Boston Celtics: Ranking the 15 Most Influential Contributors in Team History

Luis BatlleContributor IJuly 29, 2011

Boston Celtics: Ranking the 15 Most Influential Contributors in Team History

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    In an NBA organization that has been successful as the Boston Celtics, there is no shortage of coaches, general managers and Hall of Fame talent that have been big influences along the way.

    Whether you talk about the legendary Red Auerbach, Bill Russell or Larry Bird, there have been a fair share of figures in Celtics history that have helped to move the the team forward and bring in championships.

    Seventeen championships, 32 Hall of Famers enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and now boasting a team that is currently an NBA championship contender, the Celtics have had their fair share of influential figures.

    Here are the 15 most influential figures in Boston Celtics history.

Honorable Mention: Nate "Tiny" Archibald

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    Nate "Tiny" Archibald deserves his own share of spotlight on this list, as he was a key asset to the Boston Celtics title run in 1981.

    Despite just playing five seasons with the team, he was a solid point guard that could score the basketball and play tough defense.

    Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, Archibald is arguably one of the better point guards to ever wear a Celtics uniform and earns a spot on this list.

No. 15: Robert Parish

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    Notorious for his tough, big-play defense and sound offensive game, Robert Parish is arguably one of the more influential Celtics to play the game.

    Parish, a four-time champion who won three of them with Larry Bird and the 1980s Celtics squad, was an integral reason why the team was able to win those three titles. He posed a third scoring threat behind the leadership of McHale and Bird, while also getting it done defensively in the paint.

    In the 1984 championship run, he averaged 14.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per a game in the playoffs, while also managing to block 41 shots.

    Alongside Bird and Kevin McHale, Parish played a key role in helping this Celtics team take over in the '80s.

No. 14: Bill Sharman

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    A great in both Boston Celtics and USC history, Bill Sharman is as sound a Hall of Famer as there is in Celtics history.

    Sharman was a guard that scored the ball efficiently and was able to help the Celtics win four championships a span of just five seasons. He played 10 seasons with the team and 11 in the league.

    One of the better scoring guards in Celtics history, Sharman averaged 17.8 points per game for his career and also shot a whopping 88.3 percent from the line.

No. 13: Doc Rivers

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    Current Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is easily the most succesful coach the Celtics have had in the last 20 years.

    Rivers turned around a Celtics team that had struggled mightily throughout the '90s. After a slow start, Rivers was able to get the right players together and help build a sense of unity on a team that lacked it.

    In 2008, Rivers was able to help lead Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and his Celtics team to an NBA championship.

    Rivers just signed a five-year contract with the team, as Danny Ainge and company hope Rivers can continue to keep the Celtics as an NBA championship contender.

No. 12: JoJo White

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    Another top guard in Celtics history, Jo Jo White was a big reason why the team was a contender in the mid-1970s.

    White won championships with the team in 1974 and 1976, taking the honors of NBA Finals MVP in 1976. White was known as a scorer that could dish out the ball well and even grab rebounds.

    For his career, he averaged an impressive and consistent four rebounds per game.

No. 11: Dennis Johnson

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    Talk about a solid point guard in Celtics history.

    Dennis "DJ" Johnson played point guard for the Celtics from 1983 to 1990, playing with the team during the 1984 and 1986 championship runs.

    DJ was not a player that was known for scoring the basketball and putting up the big numbers, yet he was arguably as valuable a player for the Celtics '80s team in that he brought a sound defensive presence at the point guard position.

    Johnson recorded 1.5 steals and 4.3 rebounds per game for his career, while also managing to make the NBA All-Defensive team in six different seasons.

No. 10: Danny Ainge

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    Despite being recently criticized for the trading of young center Kendrick Perkins, Danny Ainge is a GM that has made a major impact in the Celtics organization.

    Ainge brought in head coach Doc Rivers from the Orlando Magic, marking one of his first moves in the position with the team.

    Soon after, he was able to put together some solid NBA drafts and bring in some solid talent. In the 2006 draft, he brought in Tony Allen, Delonte West and Al Jefferson. Talk about a draft.

    Soon after in 2007, he would trade for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, taking the Celtics from the second-worst team in the NBA to an NBA championship team.

    Ainge was also a Celtic as a player in the league. He played solid minutes as a role player for the team during the '80s when the team won championships in 1984 and 1986.

No. 9: Paul Pierce

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    With just one championship to his name, Paul Pierce is definitely not one of the Celtics with the most NBA titles, yet even still he is arguably one of the most influential in team history.

    Without Paul Pierce, the Celtics are the laughing-stock of the NBA from the mid-1990s until today. Without Pierce there is a team that struggles to win 25 basketball games in a season.

    In 2008, Pierce played an integral role in putting up the 17th championship banner for the Celtics. He has played all 13 seasons in the league with the Celtics, as he will arguably go down as one of the best scorers in Celtics history alongside Larry Bird.

    For his career, Pierce has scored over 20,000 points, averages 21.6 points points a contest and grabs 5.6 rebounds per game. In the 2008 championship run, Pierce was also named NBA Finals MVP.

No. 8: Kevin McHale

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    Kevin McHale will go down as arguably the best power forward in Boston Celtics history.

    McHale was an all-around beast of a player, getting it done on both ends of the floor. He could block shots and rebound the ball on one end, while playing an integral role offensively as well.

    Alongside Larry Bird and Robert Parish, the Celtics were as tough a team as there was in the '80s. McHale averaged a solid 24.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during the team's 1985-1986 championship season.

    Talk about some production. Not to mention it came at a time where the league was as solid and competitive as it has ever been.

No. 7: Tommy Heinsohn

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    Now the TV voice of the Boston Celtics with New England's Comcast SportsNet, Tommy Heinsohn is also  a top-10 player in Celtics history.players to put on a Celtics uniform team history.

    Heinsohn was a member of the team for eight championships, including seven consecutive titles from 1959-1965.

    Heinsohn was a solid scorer for the team, averaging 18.6 points per game. He was also a gut that attacked the glass, grabbing 8.8 a contest for his career including two seasons where he averaged over 10 boards.

    Now the voice for the Celtics calling the games on Comcast, Heinsohn continues to be an influence on the Celtics organization today.

No. 6: John Havlicek

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    "Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over!"

    The famous words of Johnny Most describe one of the more memorable moments in Boston Celtics history. John Havlicek stole the ball on a Hal Greer inbound pass that would help the Celtics close out the Eastern Conference finals against the Wilt Chamberlain-lead Philadelphia 76ers.

    Havlicek was a talented player that was a scoring threat with a sound jump-shot. He was a part of eight Celtics championships, winning six championships in a stretch of seven seasons in the '60s and two championships in the '70s.

    Havlicek was arguably as good a defender as the team had in those championship runs, as he was a consistent NBA All-Defensive team member season after season.

No. 5: Dave Cowens

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    Dave Cowens was a member of the Boston Celtics during the 1970s, when the Celtics were able to win two championships in 1974 and 1976.

    Cowens was the NBA MVP in the 1972-1973 season and won the NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1971.

    Arguably one of the best players in Boston Celtics history, Cowens averaged 17.3 points and a whopping 13.6 rebounds per game for his career. A beast inside, this Celtics great has made a name for himself in team history as well as league history.

No. 4: Bob Cousy

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    What didn't this guy do?

    Bob Cousy was an All-Star each of his 13 seasons in the league, was an All-NBA First Team member 10 consecutive seasons, won the NBA MVP honors in the 1956-1957 season and helped the Celtics win six championships in seven seasons.

    Quite the mouthful.

    For his career, Cousy averaged 18.5 points, five rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. Cousy could score the ball as well as make other players around him better.

    At the time, he helped to define the point guard position and was as good a passer as their was out there.

    Cousy goes down as not only the best point guard in Celtics history but arguably one of the best point guards of all time.

No. 3: Larry Bird

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    The small-town talent from French Lick is argued by many as the most influential player in Boston Celtics history.

    Larry Legend was a scorer, passer, rebounder and solid defender. Overall, he was a player that could do a little bit of everything for his team. Bird helped the Celtics to win three NBA championships in the 1980s, winning it all in 1981, 1984 and 1986.

    Bird was three-time NBA MVP, winning the award three consecutive seasons. He was also a winner of the NBA Finals MVP in the 1984 and 1986 NBA Finals.

No. 2: Bill Russell

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    Bill Rusell goes down as arguably the best player in Boston Celtics history, yet he is also a guy that has helped shape the Celtics organization from top to bottom.

    Russell won 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons with the team, while also becoming the first African-American coach in both NBA and sports history. Him and the Red Auerbach led a team in the late '50s and '60s that dominated the league.

    As a player Russell was a tough defensive presence that could also score the ball. The guy averaged over 20 rebounds a contest for his career, grabbing 22.5 a game. Russell also boasted a scoring ability, as he put up just over 15 points per game as well.

    Not to mention the NBA Finals MVP award has recently been named after him, as Russell is known as not only one of the most influential players in Celtics history but one of the bigger figures in NBA history.

No. 1: Red Auerbach

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    Who else but the infamous Red Auerbach?

    Auerbach helped to assemble championship team after championship team each decade with this Celtics team.

    From the beginning Auerbach established winning ways in the city of Boston, helping to assemble the Russell-lead team of the '60s, the '70s team of Cowens and company and the Bird, McHale one-two-punch of the '80s.

    The architect and general behind the Celtics organization for nearly half a century will forever be remembered for his ability to create winning teams.

    Auerbach passed away in 2006, just before the Celtics were able to put together a championship run in 2008.

     

     

    Luis Batlle is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report (Boston Celtics).

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