With the 2009 NBA Draft approaching, we take a moment to revisit the five biggest moments in Celtics draft history. The good, the bad, and the ugly have shaped the franchise over the years, and we will count down the five most important.
5. Ping Pong Balls Send Duncan to San Antonio
Despite a 36 percent chance of landing the first overall pick in the "Tim Duncan sweepstakes", the Celtics ended up picking third. They selected Chauncey Billups. The Celtics didn't realize what they had with Billups, and the two parted ways too early.
This draft changed the fortunes of the franchise in many ways. Billups ended up a star for the rival Pistons for a decade. Duncan went on to win three championships with the Spurs. But had Duncan come to Boston the Celtics would likely not have landed Paul Pierce in the following draft.
What would have happened if Duncan came to Boston? The world will never know...
4. Celtics Trade the Fifth Pick and Pieces for Ray Allen
The Celtics took Jeff Green with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Green, however, was never to wear the Green and White.
Danny Ainge traded the rights to Green (along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak) to the Seattle Supersonics (that's the Oklahoma City Thunder, for you kids out there) for Ray Allen.
Of course, this move in and of itself does not mean much. But without this trade, it is reasonably certain that Boston would not have been fertile ground for Kevin Garnett to land in an attempt to win a championship.
Garnett came, the new big three was born, and the trophy came home.
3. Auerbach Owns the World in the 1956 Draft
Red made his usual series of complicated pre-draft moves (aka being Bill Belichick before Bill Belichick) and acquired the picks he wanted. He drafted Bill Russell (better known as the only guy in professional sports with more rings than fingers) and the future Rookie of the Year Tommy Heinsohn.
This was the beginning of the first Celtics dynasty, as well as the start of a culture of winning at the Garden.
2. Len Bias Overdoses
As good as some of the good moments were, the 1986 draft was equally tragic. Boston took Len Bias, a young star from Maryland, with the second pick overall. Bias was promising, and would have added to an already ridiculous Celtics roster.
But it was not meant to be.
Bias overdosed on cocaine and passed away just 48 hours after he was selected. It was certainly a tragic loss of life. It was also a big loss for the Celtics and seemed to lead to years of bad luck afterwards.
1. Red Auerbach gambles on Larry Bird
In 1978, Auerbach chose Indiana State Junior Larry Bird. He knew that Bird would return to Indiana State for his senior season and that if the pick were to matter, Bird would have to sign with the Celtics within one year of the draft.
Of course, Bird did sign right after losing the 1979 National Championship game. This is the biggest move to date, because some would say that Auerbach not only outsmarted the rest of the NBA (again), but acquired the greatest player of all-time.
They say it all comes out in the wash, but the Celtics seem to draft with the luck of the Irish more often than not.