which resulted in a Finals appearance, and served as the Pacers' GM from 2003-2012.

    Along with Havlicek, Bird is the second best player in the history of the Celtics.

C: Bill Russell

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    If not for Michael Jordan, Bill Russell would be the greatest player in the history of the NBA. He is the greatest Celtic of all time.

    He's the winningest player ever to play. Russell owns 11 championships, not to mention two NCAA titles and an Olympic gold medal. He is the ultimate authority on winning.

    He coached the Celtics in addition to playing for them in 1968-1969. Not surprisingly, that season ended in a championship. 

    The most visible emblem of the Celtics franchise, Bill Russell leads this all-time starting lineup, just as he led those 11 championship winning teams.

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