The latest episode of the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” continued to shed light on not just the final season of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls but also some of the more memorable basketball moments of that time.
Among them is the formation of the 1992 “Dream Team” which was the first time NBA players were allowed to compete in the Olympics.
The pool of talent for that team was deep, obviously.
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And when it comes to putting together a Boston Celtics-themed “Dream Team,” the possibilities are even more endless.
That’s not all that surprising when you consider the Celtics have won more NBA titles (17) than any team in NBA history, annually churning out Hall of Famers to be inducted.
For the sake of consistency, we’ll construct the Celtics Dream team in similar fashion to the 1992 Dream Team which steamrolled over the competition to win the Gold Medal.
We will start with 10 players, led by two captains. We'll add an 11th veteran to the team and the 12th spot will go to a talented player with promise who isn't quite as accomplished as the rest of the team. On the original Dream Team, that was Christian Laettner from Duke.
Bill Russell: It’s impossible to put together any kind of elite team involving the Boston Celtics and not begin with Bill Russell. His 11 NBA titles will forever rank him among the greatest winners in any professional sport. And that doesn’t include the Olympic Gold medal he won in 1956. A basketball icon unlike any the NBA has seen before or since then.
John Havlicek: He’s the Celtics’ all-time leading scorer but for those who have either seen or played with Havlicek, they knew he was so much more than that. The 6-foot-5 forward had the kind of all-around game that allowed him to make a difference at both ends of the floor, regardless of the scenario. Hondo was just that good!
Larry Bird: Similar to Havlicek, Bird’s versatility gets often overlooked because he was such a good shooter. But the more you watched him play, the clearer it became that above all else, Bird was a player capable of doing whatever was needed in order to win.
Bob Cousy: As much as the goal every game is to win, having someone with that approach and some flashiness to their game can’t hurt, right? Cousy was indeed a showman with the ball, nicknamed the Houdini of the Hardwood. His playmaking might have been off-putting to some, but here’s the thing: It worked in helping the Celtics to become the NBA’s first true basketball behemoth for decades.
Sam Jones: A Hall of Fame shooting guard, Sam Jones was one of the best at finding ways to score, whether it be with the jumper or getting to the rim off the dribble. And he did it with an elite level of consistency, averaging 17.7 points per game throughout his 12 NBA seasons, all with the Celtics.
Paul Pierce: The Truth finished his career in Boston as one of the team’s all-time great scorers while ranked among the franchise’s leaders in several other categories. Pierce makes the team because of his versatility not only as a scorer but also as a small-ball rebounder and initiator of offense who was one of the franchise’s great one-on-one scorers.
Dave Cowens: There are few to ever don a Celtics uniform who were better at throwing their body around and being physical than Cowens. His dive for a loose ball against the Milwaukee Bucks’ Oscar Robertson is one of the most iconic plays ever made by a Boston Celtic. That toughness made him a no-brainer for this team.
Kevin Garnett: It’s one thing to change a team’s fortunes from being futile to flourishing. It’s a completely different animal to change a franchise’s culture, which is exactly what Kevin Garnett did in Boston. Yes, he’s one of the most talented players to ever play in Boston. But the impact that he has on teams goes so much deeper than points, rebounds and assists.
Bill Sharman: One of the great shooters in the 1950s, Sharman was an eight-time All-Star with a career scoring average of 17.8 points per game. And if the game was tight, you wanted the ball in his hands. A career 88.3 percent free throw shooter, Sharman led the league in free throw percentage seven times.
Jo Jo White: In addition to being a talented player, Jo Jo White was one of the most durable players in Celtics history with a streak of five straight seasons in which he played all 82 regular-season games. White’s conditioning allowed him to wear down opponents over time, a key to him being named a seven-time All-Star. Like most of the men on this list, he eventually made his way to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Robert Parish: Scoring, rebounding and strong defense were the pillars of Robert Parish’s game, one that etched his place among the game’s all-time great centers. A four-time NBA champion and nine-time All-Star, only Russell stands ahead of him when you talk about Boston’s all-time great centers.
ON THE RISE
Jayson Tatum: The 22-year-old was nearing the end of a breakout year when the 2019-20 season was suspended indefinitely, putting up stats that had him statistically shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the all-time greats in NBA history. There’s still plenty of room for Tatum to get better, which is great news for the Celtics — and also kind of scary for foes who are trying to limit the latest Celtic with Hall-of-Fame promise.