The Most Embarrassing Players in Boston Celtics' Past 20 Years
Some of the best players in the NBA have donned Boston Celtics jerseys in the team's 67-year history. Over nearly seven decades, all-time greats like Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Sam Jones, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have all embodied Celtic pride and led the franchise to championships.
However, in that time, the franchise has also featured its share of embarrassments. Particularly in the last 20 years, when Boston has experienced its share of turbulent times, the organization has brought in a number of players who would have Red Auerbach rolling over in his grave.
Whether they simply failed to live up to expectations, let their attitude keep them from succeeding or could not stay on the court, plenty of Boston players have made the Celtics faithful want to forget they ever played.
With the franchise entering a new era and some potentially rough rebuilding years ahead, let’s take a moment to look at some of the most embarrassing Celtics of the last 20 years.
And don’t worry Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, there’s always room for a couple more.
Players are listed alphabetically.
Honorable Mention: Fab Melo
Fab Melo’s tenure in Boston was short, but it was about as disappointing as a single NBA season could be.
Melo was drafted 22nd by Boston in 2012 and, while he was clearly a project, there was hope that he could show enough flashes with the Celtics as a rookie that he could provide some help immediately.
That was simply not the case, as Melo averaged 1.2 points and 0.5 rebounds while appearing in just six games for the Celtics. He played well in the NBA D-League, averaging 9.8 points and 3.1 blocks, but did not show the kind of growth at Orlando Summer League that fans or the Boston brass were hoping for.
Billed as a shot-blocker and rebounder without much of an offensive game, Melo proved to be too raw to play heavy minutes right away and simply looked clumsy and uncomfortable running the floor.
A four-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks, Vin Baker came to the Celtics in 2002 as a shell of his former self after battling alcoholism for much of his career.
Baker, once a consistent 20-10 player who could score in the post, shoot from mid-range, rebound and protect the post, struggled mightily when he left the Seattle SuperSonics for Boston.
During his stint with the Celtics, Baker entered into a treatment center, per a 2004 report from ESPN’s Peter May, and was suspended multiple times by coach Jim O’Brien.
Baker appeared in just 89 games with the Celtics, averaging 5.2 points and 3.8 boards in 2002-03 before rebounding slightly and posting 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in 2003-04.
The C’s waived Baker in February 2004, per ESPN, after he failed to comply with the terms of his alcohol treatment program.
Since ending his career Baker has become a youth preacher according to the New York Daily News’ Mitch Abramson, but his career, particularly in Boston, will always be linked to his battles with alcohol.
Baker’s troubled stint with the C’s is yet another dark storyline during one of the franchise’s most disappointing eras.
The 11th pick in the 2001 draft, Boston took Kedrick Brown one pick after selecting future All-Star 2-guard Joe Johnson. A superb athlete, Brown spent two years at Okaloosa-Walton Community College before declaring for the draft.
Despite his physical talents, Brown never put it together on either end of the floor and was incapable of playing regular minutes, especially on a young, overachieving Celtics team that went 49-33 in Brown’s rookie year.
For his career, Brown averaged 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds while shooting just 40.5 percent from the floor and 27.4 percent from three-point range.
His best year in green was 2003-04, where he averaged 5.3 points, 2.7 boards and 1.2 assists on 46.1 percent shooting overall and 38.4 percent from deep before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not exactly the kind of production a team envisions getting with a mid-lottery pick.
After his Celtics days were over, Brown spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers and Cavs before taking his “talents” overseas. He last played for Antalya BB in the Turkish Basketball League during 2011-12.
Brown was never going to be a franchise-changing talent, but his inability to develop an outside shot or defensive timing cost him a shot at a productive NBA career.
The lasting legacy of Kedrick Brown will be that taking a prospect based solely on their leaping ability is almost never a good idea.
A highly touted scorer out of Arkansas, Todd Day was drafted eighth overall by Milwaukee and spent much of 1995-96 and the entire 1996-97 season with the Celtics.
Though Day put up decent stats with Boston, the most telling number from his time in green is that the Celtics were 48-108 in games where Day was on the roster.
Day averaged 12.0 points, 2.8 boards and 1.4 assists in 1995-96 but shot just 37.1 percent from the field. He improved slightly to 14.5 points and 4.1 rebounds on 39.8 percent shooting in 1996-97, but he was still an inefficient scorer who rarely looked to get his teammates involved.
Those Boston teams were not exactly full of talent, but Day’s penchant for jacking up contested, difficult shots certainly did not help them win games.
Ultimately, the best thing Day did for Boston was score a franchise-record 24 points in a quarter against Minnesota in 1995, a record that he shares with Pierce and Bird to this day.
He finished his career averaging 12.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three-point range.
Day was a talented player who showed flashes of being something special with the Bucks, but ultimately, he never took the steps necessary to develop that talent and will forever be associated with one of the franchise’s bleakest stretches in the minds of Boston fans.
A former first overall pick of the Sacramento Kings, “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison had a few quality seasons with the Washington Bullets before signing a six-year, $12 million free-agent deal with Boston in the 1994 offseason.
Ellison was a quality defender, rebounder and shot-blocker in his younger days and even flashed some solid skills on the offensive end of the floor. In 1991-92 he averaged 20.0 points, 11.2 boards, 2.9 assists and 2.7 blocks while shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
Unfortunately, Ellison simply could not stay healthy with Boston, appearing in more than 55 games just once in his five seasons with the team. He appeared in just 69 combined games in the final three years of his deal.
Ellison’s best year with the Celtics came in 1995-96, when he posted 5.3 points, 6.5 boards and 1.4 blocks on 49.2 percent shooting from the field—a far cry from his Washington numbers.
With the Celtics, Ellison battled a slew of knee problems as well as a broken toe that kept him on the bench for long stretches between 1996 and 1998.
Obviously, injuries are not a player’s fault, but Boston made a major gamble that Ellison could be its center of the future and his failure to even stay on the court seriously set the franchise back.
To put it simply, Ellison is an embarrassment more because he represents a colossal failure for the organization than any of his own shortcomings.
Ellison retired in 2000 after nine games as a Seattle SuperSonic. He finished his career with averages of 9.5 points, 6.7 boards, 1.5 dimes and 1.6 rejections on 51 percent shooting.
Expectations for a mid-first-round selection vary for each team, but in his lone season with Boston, Joe Forte was nothing short of horrendous in every facet of the game.
Drafted 21st overall in 2001, Forte appeared in just eight games, clashed with the front office, and wound up averaging a horrible but symmetrical 0.8 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists on 8.3 percent shooting from the field.
A successful scorer at North Carolina who averaged 20.9 points as a sophomore, Forte struggled to adjust to a more complementary role in the NBA and wound up being benched for most of his rookie campaign.
To make matters worse, Forte also showed his unhappiness by rebelling against the team. He wore a Magic Johnson jersey during the playoffs, according to Antawn Jamison via ESPN’s Patrick Hruby, and refused to make the adjustments necessary to play the point instead of the 2.
Boston dealt Forte in the 2002 offseason to Seattle, where he played 17 games and averaged 1.4 points, 0.6 boards and 0.6 assists on 28.6 percent shooting. The Sonics waived him in October 2004.
Forte had the talent to succeed as a scorer in the league, but his poor attitude consistently got in the way. Now all he will be remembered as is the guy Boston took instead of Tony Parker.
Back in the league after stints in Russia, China and the D-League, Gerald Green began his career as the 18th overall selection in the 2005 draft out of high school.
A superb athlete, Green suffered from similar issues to Brown, albeit his overall offensive game was slightly more polished than Brown’s as a rookie.
Green is a career 35.1 percent shooter from three, but he truly made his bones with the Celtics as a high-flyer and a transcendent athlete who could make plays above the rim. He won the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest but could never seem to find a use for that athleticism in other aspects of basketball.
For his turbulent career, Green boasts averages of 8.0 points and 2.3 boards on 41.8 percent shooting overall.
As a sophomore with Boston he averaged a respectable 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist while shooting 38.6 percent from three. However, he only connected on 41.9 percent of his field goals overall.
Despite his superb quickness, length and size for the wing, Green struggled on defense and had plenty of issues adapting to the NBA game.
Green was shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Garnett deal but ultimately wound up out of the league for two seasons after a disappointing run with the Dallas Mavericks.
His story ends happily, though, as Green showed some major growth as a player with the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12 while still being able to make highlight-reel plays. His success with New Jersey earned him a multi-year deal with the Indiana Pacers, who shipped him to the Suns in the 2013 offseason.
Though Green’s career turned out decent, his struggles with the Celtics are proof that all the athletic talent in the world does not matter if a player is unwilling to work hard or value the defensive end of the floor.
While he did not have the same weighty expectations as a lottery pick, Green’s failure to turn into anything more than a dunker during his two seasons in green is certainly disappointing.
After more than a decade as the SuperSonics’ franchise player, Gary Payton did not exactly age gracefully in the NBA. Payton spent a year chasing a ring with the Los Angeles Lakers before he was traded to the Boston Celtics before the 2004-05 season.
At the time, it was abundantly clear that the 36-year-old Payton was past his prime. Or at least it was clear to everyone in the world not named Gary Payton.
Payton’s averages of 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists on 46.8 percent shooting overall and 32.6 percent from three were decent but a far cry from his numbers in Seattle or even L.A.
Despite his age and lack of quickness, Payton was still attempting to take defenders off the dribble and attack the basket as he did in his younger days. Never an elite outside shooter, Payton struggled to put points on the board and took valuable minutes from young guards Marcus Banks and Delonte West.
His perimeter defense had also slipped quite considerably from his time as “The Glove,” and he had some serious trouble containing the league’s more explosive point guards.
Payton also disappointed in the playoffs, averaging 10.3 points, 4.1 boards and 4.6 dimes but shooting 44.6 percent from the field and a dismal 7.1 percent from deep.
To make matters worse, Payton’s Boston tenure ended in a humiliating home Game 7 blowout loss against the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers in which he shot just 3-of-10.
Payton went on to win a title as a role player with Miami and finished his career averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 boards and 6.7 assists on 46.6 percent shooting, but the major blemish on his résumé will always be that embarrassing year in Boston.
In need of a backup big man, the Celts signed the then-34-year-old Rasheed Wallace to a three-year deal in the 2009 offseason, hoping to bolster their shot at a second title in the KG-Pierce era.
Wallace, who won a title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, was expected to bring his interior defense, three-point shooting and unique brand of leadership to a Celtics team that needed one more quality veteran big.
Unfortunately, Wallace struggled with his conditioning and had the worst season of his career with Boston, averaging 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 assist while shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor and 28.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Once touted for his deceptive quickness and his ability to guard power forwards and centers, the slower-footed Sheed had trouble in Doc Rivers’ defensive schemes while not displaying the same level of aggressiveness he did in his prime.
Beyond just his defensive issues, Wallace also chucked up perimeter shots instead of attacking from the post. Per game, he attempted 3.7 threes and 2.2 shots from beyond 10 feet compared to only 1.3 shots at the rim, according to HoopData.
Sheed did not improve in the playoffs either, as he averaged a mere 6.1 points and 3.0 boards on 41.6 percent shooting overall and 34.5 percent from distance. He was hitting his threes more consistently but still doing just about everything else poorly.
With Kendrick Perkins sidelined for Game 7 against the Lakers, Wallace had the opportunity to change his Celtics legacy by submitting a quality performance. However, he posted 11 points and eight boards while shooting 5-of-11 before fouling out.
He failed to keep Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom off the glass as well, as L.A. crashed the boards and ultimately stole the game in the fourth quarter.
Wallace is now an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons, and any fond recollection of Sheed’s legacy will almost certainly not involve his year in Boston or his stint with New York in 2012-13.
Sheed finished his career with averages of 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 46.7 percent shooting overall and 33.6 percent from deep.
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