I'm still amazed that there are numbers that have never been worn in Boston because so many have been retired and it would seem that the rest of the numbers would be getting a real work out. Some of the numbers have been very popular. #20 has been worn the most, with 25 players choosing that number. Coming in right after #20 is #12 that has been worn by 24 players. #11 is next with 23 players, #5 with 21 players and #4 has been worn by 20 different players. Players used to come to the Celtics and spend their whole careers there and so it seemed like the natural thing to retire their numbers after all their years with the team. That doesn't happen too much these days, but Paul Pierce is cementing his legacy along with the Celtics of old by spending his entire career in Boston. I expect his #34 will one day hang from the rafters along with all of the Celtic greats of the past. Here is part 2 of our look at the players whose numbers have been retired in Boston.
Number 16 was retired in January of 1973 for Tom "Satch" Sanders. Satch grew up in Harlem and played basketball for Seward Park High School and New York University before going on to play in the NBA. He played all of his 13 years with the Celtics and was part of eight championship teams from 1961 through 1969. He retired in 1973 and went on to coach the Celtics for a brief time in 1978 and 1979. Today, 'Satch' is the NBA's Vice-President and Director of Player Programs. Based in New York City, his birthplace, 'Satch' designs programs to help both veteran and rookie players take advantage of their unique status as professional athletes and to assist them in coping with the special pressures they face. Player Programs is responsible for facilitating the following: post-career counseling; educational and employment opportunities; the NBA/PA (Players Association) Anti-Drug and Alcohol Programs; advice on dealing with celebrity status and media attention and a nonprofit foundation that benefits former players
Number 17 was retired on October 13, 1978 in honor of the legendary John "Hondo" Havlicek. Even though Havlicek is considered one of the best players in NBA history, he was mostly overlooked as a college player because he was on the same team as Jerry Lucas at Ohio State University. That team, which also had future coaching legend Bobby Knight as a reserve, won the 1960 NCAA title. Havlicek was drafted by both the Celtics and the NFL's Cleveland Browns in 1962. After competing briefly as a wide receiver in the Browns' training camp that year, he focused his energies on playing for the Celtics, with head coach Red Auerbach later describing him as the "guts of the team". He was also known for his stamina. Competitors often remarked that it was a challenge for them just to keep up with him. He was a perpetual-motion machine, a human dynamo who was legendary for wearing out opponents with his relentless baseline-to-baseline efforts. A star at both forward and guard, Havlicek's versatility made him perhaps the finest all-around player in the history of the NBA, according to Sports Illustrated. Hondo revolutionized the sixth man role and became the prototype Celtics' sixth man. Johnny Most's legendary call, "Havlicek stole the ball," remains a classic description of a memorable moment in NBA history. Havlicek owns three Wendy’s restaurants and a piece of a food company in Ohio. He also handles public relations for a company in Leominster and listens to any freelancing opportunities that come up. Dave Thomas, owner of Wendy's, is a friend of Hondo's and his daughter Wendy, for whom the recipe is named, used to baby sit for him.
Number 18 was retired on February 8, 1981 for Dave Cowens. Cowens' playing style was all-out intensity at both ends of the court, a style that never wavered during his 11-year NBA career. Cowens played aggressively, often recklessly, and with great passion. He always gave fans their money's worth. At 6'9 he was considered by some to be too short to play center, but he played 11 years in the league, 10 with Boston and 1 in Milwaukee, and he averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game over his career. For a time during the early part of the 1977 season, Cowens left the team and started driving a cab. He went AWOL from the Celtics for a short time just "to clear his head." He later explained that he was "suffering from burnout." He began his coaching career by serving as a combined player/coach for the Boston Celtics during the 1978-79 season, but he quit as coach after the season, and returned as a full-time player before retiring in 1980. However, he was coaxed out of retirement by the Milwaukee Bucks, and played for them during the 1982-83 season before retiring for good. He returned to the NBA coaching ranks by serving as an Assistant Coach for the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-96, and became Head Coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 1996-99 and had a brief tenure as head coach with the Golden State Warriors from 1999-2001 which only lasted 105 games. He was the head coach of the WNBA Chicago Sky for the 2005-06 season. He left the Sky to return to the NBA as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons.
Number 19 was retired for Don Nelson who personifies the hard-working, blue-collar roots of the Midwest where he was raised. Whether he was playing on the hardwood or coaching from its sidelines, Nelson, or "Nellie" as he is often referred to, has carved himself a place in NBA history as one of league's toughest competitors. Nellie played for the Chicago Zephyrs (which later moved to Baltimore and became the Bullets) and the Lakers before coming to the Celtics. He played 11 years with the Celtics and won 5 Championships with them. After he retired he has coached for 29 years with Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas, and even a brief stint with New York. He stepped down from his coaching position in Dallas due to health issues as he was facing a bout with prostate cancer. Now healthy, and at 70 years of age, Nellie is back on the sidelines coaching the Golden State Warriors.
Number 21 was retired on October 15, 1966 for Bill Sharman who played ten seasons with the Celtics, from 1951 through 1961, and helped lead the Celtics to four NBA championships. Arguably the greatest shooter of his era, Bill Sharman was one of the first NBA guards to push his field-goal percentage above .400 for a season (.436 in 1952-53), and he still ranks among the top free-throw shooters of all time with an .883 lifetime percentage. After retiring as a player in 1961 Sharman distinguished himself as an inspiring and innovative coach, the only one to win championships in three professional leagues - the American Basketball League in 1962, the American Basketball Association in 1971 and the NBA in 1972. He guided the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers to the best regular-season record (69-13) in NBA history until the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls finished 72-10. He introduced an innovative training device on game days called the "shootaround," in which players went through a light morning practice session prior to the day's contest. He felt that getting his team's mind on the game early, going over strategy, and loosening the muscles, were excellent ways to prepare mentally and physically for a game. Today most (if not all) NBA and college teams use shootarounds as a regular part of their training regimens. Sharmen was GM and club president of the Lakers and later remained with the team as a special consultant. He was only 1 of 3 people (the others being John Wooden and Lenny Wilkins) who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame as both player and coach.
Number 22 was retired on October 16, 1963 for "Easy Ed" Macauley who was a member of the Celtics for six seasons from 1950 through 1956. He had his Celtics No. 22 retired at the same time as Bob Cousy's No. 14. They were the first two players to have their numbers retired by Boston. Easy Ed” retired as the NBA's third all-time leading scorer trailing only George Mikan and Dolph Shayes at the time. MacAuley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1960 at the age of 32 and to this day he is still the youngest player ever enshrined. There is a story behind Easy Ed that is worth recounting here. In 1956, Ed's son Patrick became ill. They took him to a Boston doctor, who after some time diagnosed Patrick with spinal meningitis. Ed and his wife had to take Patrick back and forth to St. Louis for treatment, which was a tremendous drain on them, both physically and financially. Ed was close to the Celtics' owner, Walter Brown, and requested a trade to the St. Louis Hawks, to make getting treatment for Patrick easier for them. Although Brown didn't want to trade him, he understood the personal difficulties and agreed to seek a trade. McCauley and Cliff Hagan were traded to St. Louis for the second pick in the draft that would become Bill Russell. Ed went on to star for St. Louis and sadly Patrick died a few years later. But had Ed not requested the trade, the history of the Celtics, and thus the league, would probably have been much different. These days, “Easy Ed”, who is 82, resides in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Jacqueline. The two of them have been married 56 years. MacAuley is retired and previously he was a Sports Director for two television stations in St. Louis. MacAuley is currently very involved with his church serving as a Deacon and has written a book entitled “Homilies Lives” with Father Francis Fredle.
Number 23 was retired for Frank Ramsey who played nine seasons in the NBA, all with the Celtics. He was the Celtics original sixth man. Red Auerbach, is often credited throughout basketball with creating the sixth man role. Though Ramsey was one of the Celtics' best players, he felt more comfortable coming off the bench and Auerbach wanted him fresh and in the lineup at the end of close games. Ramsey was the first in a series of sixth men who won championship rings with the Celtics. After playing his rookie season with the Celtics (1954-1955), Ramsey spent one year in the military before rejoining the team. In the eight seasons he played after military service, he was a member of seven championship teams. Ramsey was also a head coach for one season (1970-71) in the ABA with the Kentucky Colonels, On November 15th, 2005, Ramsey's house was destroyed in a tornado that hit his residence in Madisonville, Kentucky. One of his plaques was found miles away from his home, and Ramsey himself was unhurt.