By: Brian Gleason

The Sixth Man has become a well-known piece of any good basketball team. Most championship teams have deep benches with that certain spark that comes off the bench and gives the team a boost when it needs it most. The Celtics are no different, especially this year with the play of Eric Williams off the bench. Williams is averaging nearly 12 points and 5 boards per game and is among the league leaders in free throw attempts per 48 minutes. With Williams excelling in the sixth man role, thought it would be a good time to cover the top 6 Sixth Men in Celtics history.

Frank Ramsey

Red Auerbach is often credited throughout basketball with creating the 6th man and his first was Frank Ramsey. Ramsey felt more comfortable coming off the bench and Auerbach wanted Ramsey in the lineup and to be fresh at the end of close ballgames, so the famous coach decided to have one of the teams best players come off the bench, thus was the inception of the 6th man. Ramsey averaged 13.6 points per game in his nine-year career, all with the Celtics, and won 7 NBA Championships. His best statistical season was in 1957-58 when he averaged 16.5 points and 7.3 boards per game. Ramsey's #23 is retired by the Boston Celtics and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame in 1981.

John Havlicek

If Ramsey was the one of the first 6th men in basketball history, then Havlicek credited with bringing the 6th man to the level it's at now. When Havlicek was drafted in 1962 the Celtics had won four consecutive championships and 5-out-of-6, so there wasn't much room in the starting lineup. At the same time Ramsey's career was coming to a close, so Havlicek picked up where Ramsey left off, coming off the bench averaging close to 20 points a night. Havlicek played 16 seasons with the Celtics, and came off the bench as the sixth man for 4-5 years. In his career he averaged 20.8 points and won 8 NBA Titles. Havlicek has his number 17 retired by the C's, is a member of the Basketball Hall Of Fame and was voted as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1997.

Paul Silas

As the Bill Russell era came to a close the Celtics slowly became John Havlicek's team, so came the need for another 6th Man to be the spark and do the dirty work. In came Paul Silas, who came off the bench for the better part of four seasons for the Celtics. In those four seasons Silas averaged 11.5 points and 12.3 boards per game as the Celtics won titles in 1974 and 1976.

Kevin McHale

Kevin McHaleMcHale won two 6th Man of the Year Awards.
Tim Defrisco/NBAE/Getty Images
After a few down years in the late 70's the Celtics once again became the cream of the NBA crop in the early 80's, and yes, much of the resurrection was due to Larry Bird, but another thing that helped the Celtics return to glory was another successful run of impressive 6th Men. When McHale came to the Celtics as a rookie in 1980 Cedric Maxwell was entrenched as the teams power forward, so McHale spent the first four seasons of his illustrious 13 year career coming off the bench. In those four years McHale averaged 14.0 points and 6.3 boards per game as well as winning the NBA's 6th Man Of The Year Award in 1984 and '85. The award was originated in the 1982-83 season. In his career McHale averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 boards, won three Titles (81,84 & 86), had his #32 retired by the Celtics, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.

Bill Walton

Bill WaltonWalton took over for McHale and won the 1986 6th Man of the Year Award.
Rick Stewart/NBAE/Getty Images
When the Celtics traded Cedric Maxwell to the Clippers, in exchange for Walton, the offseason prior to the 1985-86 season, it was clear Kevin McHale was going to become the next starting power forward, so that left some room for Walton to be the 6th Man. Though Walton played just over a season for the Celtics, he had quite an impact in 1986, and will always be remembered as a Celtic great. In '86 Walton averaged 7.6 points and 6.8 boards, but what he gave the Celtics could not be measured in stats, as he helped lead the C's to the 1986 NBA Championship. Walton, who is a Hall of Famer, one of the 50 Greatest Players, a former league MVP and the main cog in the Blazers 1977 Title team, made huge sacrifices playing on injured feet and showed the Celtics true leadership that season, as he won the 1986 6th Man Of The Year Award.

Eric Williams

Though Williams has a long way to go to reach some of the accomplishments of the above group, he is having a similar impact on the 2003-04 Celtics. Williams is third on the team in scoring and is counted on as one of the Celtics go-to-guys in close ballgames. If the Celtics can build around the current roster and return to a championship level, it could be in large part to the role Williams plays coming off the bench. If Williams keeps up his current production and the Celtics continue to improve, he should have a legitimate chance of winning the Celtics fourth 6th Man Of The Year Award.