Bird, Garnett, McHale, Jones, Johnson Chosen to All-Celtics Team
In conjunction with their 75th anniversary, the Boston Celtics are unveiling their 75th Anniversary All-Celtics Team from Jan. 23 through Feb. 3.
The team is comprised of 15 players who were selected to the team based upon thousands of votes cast by fans and an official voting panel that included both media members and Celtics historians.
The members of the All-Celtics Team will be unveiled in three groups of five, and in no particular order. The first five were announced today, the second five will be announced Jan. 31, and the final five will be announced on a special live broadcast the evening of Feb. 3.
Below, we’ve provided brief capsules of the first five players who were announced as members of the team: Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, Dennis Johnson, Sam Jones and Kevin McHale.
No. 33: Larry Bird
Poll Celtics Nation to find out who the top Celtic of all-time is and you’ll find many votes cast for Larry Bird. Bird, whose No. 33 is retired by the Celtics, earned the nickname “Larry Legend” through his magical play that led to 12 All-Star selections, three league MVPs, three NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards. Bird finished his career with averages of 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game and often mystified opponents with his no-look passes and impossible shots. He is regarded as one of the greatest shooters of all time, having finished with career shooting percentages of 49.6 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from 3-point range and 88.6 percent from the free-throw line. Bird spent his entire career with Boston, and despite a back injury cutting his career short, he still ranks in the top five of every major statistical category in Celtics history.
No. 5: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett didn’t spend a long time in Boston, but his presence in the city will be remembered forever. Hence his selection to this team despite playing only six seasons for the Celtics. Garnett served as a culture-changer and a defensive ace for the 2007-08 championship Celtics, who logged 66 regular-season wins. He was chosen as that season’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-Star team five times during his six seasons with the team. He was a numbers machine for the franchise, as he ranks seventh in team history in defensive rebounds (2,786), eighth in blocks (394), 10th in field-goal percentage (52.0 percent) and second in defensive rebounding percentage (26.2 percent) despite playing in a total of only 396 regular-season games. His energy and passion were infectious, not only fueling his teammates, but also the TD Garden, which he often referred to as “The Jungle.” Decades from now, young Celtics fans should understand that Garnett’s impact was not only from a statistical standpoint. He changed Boston’s culture with his passion, accountability and leadership, and that culture continued on for years after his departure from the franchise. Garnett’s No. 5 is set to be retired by the Celtics on March 13, 2022.
No. 3: Dennis Johnson
Similar to Kevin Garnett, Johnson’s time with the Celtics was not all too lengthy, but his impact was significant. Johnson played seven seasons for Boston and, like Garnett, also earned the right to have his No. 3 retired by the franchise. Johnson is also a Hall of Famer. The defensive-minded point guard averaged 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game during his seven seasons with the C’s and was one of the key reasons why Boston was able to win the NBA championship in 1984 and 1986. Johnson was so impactful that Larry Bird once called him the best player he ever played with. That’s saying a lot, considering that Bird also teamed up with other Hall of Famers in Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Johnson was known for his staunch defense, his floor-general abilities, and for draining clutch shots when games were on the line.
No. 24: Sam Jones
Sam Jones is known as one of most clutch players in the history of the game. Need evidence to support that claim? Just Google the endless comments his former teammates have made about his prowess of coming through in the clutch. Jones was a prolific scorer throughout his 12-year career, all of which was spent in a Celtics uniform. He averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game during his career, including a stretch of four consecutive seasons of averaging at least 21.3 PPG. Jones maxed out with an average of 25.9 PPG during the 1964-65 season, which was one of 10 Celtics championship seasons which Jones participated in, and also, one of his five All-Star seasons. Jones and teammate Bill Russell are the only players in NBA history who have won 10 or more championships. Jones had his No. 24 jersey raised to the rafters on March 9, 1969, two months before capturing his final title with the C’s.
No. 32: Kevin McHale
There are few players of Kevin McHale’s stature who spent their entire career in one uniform. McHale, who played all 13 of his NBA seasons in a Celtics uniform, was a seven-time All-Star, including a stretch of six straight selections from 1986 to 1991. He also won back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year awards in 1984 and 1985. His combination of elite post scoring and impressive defense helped to fuel the Celtics to three championships during the 1980s. His average of 1.7 blocks per game for his career still stands as the top mark among Celtics players who qualify for franchise-leader statistics. He logged five straight seasons with a scoring average of at least 20.9 PPG, maxing out with an average of 26.1 PPG during the championship 1987 season. His No. 32 is retired by the Celtics and hangs in the rafters at TD Garden.