Seventeen NBA championships and 33 Hall-of-Fame inductees have come as a result of the plethora of talents that have played in Beantown, including current Celtics superstar Paul Pierce.
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With an NBA championship in 2008 and helping his Boston Celtics to be championship contenders since, Pierce has sealed the deal as one of the top players to grace the franchise in its 66-year history.
Yet when incorporating the team”s past talents like Bill Russell of the 1950s and 60s, John Havlicek of the 1960s and Larry Bird and his monster team of the 1980s, where does Paul Pierce rank among Boston”s legends?
Here are Paul Pierce and the 10 best life-long Celtics in team history.
NOTE: This list excludes players like Dave Cowens, Robert Parish, Jo Jo White, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, and Bob Cousy, as they all technically did not play play each year of their career with the Boston Celtics, as they would otherwise all be in consideration for this list.
No. 10: K.C. Jones
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K.C. Jones was a PG with a role that would increase with his years in the organization.
A nine-year member of the Boston Celtics, Jones would begin to see starter”s minutes in his final four season with the team. An aggressive, tough-minded PG on both ends, Jones averaged 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds for the team for his career.
The eight-time NBA-champion ranked in the top 10 in assists in the NBA from 1963 to 1967.
No. 9: Reggie Lewis
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In his six seasons with the Boston Celtics, Reggie Lewis made a statement with his play on the offensive end of the floor.
After a rookie year in 1987 where Lewis averaged a total of just 8.3 minutes per game, Lewis would end up leading the team with 20.8 points per game in 1992 and 1993. The 1992 season still boasted the talents of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish as well.
The basketball world would lose Lewis when he would collapse in 1993 on the court. Lewis” number was later retired by the team.
No. 8: Tom “Satch” Sanders
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A member of eight championship teams in 13 seasons, Sanders was a key player in Boston Celtics history.
Known for his lock-down defense, Sanders averaged 6.3 rebounds per game during the course of the regular season for his career and 8.8 rebounds per game when it came playoff time.
Sanders would make the 1968-69 NBA All-Defensive second team for his contributions on the defensive end in his final championship run and season with the team.
No. 7: Sam Jones
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At 6″4″”, Sam Jones was one of the more solid scoring guards the Celtics boasted during the late 1950s and the majority of the 1960s in what was known as the Bill Russell-era.
Jones, who averaged 17.7 points per game with the team for his career, was aggressive on the offensive end and shot the ball fairly well at just over 45 percent.
A member of 10 NBA championship teams with the Celtics, there is no question Jones gets a spot on the top-10 life-long Celtics of all time.
No. 6: Tom Heinsohn
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Tommy Heinsohn, current voice for the Celtics on Comcast SportsNet New England, was also one of the more talented Celtics of all time.
During his first six seasons in the league, Heinsohn averaged at least 9.5 rebounds a game each season including two seasons which featured averages of at least 10 per game.
His ability to rebound as well as score the basketball helped lift the Celtics team of the Russell-era to win as many championships as they did. Heinsohn was a part of eight championship teams in nine seasons and was awarded NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957.
No. 5: Kevin McHale
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A Hall-of-Fame inductee in 1999, Kevin McHale was one of the major reasons the Boston Celtics were able to win three NBA championships in the 1980s.
McHale was known for his raw scoring ability averaging 21.3 points per game in the Celtics 1986 championship season run. Yet he was also as solid a rebounder at the power forward spot that this team has ever had. McHale averaged at least eight rebounds per game from 1984 to 1989 during the playoffs.
A defensive machine, McHale was named to the NBA”s All-Defensive team three different seasons during his tenure.
No. 4: John Havlicek
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One of the more solid shooters in team history, John Havlicek easily earns himself one of the top five spots on the list of the greatest life-long Celtics of all time.
Havlicek was known for his dominant offensive game, averaging top-10 point per game numbers from 1969-1973. The 1974 NBA Finals MVP was a 13-time All-Star in 16 seasons in the league.
Not to mention Havlicek was also known for his outstanding efforts defensively. When it came to helping these Celtics win games there is no question this is a player that gave his all in each facet of the game. This eight-time champion was special for the franchise in that he was a member of 1960s and 1970s titles.
No. 3: Paul Pierce
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Arguably the best scorer in Boston Celtics history alongside Larry Bird, Paul Pierce hands-down deserves a top-three spot in the list of all-time Celtics greats to play their entire career in Boston.
An NBA champion in 2008 with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen playing at his side, Pierce has solidified himself as one of the greatest players to play in Beantown. For his career, “The Truth” averaged 22.1 points and six rebounds per game.
The 22.1 points per game are the 29th highest mark in NBA history.
In the Celtics” championship series in 2008 over the L.A. Lakers, Pierce was also named in the NBA Finals MVP. Continuing to have the Celtics contending for NBA championships, Pierce”s legacy only has more room to grow.
No. 2: Larry Bird
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Larry Legend, otherwise known as “the Hick from French Lick,” was one of the most feared talents the Celtics ever boasted.
His ability to make teammates better offensively as well as his scrappy defense made him one of the more talented players to ever grace the game. Arguably the best scorer in team history, Bird averaged 24.3 points per game for his career.
The three-time NBA champion reeled in the awards throughout his career. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1980, NBA Finals MVP in 1984 and 1986 and league MVP in 1984, 1985, and 1986.
Talk about a player to remember in Boston Celtics history.
No. 1: Bill Russell
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Eleven NBA championships in 13 NBA seasons, an average of over 22 rebounds per game for his career and five MVP awards makes Bill Russell the clear front-runner as the best life-long Boston Celtic of all time.
Arguably one of the better centers to ever play the game, Russell was a rebounding machine that dominated his position during his time in the league. If blocks were a recorded statistic, chances are Russell would have himself another place in the NBA record books as well as his defense was up there with the best in league history.
In just three of his 13 seasons, Russell averaged less than 20 rebounds per game. Talk about some impressive numbers from the NBA legend.
A player that will forever be the staple of the Celtics franchise, Bill Russell is easily the best Boston Celtics player to ever put on the green and white.
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