Celtics

From small beginnings at Dunbar High to stardom

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From small beginnings at Dunbar High to stardom

BOSTON — Before star-studded prep schools and AAU "dream teams" took over the high school basketball scene, the Dunbar Poets in Baltimore were a national high school basketball power in the 1980s.

And while Reggie Lewis went on to become the most accomplished member of the Dunbar basketball family, no one would have envisioned the impact he would made on both the college and pro levels.

Not only was Lewis not a star at Dunbar, he didn't even start.

"How the hell the coach of Northeastern knew Reggie Lewis had the talent is beyond me," Tim Dawson, a starter center on the 1981 and '82 Dunbar teams, told Slam magazine. "Because Reggie Lewis never really played."

But when the opportunity to make an impact presented itself, even back then he made the most of it.

A Christmas tournament in 1982 featured key players on the Dunbar squad getting in foul trouble, which afforded Lewis, and his ultra-quick first step to the basket, an opportunity to shine.

He would go on to be named to the tournament's first team.

You won't find Lewis' career numbers anywhere close to being among the best in Dunbar history. But make no mistake about it: Lewis is regarded as one of the best - if not the best - player to ever come out of this once-dominant basketball powerhouse.

"They haven't forgotten about him in Baltimore," said Bob Wade, his coach at Dunbar. "What he meant to this program, to this city, to the state of Maryland. I'm just so proud of all his accomplishments."

David Wingate was a former prep teammate of Lewis who went on to play at Georgetown and later spent 15 seasons in the NBA.

"Everybody is going to remember Reggie," Wingate said. "Reggie was one of the ones who was most successful in the NBA, out of our group in high school."

That group included Mugsy Bogues who ,at 5-foot-3, was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA.

"He had so much to give, just his presence," a teary-eyed Bogues told Comcast SportsNet. "He cared for everybody."

And while it has been 20 years since his death, Lewis' memory is alive and well in the hearts of so many.

"I'll miss him forever," said former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun who, then the head coach at Northeastern, signed Lewis out of Dunbar. "He was like a child of mine. We all have to deal with loss, but I'll always remember Reggie. I remember Reggie hitting game winners. I remember Reggie being drafted. I remember Reggie being captain of the Celtics. I remember so many positive, great things about Reggie that nothing in this world could ever take that away from him until the day I die."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE