Tom "Satch" Sanders - #16 - Boston Celtics
Forward | 6'6" | 210 lbs. | Born: November 8, 1938
- Played all 13 seasons with Celtics
- Eight-time NBA champion
- No. 16 retired by Celtics
- 2011 Inductee of the Basketball Hall of Fame
Drafted eighth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1960 NBA Draft.
Tom Sanders - Biography
There aren’t many native New Yorkers who become sports heroes in the city of Boston. Celtics Legend Tom “Satch” Sanders is a member of that exclusive group.
Sanders was born on Nov. 8, 1938 in New York City and went on to attend New York University in his hometown. His legendary basketball career began to blossom as he excelled with the NYU Violets from 1957-60.
NYU experienced incredible success while Sanders was on the roster. In fact, the basketball team made one of its two trips to the Final Four in 1959-60. Sanders captained that team, which went 22-5 and wound up falling to Ohio State in the Final Four.
In addition to NYU’s success as a team with Sanders on board, the lanky collegiate center put together a stellar individual career. His name can still be seen on nearly every page of the team’s record book. As of 2013, he ranks as the following in school history: second in career rebounds with 923 boards; third in career rebounding average with 13.0 rebounds per game; eighth in career scoring average with 16.8 points per game; and ninth in field goal percentage with a conversion rate of 51.6 percent.
With all of those numbers in tow, Sanders was a hot commodity heading into the 1960 NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics were fortunate enough to have him fall into their laps with the eighth overall pick.
Sanders went on to play all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics as a forward. He retired following the 1972-73 season with modest career statistics of 9.6 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, but those numbers are not an indication of his impact or level of success. The only number that matters in regard to Sanders’ career is eight, which is the number of championships he helped bring to Boston.
Sanders walked into a developing Celtics dynasty and he became a key piece of the franchise’s ongoing success. The team had won the league’s two previous championships before it drafted Sanders and then went on to win the next six with him on board.
Playing alongside stars like Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Bob Cousy, Sanders wasn’t leaned on to provide starry numbers. Instead, he was given a role to rebound and play shutdown defense.
Sanders accepted his rugged role with grace and dominance. He was the man that Red Auerbach would use to slow down stars such as Willis Reed, Elgin Baylor and Jerry Lucas. Without his defense and strong rebounding, Boston’s dynasty may not have been quite as prominent.
There are only two players in NBA history, Russell and Jones – both of whom happened to be his teammates – who have more championship rings than Sanders’ eight. As is well documented with the Celtics, success is judged by titles, and that’s why the team retired Sanders’ No. 16 jersey on Jan. 19, 1973. Additionally, the basketball world honored Sanders by electing him into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2011.
Sanders went on to dabble in coaching, both with the Celtics and at the collegiate level, and has had a successful career as Director of Player Programs with the NBA. However, he will always be known for his success on the court with Boston.
That’s a rarity for a native New Yorker, but it’s well deserved for such a title-filled career.
TOM "SATCH" SANDERS
Height: 6'6" Weight: 210 LBS Birth: 11/08/38 College: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY '60
First round draft choice (the 8th pick overall) in 1960... retired in 1973.