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Who's The Greatest Boston Celtic? Ranking The Top 10 Best Celtics Players Of All Time

Jayson Tatum - NBA DFS Picks, Daily Fantasy Basketball, NBA Injury News

The Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. With a championship tradition that's led to 16 titles, the Celtics have had a huge amount of legendary players suit up for the organization.

The franchise has 23 retired numbers, most worn by their all-time best players. Out of that number, ten have embodied Celtic Pride the most, making them immortals among the franchise’s die-hard fans.

Though it's a difficult task with tough cuts, here are the 10 best players to have worn the Boston Celtics uniform.

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10. Paul Pierce

While it needed the help of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to win his only NBA championship, Paul Anthony Pierce has been a loyal Celtics camper for 15 seasons. He was already playing for Boston when they had a resurgence in the early 2000s with Antoine Walker and Kenny Anderson. Pierce was the link from that era to the new Big Three, bringing title number 17 to Beantown.

During his time with the Celtics, Pierce became a Finals Most Valuable Player and a ten-time All-Star. The former Kansas standout also had one All-NBA Second Team and three All-NBA Third Team distinctions. He holds the franchise record for most free throws made (5808) and three-point field goals made (1578). “The Truth” had his number 34 jersey retired in February 2018.


9. Robert Parish

Robert Lee Parish was the Celtics’ defensive anchor in the 1980s. His stoic demeanor earned him the nickname “The Chief.” It was a great moniker because he outlawed anyone who would drive down the lane with his shot-blocking ability and rebounding. He also knocked down some baskets using his patented jump shot. Parish played for the Celtics from 1980 to 1994, earning three NBA championships.

The Centenary College alumnus became a nine-time NBA All-Star and a 1982 All-NBA Second Team member in Boston. He is a member of the NBA 50th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. His 1,106 games with the franchise are a massive part of his all-time record of 1,611 games played. The Celtics retired his double-zero (00) jersey in 1998.


8. Sam Jones

Samuel Jones is one of the lesser-known Celtics greats. However, any NBA player (except for Bill Russell) would trade their credentials for his. The guard from North Carolina Central won ten NBA championships in 12 seasons. He also excels in high-pressure moments by sinking in clutch baskets. He was also the franchise’s leading scorer when he retired in 1969.

He was a marksman from the perimeter, and his mastery of the bank shot earned him the nickname “The Shooter.” Aside from those championships, Jones was also a five-time NBA All-Star and three-time All-NBA Second Team member. Jones is a member of the NBA’s 25th, 50th, and 75th Anniversary Teams. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.


7. Tommy Heinsohn

None of the players on this list can boast of their impact on the Celtics organization more than Thomas William Heinsohn. He was appropriately called “Mr. Celtic” because he is the only individual involved in an official team capacity in the franchise’s first 17 championships. Heinsohn earned eight as a player, two as a coach, and seven as the color commentator for the Celtics’ official local broadcast.

Heinsohn became a six-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-NBA Second Team member during his playing years. He was also the 1973 NBA Coach of the Year. After playing four seasons at Holy Cross, the Celtics made him their territorial pick in 1956. While his career was cut short by a foot injury, his impact on the Celtics and the league as a former NBA Players Association President was profound.


6. Dave Cowens

David William Cowens is one of the primary reasons the Celtics remained competitive in the 1970s. He led the squad to NBA titles in 1974 and 1976 and was also the 1973 Most Valuable Player. His hustle and grit typified the franchise’s winning formula for decades. He played ten seasons in Boston and became an eight-time NBA All-Star. He was also a three-time All-NBA Second Team member.

Cowens also excelled on defense, earning two NBA All-Defensive Second Team and one NBA All-Defensive First Team distinction. He also served as Celtics playing coach during the 1978-79 season. This Kentucky native was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. As a testament to his versatility, he is the first player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks for a season.


5. Kevin McHale

No one wanted to be isolated in his “torture chamber” on the low block. That’s where Kevin Edward McHale earned a living, using his dizzying, contortionist moves to earn points. He used that advantage to help the Celtics win three championships in the 1980s. McHale was also a seven-time NBA All-Star and 1987 All-NBA First Team member.

McHale was also a gem on defense, earning three NBA All-Defensive First Team honors. The Power Forward from the University of Minnesota also earned back-to-back NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors in 1984 and 1985. He played all 13 NBA seasons with the Celtics, and the franchise retired his number 32 jersey in January 1994. McHale was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.


4. Bob Cousy

Legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach initially didn’t like Robert Joseph Cousy’s style of play. But he soon changed his mind after seeing the point guard from Holy Cross play. His ability to pull passing tricks earned him the nickname “Houdini of the Hardwood.” Cousy played 13 seasons for the Celtics, earning six NBA titles and the 1957 Most Valuable Player award.

He was also a 13-time NBA All-Star and a ten-time All-NBA First Team member. While he dazzled fans by being a showman, he still led the league in assists eight times. Cousy was only one of four players in the NBA’s 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th-anniversary teams. His game may be regarded as streetball nowadays, but this Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer made the sport more exciting.


3. John Havlicek

John Joseph Havlicek made the “sixth man” role glamorous during his stint with the Celtics in the 1960s. He was also the link between the stars of that era, like Cousy, Jones, Heinsohn, and Bill Russell, to Celtics greats of the 1970s, like Cowens and Jojo White. He played 16 NBA seasons, all with the Celtics, and is still the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points.

This guard/forward from Ohio State won eight NBA championships and was the 1974 Finals MVP. "Hondo" also made it to 13 NBA All-Star rosters and was selected All-NBA First Team four times. Havlicek is also a five-time NBA All-Defensive First-Team member. The Celtics have retired his number 17 jersey, and he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.


2. Larry Bird

If Havlicek played one more season, it would have been a seamless transition from him to Larry Joe Bird. The former Indiana State sensation played for the Celtics a year after he got drafted. But he was worth the wait after becoming the 1980 NBA Rookie of the Year. A year later, he led Boston to his first of three championships. He also became the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1984, 1985, and 1986.

Bird is regarded as one of the best shooters of all time, becoming a member of the prestigious 50-40-90 club twice. He also has nine All-NBA First Team and three NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections. More importantly, his rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers helped the NBA become a global brand. He retired as a player in 1992 and enjoyed success as a coach and front-office executive.


1. Bill Russell

William Felton Russell is a trailblazer. He became the first black NBA player to become a superstar and the first black coach in NBA history. He was also the first black coach to win a championship after leading the Celtics as playing coach in 1966. Russell is also the NBA’s most outstanding winner, with 11 championships, including seven straight titles from 1959 to 1966.

The University of San Francisco alumnus also blazed the trail for the Celtics’ vaunted fastbreak. He would throw an outlet pass after a block or a rebound, helping his team dominate opponents. Russell won five NBA MVPs and had three All-NBA First-Team selections. He received the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. The NBA retired his number 6 jersey, and the league named the Finals MVP award after him.

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