The Boston Celtics are the most legendary of NBA franchises. The Celtics have won a total of 17 NBA championships, the most by any team in NBA history. What makes this even more special is the fact that 8 of these titles were won consecutively from 1959 to 1966. The Celtics 60’s dynasty won a total of 11 NBA titles during a 13-year period from 1957-1969, making them the most dominant team in the history of professional team sports in North America.

Those championships wouldn’t have been possible without the great players who have donned the Celtics’ fabled green jersey. From Bill Russell in the 1950s to Larry Bird in the ’80s and Paul Pierce in 2000s, we’ve seen legends come and go in Boston. Let’s take a look at the best of the best then- the Top 10 Boston Celtics players of all-time:

Basketball 10. Jojo White

Jojo White was the Boston Celtics’ 9th overall pick in the 1969 NBA draft after a standout collegiate career at Kansas. The 6-3 guard helped Boston win two NBA titles and was NBA Finals MVP in 1976. White was a versatile point guard who could both score and pass while also being an excellent perimeter defender. In nine seasons at Boston, White played in less than 75 games in a season just once. He scored 33 points and dished off 9 dimes in Boston’s epic Game 5 triple-overtime win over the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals. White would make the All-NBA 2nd team twice and be also named an NBA All-Star seven times during his career.

Basketball 9. Sam Jones

In 12 seasons as a Celtic, Sam Jones averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while playing second fiddle to Bill Russell. Jones was the perfect Robin to Russell’s Batman because while Russell was a force on defense, Jones’ ability to hit the midrange shot enabled Boston to spread the floor for Russell and the other bigs to operate down low. Jones also had the ability to attack while in transition and he was also a clutch performer for Red Auerbach, especially during the playoffs. Although he didn’t change the game as Russell did, he was part of 10 Boston champion teams, a five-time NBA All-Star and a three-time member of the All-NBA second team.

Basketball 8. Robert Parish

All hail the Chief! Robert Parish one-third of Boston’s Big Three during the ’80s. Together with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, they would form one of the greatest frontcourts the league has ever seen and the most dominant frontline during the ’80s. Parish was never a star but he was very consistent. He played in a total of 21 NBA seasons, including 14 for the Celtics who traded for him in 1980. Chief was a legit 20-10 threat during his peak in Boston but he never played beyond his skill set but never backed down from any challenge, Bill Laimbeer included. Parish helped Boston win four NBA titles during the ’80s. He was a nine-time NBA All-Star and a one-time member of the All-NBA second team.

Basketball 7. Paul Pierce

Everybody loves to hate Paul Pierce except the Boston faithful. The Truth, as he was known, was the main architect in Boston’s 17th NBA title. After the Larry Bird era, Boston had fallen to mediocrity but Pierce’s arrival gave the Celtics back their prestige. He was one of the best shooters of his time and one of the craftiest scorers in his generation. The Truth combined with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to help Boston win the NBA title in 2008. Pierce was an NBA All-Star 10 times, an All-NBA 2nd team member once and All-NBA 3rd team member three times. He was Boston’s 10th overall pick in 1998 and spent his first 15 seasons with Boston before he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2015.

Basketball 6. Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale was Boston’s second superstar in the 1980s. Although he played second fiddle to Larry Bird, McHale was a star in his own right. The seven-time All-Star was also a two-time Sixth Man of the Year winner and he contributed to KC Jones’ team regardless of whether he started or he came off the bench. McHale was known for his long arms and broad shoulders. He had one of the best low post games in the history of basketball, if not the best ever. When McHale got you on the post, it was like being in the “torture chamber”. There was no way any defender would stop him from scoring with his long, lanky frame, soft hands and terrific footwork. But McHale wasn’t just an offensive machine but a defensive gem as well. McHale averaged 2.86 blocks per game during the 1985-86 season.

Basketball 5. Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy was known as the Houdini of the Hardwood because of what he could do with the basketball in his hands. To make a long story short, Bob Cousy was a Steve Nash long before Steve Nash arrived in the league. He ran the fastbreak to perfection and he had that uncanny ability to make pinpoint passes. Not only did he hit his teammates with the perfect pass, he always gave them the ball in a spot where they had the best chance of scoring. Cousy won six NBA titles and was the 1957 NBA MVP. He wasn’t the best of shooters but he was still an excellent scorer. The Bill Russell-Bob Cousy combination was one of the most feared in the league during their era.

Basketball 4. Dave Cowens

Dave Cowens was another Boston Celtics player who wasn’t the best player of his era but was one of the greatest competitors the NBA has ever seen. What Cowens lacked in skill, he made up for in his energy, will to win and determination. His competitive fire on the basketball court was something to marvel and he is the epitome of the player who left in all out in the court because he literally did that for the Celtics. At 6-9, Cowens was undersized for a big man but that did not prevent him from becoming a force inside the paint. But yeah, when everything wasn’t going right and he was struggling on the court, he was more than willing to give up a hard foul to prevent an easy basket. The tough as nails Cowens was NBA MVP in 1973 and he led the Celtics to the title in 1973 and 1976. He was an 8-time NBA All-Star and a member of the All-NBA 2nd team three times. But more importantly, no one will forget how hard he played in every single game.

Basketball 3. John Havlicek

Hondo is one of the greatest and most durable Celtics players of all-time. He played 16 NBA seasons and missed more than seven games in just one of those. He also played through a separated shoulder during the 1973 playoffs. Havlicek’s toughness may have come from his football background because he was a two-sport athlete, having been drafted by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. He started his career as the sixth man for the men in green but when Russell and Jones retired, he took over and was as great as his predecessors. Not only was Havlicek a knockdown shooter, but he was also a lockdown defender as well. He and Dave Cowens would form a formidable tandem in Boston. Hondo was a 13-time all-star who won a total of 8 NBA titles during his career.

Basketball 2. Larry Bird

Larry Legend. The Hick from French Lick. Larry Bird’s arrival in Boston restored the Celtics to dominance. His rivalry with Magic Johnson and Magic’s Lakers defined the NBA during the 1980s. Magic vs Bird is the greatest rivalry in sports. The Celtics vs. Lakers are the greatest rivalries in the NBA. Bird was one of the greatest shooters of his generation. He was a power forward with a shooting touch of a guard. He was also a brilliant passer and had one of the best IQs the game has ever seen. He wasn’t the most athletic but he was the most creative player during his time. And yes, he was one of the greatest big shot players in the game’s history. Bird led Boston to three NBA titles. He was Finals MVP twice, NBA MVP three times and a member of the All-NBA First team 9 times. He would have been the greatest Celtic of all-time, if not for the man next on this list.

Basketball 1. Bill Russell

When people talk about the greatest of all-time, a lot would say it’s Michael Jordan. Some would say, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Still, others would insist on Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James. But when you take a look at NBA resumes, none of the players I mentioned earlier would beat Bill Russell’s resume. Russell won a record 11 NBA titles for the Celtics, including 8 in a row during the 60’s decade. Russell was a defensive force but he was also MVP five times in the NBA. Though his 6-9 frame would be unimpressive in this day, he was the most dominant big man of his generation. Russell was a force like no other and he changed the game with his brute force and physicality around the basket. He averaged 15.1 points and 22.2 rebounds for his career. What’s unfortunate is that blocks were not recorded during his era. When you talk about the most dominant defensive players of all-time, don’t forget about Bill Russell. When you talk about the greatest to ever play the game, Bill Russell should be on top of that list. Imagine a guy with 11 rings for only 10 hand fingers.

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