In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the fall of my beloved franchise, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the better times. From the day I was born I’ve been a Celtics fan, and the past 25 years have brought a whole cast of characters through the green and white. But among all the All-Stars and Hall of Famers, here are the 10 that stick out in my mind.
1. Chauncey Billups – Even though he only made it 51 games, because of my last name, when Chauncey got drafted I was then known as Chauncey Phillips. Not a bad nickname if you ask me. I understand that trading him for veteran Kenny Anderson at the time made sense, but it’s not like Billups wasn’t producing. Before the Celtics traded him, he was averaging 11.1 points and 4.3 assists in only 25.4 per game. If only he’d stayed…
2. Joe Johnson – Another guy traded way too soon, Johnson was shipped out after only 48 games in Beantown. Did they not learn from their mistakes? Now Joe Jeezy is going to be one of the premier free agents this summer and another haunting ghost from Boston’s past.
3. Rajon Rondo – The only current Celtic that I have on this list, Rondo is the future of the franchise. If you don’t like his game, then you just don’t like basketball.
4. Dee Brown – Besides the dunk contest, No. 7 was a great guy to have on the team. People don’t often remember that he averaged over 15 points per game for two straight seasons, and could also drop dimes, grab boards and steal the ball.
5. Gerald Green – The true DimeMag.com readers know that this list wouldn’t be complete without G-Money. Sure he never turned into the next Tracy McGrady, but he and his 48-inch vertical had a nice run on SportsCenter.
6. Andrew DeClercq & Vitaly Potapenko – Sure DeClercq only played one full season for the Celtics, but he was a blue-collared guy that I could rally around. Always good for some rebounds and hard fouls, who wouldn’t want him on their team? Plus, one of the greatest things about DeClercq is that he was traded to Cleveland for Vitaly Potapenko straight up. Before there was Big Z, there was Big V. Potapenko played the best ball of his career in Boston, and tacked on another five years to his career because of it.
7. Walter McCarty – Just like Tommy Heinsohn, I love Waltah! In fact, there’s probably no one with more career Tommy Points than him. Read this amazing account from Heinsohn:
“Why I got involved with Walter, to begin with he was such a breath of fresh air. He just let it all hang out when he joined the Celtics. He brought a freshness and vitality to looking at the team. (Bob) Cousy, who is a purist, didn’t take to Walter right away, (because) he’s 6-(foot-)10 and a skinny guy, the whole bit. But Walter, up in Toronto, made a three to win the game, and we were doing the broadcast. Cousy says, ‘I think I’m getting to love Walter.’ I said: ‘It’s too late to join the Walter McCarty Fan Club right now. If you want to join, it’s 25 dollars. Everyone else can get in for free, but you have to pay 25 dollars.’ Well, all of a sudden, everyone starts e-mailing the station (and) asking how they can join the Walter McCarty Fan Club. So I get on the air a couple games down the road and say: ‘Cousy is the only one who has to pay. Everybody else, all you’ve got to do, after every game, is throw open your window and yell, ‘I Love Walter!’ ‘ A couple weeks go by and they start getting e-mails from mothers in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire (that say), ‘Will you please stop telling my kids to throw open the window and shout ‘I Love Walter?’ ‘ Kids were actually doing it. I go out and speak now the first thing I say is, ‘I Love Walter!’ Things have not always gone well for Walter here, but what I saw in Walter is this unbridled enthusiasm and energy. I compared him to the Energizer Bunny. It’s not that he attained any greatness as a player per se, but he had the stuff of all the great Celtics. The attitude.”
8. Rick Fox – Before Rick Fox was Rick Fox, he was the heart and soul of the Celtics. It’s kind of sad to think that most people just think of him today as a celebrity or an actor, but Fox got it all going on the court in Boston.
9. Leon Powe – The single reason why the Celtics won the NBA Championship in 2008 is Powe. Sure there was the Big Three plus Rondo and Perk, but Powe was an absolute monster. If only he hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d still be in a Celtics uniform today.
10. Dino Radja – During his long basketball career, it’s kind of crazy to think that Dino only played for one NBA team, but he definitely left his mark. When he joined the Celtics in 1993, he averaged 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in his first season and went on to average 16.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during his three successful years with the franchise. He should have never left.
What do you think? Who would make your list?
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