Our last profile details the top seed in our tournament, the All-Time Boston Celtics Team. Not surprisingly, every single player on this roster is either already in the Hall of Fame, or will be inducted as soon as they are eligible. They have the most combined all-star game and all-NBA appearances of any franchise team, and have some of the most recognizable names in basketball history. They also have perhaps the tournament’s most balanced roster, with a mix of offensive and defensive play makers that will confound their opposition.
Bob Cousy is the easy choice for starting lead guard. Cousy was the premier play maker of his era, capturing eight straight assist titles from 1953 to 1960. After his rookie year, he made the All-NBA first team for 10 straight years, and helped Boston capture six titles in his final seven seasons. Speaking of championships, the starting two guard, Sam Jones, helped Boston win 10 titles in his 12 seasons with the team. While he wasn’t as decorated as some of his contemporaries, he was well known for his clutch play, as his legendary teammate once described (quoted from Elliot Kalb’s entertaining book, Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Basketball?: Mr Stats Sets the Record Straight on the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time): “Whenever the pressure was greatest, Sam was eager for the ball. Sam Jones had a champion’s heart. Under pressure, we had hidden on our team a class superstar of the highest caliber…in the seventh game of a championship series, I’ll take Sam over any player who’s ever walked on a court.” Jo Jo White, the backup point guard, was a key member of the Celtics’ two championship teams in the 1970s. His long Boston career allowed him to edge out Dennis Johnson, another worthy candidate, who is among several legends to miss the cut for this stacked roster. Bill Sharman is the backup two guard, and is among several bench players who have a convincing case for inclusion in the starting lineup. He was among the greatest free throw shooters in NBA history, and may have been the best shooter of his era.
Larry Bird, the starting small forward, is among the greatest players in NBA history. He captured three straight MVP awards from 1984 through 1986, and was one of the greatest shooters and passers who ever played at his position. Kevin McHale, who earned this author’s vote as the ninth greatest power forward in history, will start at the four. McHale was a master in the low post, and doubled as a defensive stopper who could guard a range of positions effectively. Off the bench, John Havlicek was one of the greatest forwards in NBA history, and was also an overqualified sixth man at the beginning of his career, who will fill that role for this team as well. Known for his clutch play and his tireless energy on the basketball court, “Hondo” was one of the game’s greatest all-around players, and he’ll play at both shooting guard and small forward for this team. Paul Pierce was one of the best pure scorers in team history, averaging over 25.0 PPG five times in his career, during a low-scoring era. He’ll also play both two guard and small forward, and he adds another three-point shooting threat to the roster. Tommy Heinsohn is now best known for his role as a beloved homer announcer, but he was first a Hall-of-Fame player (and coach) who could play both forward positions.
Bill Russell, perhaps the greatest defensive player in NBA history, is the starting center. Russell famously won 11 championships in his 13 seasons, an unfathomable record that is likely never to be broken in any of the four major sports. His unique impact was recognized by his peers, as he was voted MVP five times in an era when players voted on this award. He was also a phenomenal passer who will combine with Cousy and Bird to give Boston arguably the best passing starting lineup in the tournament. He’s backed up by Dave Cowens, who made up for his (relatively) small stature with an unrelenting work ethic. Cowens led the team to two titles in the 1970s, and he was another excellent passer for his position. The third center, Robert Parish, was a stoic pillar of the 1980s championship teams who was remarkably consistent in his 14 years with the franchise. Ed Macauley and Kevin Garnett are notable omissions from this deep frontcourt, both of whom would warrant inclusion on almost any other franchise team.
This team should be able to wear opponents out with their great depth. With 17 championships, they are our top-seeded team, and face the All-Time Milwaukee Bucks team in the second round of our tournament.
Coach: Red Auerbach
All-Time Franchise Winning Percentage (through 2014-15): .588