March Madness is in full swing, so it got me thinking; if there was an NCAA tournament with just Celtics player, what would that bracket look like? Making a list of 64 players that dawned the Celtics uniform could be a bit much so 16 seems appropriate. Although it was fun thinking who would be the 16-seed for the greatest franchise in sports. (I'm looking at you Jeroime Moiso and Acie Earl).
As with any Celtics greats argument, this is up for debate. But here you go:
Get off My Lawn Bracket
(1) Bill Russell vs (4) Satch Sanders
A combined 19 Championships between the two make for a great match-up. We all know Russell is the Goat, but he did most of his dirty work with Sanders as his Robin.
(2) Bob Cousy vs (3) Tommy Heinsohn
The battle between the two elder Legends that helped put the Celtics on the map. Heinsohn may be known to the young generation for his antics doing the color commentating for the games, but you can't overlook one of the greatest Game 7's in NBA history: 37 points and 23 rebounds as a rookie to secure the C's first championship in 1957.
Before Cousy was falling asleep in the mid 90's during Celtics broadcast he revolutionized the point guard position. Without the Cooz landing into the Celts lap in the draft, who knows what road the franchise would have taken.
Overlooked and Underrated Bracket
(1) Kevin McHale vs (4) Danny Ainge
It's hard to say that one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history is overlooked but when it comes to McHale he may not always get his proper due. A mention of the greats power forwards of all-time and the names Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley roll off the tongue instantly. People tend to forget McHale's 26.1 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per during the '86-'87 season, after he helped the greatest team off all-time win it all in 1986. Never mind the fact that he has by far the best footwork the league has ever seen.
Ainge is known for his excellent management of the current group of Celtics as well as his acquisation of Kevin Garnett to bring Banner 17 but as a guard Ainge was the scrappy backbone of that '86 C's team.
(2) Sam Jones vs (3) Jo Jo White
Jones averaged 27.1 points per game in Game 7's. His teams were 9-0. No big deal.
White, who was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame was an intrical part in the two Celtics championships in the mid-70's. Averaging 22.7 points and 5.4 assists per game in the 1976 Finals against the Suns, White kept the ship sailing in one of the most famous games in NBA history. In Game 5 of that series White scored 33 points and dished nine assists, while logging 60 minutes on the court.
Possibly Still Running Early Morning Pickup at the Practice Facility Bracket
(1) John Havlicek vs (4) Cedric Maxwell
Hondo would go down as the best player in Celtics history if Russell didn't exist. He was THE bridge between the 60's Celtics and the 70's championship teams.
Maxwell, besides being an unorthodox guy on the radio, was the 1981 Finals MVP when he famously told his team to climb on his back. Too bad he and Larry Bird didn't get along because if Max was a Celtic lifer his game would have gotten more respect around these parts. QUACK!!! QUACK!!!.
(2) Dave Cowens vs (3) Robert Parish
Cowens was another steal by architect Red Auerbach when the tall red-head was a collegiate player at Florida State. Cowens' game would make him a favorite in any era of the NBA. He was that enforcer and tough guy every team needs, and all the fans love. Can you imagine having him on the floor with someone like Marcus Smart? The opponent would want to strangle someone.
Parish, who still works in some capacity in the Celts organization, is often lumped in as the third man in the first Big 3 Era. But you can't sleep on the fact that in 14 seasons in Boston "The Chief" averaged a double-double (16.6 points, 10.0 rebounds)
Partners in Crime Bracket
(1) Larry Bird vs (4) Dennis Johnson
There is no doubt that Bird helped save the NBA, but he also saved the Celtics organization. The year before Bird and his mullet arrived into town, the team won only 29 games. In his rookie year they won 61. You can only imagine how good his stats would have been if he didn't have chronic back issues towards the end of his career.
DJ was a Finals MVP before his time in Boston, but as Bird admitted DJ was the Legends favorite teammate. From '84'-'87, the late Celtics point guard made the 1st or 2nd team NBA-All Defense every season.
(2) Paul Pierce vs (3) Kevin Garnett
For people, born in the early 80's, Pierce is the greatest Celtic of their lifetime. The fact that he never forced his way out of town, while putting up monster numbers on mostly crap teams, was a testament to his loyalty to the organization. That being said one person saved Pierce from demanding a trade...
Garnett, like Bird, may have saved a generation of Celtics fans. Without KG their is no Banner 17. His number will someday be next to Pierce's in the rafters. The two will forever be connected for that magical 2008 championship.
Photo Credit: Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images
Follow Rob Welch on Twitter @CelticWelch Rob Welch 3/19/2016 08:03:00 AM Tweet Edit