Boston Celtics' All-Time Dream Team

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2013

Boston Celtics' All-Time Dream Team

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    With their 17 NBA championships, the Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in professional sports.

    An extraordinary amount of great players have donned the Celtic green, and a considerable pride comes with wearing the uniform.

    The Celtics have had so much success in their history that they could field their very own Dream Team, perhaps one even good enough to beat the actual Dream Team of the 1992 Olympics.

    From dominant big men to clutch, savvy guards, Boston has had it all, and the great talents are not just confined to one era. No, they are spread out over each of the six-and-a-half decades that the C's have been in existence.

    The sheer number of stars to have played for the Celtics organization is truly a marvel to behold.


    All statistics in this article are from Basketball Reference.

Starting Center: Bill Russell

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    Did you expect anyone else?

    The 11-time champion was arguably the greatest defensive force in the history of the game (he led the league in defensive win shares in 11 of his 13 seasons), and some feel that he is the best center of all time, period.

    While it may be somewhat difficult to argue that he is the top big man, no one can ever question his overall dominance. Bill Russell was a part of one of the most—if not the most—spectacular runs in sports history, winning eight straight titles and averaging 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds in the process.

    Russell is also easily one of the greatest leaders to ever set foot on a basketball court—one of the greatest leaders in all of sports.

    He is the face of the history of the Boston Celtics, and for good reason.

    The man has more rings than fingers.

Starting Forward: Larry Bird

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    As was said with Russell, who were you expecting?

    Larry Bird, touted by many as a top-10 player in the history of the league, was the heart and soul of Celtics basketball in the 1980s.

    The three-time champion is known for being one of the smartest players to ever play the game, and one of the most clutch to boot.

    There really wasn't much Bird couldn't do. He was a phenomenal scorer and had outstanding floor vision, establishing himself as one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen. His stats genuinely reflect that, too. Along with the 24.3 points per game he averaged over the course of his 13-year career, Bird also put up 6.3 assists. That is tremendous for a forward.

    Let's also not neglect that Larry averaged a double-double. The forward averaged 10 rebounds, as well.

    Many compare Paul Pierce to Bird in terms of their impact on the C's, but as great as Pierce is, he is no Bird.

Starting Forward: Kevin McHale

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    It may be hard to find a more underrated player than Kevin McHale.

    After all, this is a man who is one of the best low-post players of all-time, and he influenced many of the post scorers of our generation. Current Celtic Kevin Garnett was greatly aided by McHale when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves, as McHale taught him many of the low-post tricks that he uses today.

    McHale's skill inside is clearly represented in his statistics, as the 6'10" forward is a career 55.4-percent shooter. He shot over 60 percent twice, and both times he led the league in field-goal percentage. During one of those seasons, the 1986-87 campaign, McHale averaged a career-best 26.1 points per game, not to mention .232 win shares per 48 minutes.

    McHale was even better in the postseason, shooting 56.1 percent in 169 games.

    He may not have been the greatest rebounding power forward, as his career rebound percentage of 13.2 is certainly nothing to write home about, but the way McHale changed the game on the low block cannot be ignored.

Starting Guard: Sam Jones

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    When you talk about the Celtics' run during the 1960s, Russell and John Havlicek are generally the first two players who come to mind. Most casual fans would not think of Sam Jones, the instrumental starting shooting guard on those teams who led the ball club in scoring five times.

    This is a man Wilt Chamberlain once called Boston's best player, in spite of the fact that Russell was a member of the same squad.

    Jones' best season came during the 1965-66 campaign, when the guard averaged 26.3 points per 36 minutes and .222 win shares per 48 minutes en route to the C's' eighth championship.

    It wasn't just offense where Jones impressed, however. He was also a very underrated defender, as evidenced by the fact that he put together back-to-back seasons where he tallied over five defensive win shares (5.2 in 1963-64; 5.5 in 1964-65).

    Jones is undoubtedly one of the best players to ever put on a Celtics uniform.

Starting Guard: Bob Cousy

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    While Bob Cousy's numbers may not jump out at you, he was one of the most important players to ever wear green.

    A six-time champion, Cousy teamed up with Russell to comprise one of the most formidable duos in basketball history, averaging 18.4 points and 7.5 assists over the course of his illustrious 13-year run with the Celtics.

    Cousy led the league in assists eight straight years at one point, demonstrating just how good of a floor general he truly was. During that run, he also averaged 20 points three times, and never less than 18.

    Cousy may not be one of the flashier players this game has seen, but he got the job done night-in and night-out.

Sixth Man: John Havlicek

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    It was tough to choose between Havlicek and Pierce for this spot, but you just have to give it to the Celtics' all-time leading scorer.

    Havlicek, an eight-time champion, averaged over 20 points eight times during his lengthy 16-year tenure, 20.8 over his career.

    The thing with Havlicek was that he was not just a scorer. He had an impact on the game in other facets, as well.

    The 6'5" forward known as "Hondo" averaged 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists over the course of his career, and in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 campaigns, he averaged nine and 8.2 rebounds, respectively. In those two seasons, he also recorded 7.5 assists both times. All of that while averaging nearly 30 points a contest.

    Now that is impressive.

    Havlicek was also responsible for one of the most famous calls in sports history. You probably knew what it was before even clicking on that link.

Bench: Paul Pierce

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    That brings us to the current captain.

    While Pierce may not have the hardware of a Russell or a Havlicek, his numbers speak for themselves.

    The man known as The Truth is a career 21.8-point-per-game scorer and has averaged six rebounds on top of that. Of course, he is also one of the most cold-blooded players in the game today, so he has that going for him, as well.

    Pierce currently has one title, and barring some sort of miraculous run this year, there is a good chance that he will end his career with that number of rings.

    Regardless, he has provided Celtics fans with an innumerable amount of memories that will never be forgotten, and the heart and grit he displays each time he steps on the Garden parquet will live on in Celtics lore forever.

    There is no question that Pierce's No. 34 will be hanging in the rafters of TD Garden when it's all said and done.

Bench: Tommy Heinsohn

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    Tommy Heinsohn has become such a beloved figure as the Celtics' color commentator that it sometimes slips people's minds that he was once an outstanding NBA player and coach.

    Although he wasn't exactly the biggest guy out there at 6'7", 218 lbs., Heinsohn was as tough as they come. The forward posted career averages of 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and was a vital piece of the Russell-led title teams of the late '50s and '60s.

    An eight-time NBA finals winner as a player and a two-time winner as a coach, Heinsohn was a model of consistency. His standard stats don't actually reflect just how good he really was. Take his numbers and translate them into per-36-minutes stats, and Tommy is posting career averages of 22.8 points and 10.7 rebounds.

    With the amount of energy he still puts into calling Celtics games, it's hard to believe that Heinsohn is 78 years old.

Bench: Bill Sharman

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    Bill Sharman is the reason why Garnett couldn't get No. 21 with the Celtics.

    Sharman's No. 21 hangs in the rafters of TD Garden, and with good reason. The guard is considered one of the best shooters of all-time. It's a shame that the three-pointer was not yet in effect during his playing days, or else the record books might look pretty different today.

    Sharman was one of the first guards to shoot over 40 percent in a single season, and he is also a lifetime 88.3-percent shooter from the free-throw line. Oh, and he holds the record for most consecutive free throws made in the playoffs, with 56.

    Sharman won four titles with the Celtics and was elected to the All-Star team in eight of his 10 years with the team. He averaged 17.8 points a night, and he broke the .200-mark in win shares per 48 minutes three times.

Bench: Kevin Garnett

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    Garnett is the one of only two players on this list whose best years did not come as a Celtic (you'll see the other one in the next slide).

    It's clear as day to see that KG was at his very best in Minnesota where he would put up mind-boggling numbers year-in and year-out. However, now in his sixth year in Boston, there is absolutely no question that Garnett belongs in any discussion of C's all-time greats.

    KG's presence is not only felt in terms of individual dominance, but in rubbing off on other players as well. He has served as an outstanding leader for the Celtics, mentoring the young guys and helping them forge successful NBA careers. Many feel that he was responsible for turning Kendrick Perkins into the defensive beast that he was during his time in Boston.

    There is a very good chance that Garnett's No. 5 ends up dangling from the ceiling of TD Garden, much like Pierce's No. 34 eventually will.

Bench: Dennis Johnson

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    Although Dennis Johnson's best years actually came with the Phoenix Suns, one cannot deny how important the point guard was to Boston's run during the 1980s.

    Johnson won two titles with the Celtics, and playing with the likes of Bird, McHale, and Robert Parish, he would routinely put up stat lines hovering around 15 points and seven assists per game each year. You have to wonder how much better his scoring numbers would have looked had he not essentially been the fourth option on the club.

    It was a tough call in deciding between Johnson, K.C. Jones, and Jo Jo White in terms of who got the backup point guard slot on this roster, but the spot went to Johnson thanks to his versatility.

    If you were looking for Rajon Rondo, don't worry. He'll likely make this type of list soon enough.

Bench: Robert Parish

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    Due to the fact that Parish played with Bird and McHale, not to mention Johnson, he is generally overlooked when talking about the great Celtics teams of the 80s.

    It's very unfair, too, as this is a man who played 14 seasons in Boston and averaged a double-double in nine of them. Parish was also incredibly efficient, his field-goal percentage frequently approaching 60 percent and his free-throw percentage also being respectable.

    "The Chief," as he was called, was incredibly durable, too. He never played any less than 74 games as a member of the C's.

    The seven-footer was invaluable to the Celtics, playing a pivotal role in the franchise's three titles during his tenure in Boston.

    Parish made the All-Star team seven straight years (1980-86) and nine times total in Beantown, further cementing his legacy as an all-time great.