Founded in 1946, the Boston Celtics have been the NBA’s most successful franchise throughout their existence. They have won 17 NBA titles and have seen a number of great players don green jerseys over the past six decades. Here’s our list of some of the best Boston Celtics players of all time.
Considering various important factors like longevity, skills, impact on the club and performances, here are the 10 best Boston Celtics players of all time.
10. Jo Jo White
White, a sharp-shooting guard, played a team record 488 straight games and led the Celtics to two championships in the 70s and was the MVP of the 1976 finals. The Hall of Famer played 60 of 63 minutes in Game 5 of the of the ’76 finals, White excelled while playing with John Havlicek and Dave Cowens in the 1970s.
One of the best Boston Celtics players of all time, White starred in one of the most memorable games in NBA history, Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, where he scored 33 points and dished out nine dimes in a triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns. Finishing his career with the Kansas City Kings, White wound up averaging 17.2 points, four rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the field.
9. Sam Jones
Jones was a part of some of the greatest Celtics teams ever as he won an astounding 10 NBA titles, including 8 in a row, in his 12 years with Boston. Not only was he one of the best shooting guards of his time, his reputation for hitting clutch shots was second to none.
Sam Jones was responsible for much of the scoring duty during his time in Boston and was also a consistent clutch performer in the playoffs. Thanks to his lethal mid-range jumper and ability to shoot off the glass, Jones was able to spread the floor for the Celtics and provide their bigs with more room down low. He was also capable of attacking
in transition and even crashing the glass from the perimeter.
Jones shuffled between point guard, shooting guard and small forward as needed, proving himself to be an invaluable piece in Red Auerbach’s offense. In 12 seasons as a Celtic, Jones averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 45.6 percent overall.
8. Paul Pierce
“The Truth” recently had his No. 34 raised to the rafters at the Garden, and rightfully so. One of the craftiest scorers in league history, Pierce spent 15 seasons with the Celts before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and in that time he saw the franchise go from being a laughingstock to a championship contender. Pierce fell to Boston in the 1998 draft and instantly proved himself as a star player in this league.
Armed with a deadly jump shot and a bevy of moves off the dribble, Pierce is capable of scoring 20-plus any given night even though he lacks elite quickness. The former captain spent 15 years with the Celtics, first pulling them out of the basement with Antoine Walker and later winning a title with KG and Ray Allen.
Pierce holds the Celtics’ record for most three-point field goals made, is third in team history in games played, second in points scored, seventh in total rebounds, fifth in total assists, and first in total steals. Overall, Pierce averaged 21.8 points, six rebounds and 3.9 assists as a Celtic while shooting 44.7 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range. Truly one of the best Bolton Celtics players of all time.
7. Bob Cousy
There is no doubt Bob Cousy is one of the best Boston Celtics players of all time. He ran the fast break to perfection and was able to hit teammates with pinpoint passes to put them in easy scoring position. Thanks to Cousy, the point guard position became just as essential to a team’s success as the center spot. Though he was a shaky shooter, Cousy was able to draw contact and get to the foul line better than most guards of his era. Even then, the poor shooting percentage is more a product of the time period than Cousy’s abilities.
He played back when teams sprinted up the court and took the first available shot, so few players besides big men shot efficiently from the field. For his career, Cousy averaged 18.4 points, 5.2 boards and 7.6 assists despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the floor.
6. Robert Parish
Never a superstar player but always a consistent one, Robert Parish played an incredible 21 seasons in the NBA, 14 of which were with the Celtics, who acquired him from the Golden State Warriors in 1980. A reliable mid-range jump-shooter and a quality defensive big man, Parish was the perfect piece to slot in alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, since he did not need to have plays run for him but could still find a way to impact the game.
In his career, Parish averaged 14.5 points, 9.1 boards and 1.4 assists while shooting 53.7 percent from the field. At his peak with the Celtics, he was a nightly 20-10 threat, but he never forced the issue or played outside of his strengths. Parish was as willing to score from the perimeter as he was to mix it up down low when Boston needed him to. All these earned him a place among the best Boston Celtics players of all time.