Milwaukee Bucks All-Time All-Opponent Teams - Celtics
EDITION 2: BOSTON CELTICS
The Milwaukee Bucks are in their 44th season as a National Basketball Association franchise.
Since the Bucks’ flagship season of 1968-69, they have contended with no less than 67 opposing players who are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, not to mention countless others who earned multiple NBA All-Star Game selections.
In the coming weeks, the Truman Reed Index will present its ranking of the top five opposing players the Bucks have faced from each of the other 29 NBA teams – or their predecessors (ie the Los Angeles Clippers list will also include members of the San Diego Clippers and Buffalo Braves).
A number of the players featured in the TRI rankings played for multiple NBA teams during the course of their careers, but will be listed only once – representing the teams with which they made their most substantial or longest-running impacts against the Bucks.
Bird, who was born in West Baden, Ind., and learned and mastered his skills in the neighboring town of French Link at Springs Valley High School, became known as “The Hick from French Link” when he entered the National Basketball Association years later.
Bird earned a scholarship to Indiana University, but was overwhelmed by the size of the campus and its population and left school less than a month into his freshman year. He returned home and eventually got a job working for the French Link Street Department before enrolling the following year at Indiana State University where, in three seasons, he became the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history. His Sycamores finished 33-1 in Bird’s senior season, losing only to Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team in the NCAA title game.
The 6-foot-9-inch Bird was selected by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft, even though they were uncertain whether he would enter the NBA or remain at Indiana State for his senior season. Bird decided to play his final college season, but the Celtics retained his rights, signed him, and he made an immediate impact.
In Bird’s rookie season, the Celtics went 61-21, winning 32 more games than they did the previous year. Bird was named NBA Rookie of the Year and earned the first of his 12 NBA All-Star Game berths. In the ensuing 12 seasons, Bird was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1984, 1985 and 1986, and led the Celtics to three NBA championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986. Boston’s 1984 champs beat the Bucks 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In 1992, Bird was a member of USA Basketball’s “Dream Team,” which became the first group of professional players to represent the country in the Olympic Games. He team dominated its competition in winning the men's basketball gold medal in Barcelona, Spain.
Following his Olympic experience, on Aug. 18, 1992, Bird retired as an NBA player following the Olympics with 21,791 points and career averages of better than 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists per game. The Celtics retired his jersey No. 33, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. He served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000 and in 2003 assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers. He held that position until 2012. He is the only person in NBA history to be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
Havlicek, a native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, became a three-sport star at nearby Bridgeport High School. He attended The Ohio State University where, playing alongside First-Team All-American Jerry Lucas, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the 1960 NCAA Championship. Robert Montgomery Knight was among the key reserves on OSU’s title team.
The 6-foot-5-inch Havlicek was drafted by both the Celtics and the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns (as a wide receiver) in 1962. He competed briefly in the Browns' training camp that year before opting for a professional basketball career with the Celtics and became one of the team’s cornerstones for the next 16 seasons.
He became the first NBA player to score 1,000 points in 16 consecutive seasons, with his best season coming in 1970-71, when he averaged 28.9 points per game (second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 31.7 mark with the NBA champion Bucks).
Havlicek shares the NBA Finals single-game record for most points scored in an overtime period (9 in a May 10, 1974 game against the Bucks that Milwaukee won 102-101), and he was named NBA Finals MVP after the Celtics beat the Bucks in an epic 4-3 series.
Havlicek was named an NBA All-Star 13 times and helped Boston win eight NBA championships – a total exceeded by only his Celtics teammates, Bill Russell and Sam Jones.
Havlicek retired in 1978 and had his jersey No. 17 retired and raised to the Boston Garden rafters shortly thereafter. He ranks as the Celtics’ all-time leading scorer – and the 12th-highest scorer in NBA history -- with 26,395 points. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984 and was chosen one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 (the league’s 50th anniversary.
McHale, despite his membership in the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is still considered by some the second-most-famous product of Hibbing, Minn., behind a fellow named Bob Dylan. It is safe to guess, though, that McHale has at least 1,000 more post moves than the iconic singer, who got his start in a Hibbing band called The Shadow Blasters.
In McHale’s senior season at Hibbing High School (1976), he was named Minnesota's Mr. Basketball after leading his team to a second-place finish in the AA Minnesota State Tournament. The 6-foot-10-inch, 210-pound forward went on to average 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game over four seasons for the University of Minnesota. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten Conference in 1979 and 1980 and ranks second in Golden Gophers history in career points (1,704) and rebounds (950). When the university celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1995, McHale was chosen the top player in the history of its men's basketball program.
The Boston Celtics, who had dealt the No. 1 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and traded it to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for center Robert Parish and the third selection in the draft, took McHale with that third pick. In the years to follow, McHale, Parish and Bird developed into what many consider the most formidable frontline in NBA history. The trio led the Celtics to five NBA Finals appearances and championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986.
McHale primarily came off the bench during the first five seasons of his pro career, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1984 and 1985. He played in seven NBA All-Star Games and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times.
McHale averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds over 971 regular-season-games. His No. 32 jersey was retired by the Celtics in 1994, and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame five years later. McHale returned to his home state and coached the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005 and from 2008-2009 and is currently in his second season as coach of the Houston Rockets.
Cowens, a native of Newport, Ky., starred at Newport Catholic High School before going on to play collegiately at Florida State University from 1967 to 1970. He averaged 19 points per game during his years with the Seminoles and ranks as their all-time leading rebounder and among their top 10 scorers.
Cowens was selected fourth overall in the 1970 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. An undersized center by NBA standards at 6-feet-9 inches and 230 pounds, he compensated with a relentless tenacity at both ends of the floor and was an instant difference-maker with the Celtics. He averaged 17 points and 15 rebounds in his first pro season and shared the 1971 NBA Rookie of the Year award with Portland’s Geoff Petrie.
Cowens averaged 20.5 ppg and 16.2 rpg while helping the Celtics to a league best 68-14 record in 1972-73 and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and MVP of the All-Star Game that season. He joined Havlicek on the Boston team that defeated Milwaukee 4 games to 3 in the 1974 NBA Finals and also anchored the Celtics’ NBA championship team of 1976.
After retiring in 1980, Cowens was lured back into the NBA by former Celtics teammate Don Nelson, who was coaching the Bucks. Milwaukee acquired Cowens in a trade for Quinn Buckner, and Cowens averaged 8.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in 40 games for Milwaukee in 1982-83 before retiring for keeps.
Cowens averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game over his 11 pro seasons, was selected to seven NBA All-Star Games and was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 1976. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.
He returned to the NBA as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-96, was head coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 1996 to 1999 and served as head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 1999 to 2001. He became an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons in 2006 and became a special assistant to Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars.
Pierce was born in Oakland, Calif., and raised in Inglewood, in the backyard of the Los Angeles Lakers. He starred at Inglewood High School as a junior and senior and participated in the 1995 McDonald's All-American Game alongside future NBA teammate Kevin Garnett and took part in the game's Slam Dunk Contest. On January 31, 2012, Pierce was honored as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All-Americans.
Pierce attended the University of Kansas, where he averaged 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over three seasons. He was named Most Valuable Player of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in 1997 and 1998.
Pierce was chosen by the Boston Celtics with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. He instantly became a starter, was a first-team NBA All-Rookie selection, then proceeded to lead the Celtics into the NBA Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons in 2002. The 6-foot-7-inch forward made his first NBA All-Star Game that season and has since appeared in the game nine times.
He helped lead the Celtics to their 17th NBA championship in 2008 and was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after Boston defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Now in his 15th NBA season, Pierce ranks among the top 30 all-time scorers in league history with over 21,000 points.