"Celtics" That Never Wore Green

Some of the recent arguments between The Greens’ fans about Kevin Garnett and his place in Celtics’ lore (rafters, all-time Celtics, remembered as Celtic or Timberwolf) got me thinking again about what it means to be a Celtics’ player. Even during his long and distinguished career in Minnesota, I always felt Garnett was a Celtics-type player. For six decades, with the exception of some sad departures (John Y. Brown, the later half of the 90’s, the Plague of Pitino), the Celtics have exemplified a brand of basketball that featured teamwork, unselfishness, ball movement, cohesive and constant defense, suborning the id for the betterment of the team. This was "Red" ball long before Doc reinvented it with Ubuntu, the Celtic Way 2.0. For me Garnett was a Celtic that just took a long time to get to Boston (like Bill Walton before him).

Each generation has produced a “Celtic” or three that never wore the Green. In the modern era I would posit that Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, and Tayshaun Prince would all have blended well into the Celtics’ mix although it is unlikely any will ever suit up for Boston. Among the retirees in the past decade or two, the list might include
Chris Mullin, Vlade Divac, David Robinson, Avery Johnson, John Stockton, and Karl Malone. Further back in time (and fading memory) I might pick Wes Unseld, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas, and Bill Bradley. The Celtics Way always thrived with players that had “game” mentally every bit as much as physically, maybe moreso. For me that will always be the ultimate kind of compliment, “He was a Celtics’ kind of player.”

On the other hand there have been numerous players who I thought were anything but Celtics-type players, who came to the Green and discovered/uncovered a whole new facet of their career. Dennis Johnson and Charlie Scott come immediately to mind. More often however, were the big names that arrived to wear the Green but never changed their spots. Of these determined misfits, Bob McAdoo, Xavier McDaniel, and Dominique Wilkins spring to mind. Most examples of the latter were in Boston during down years and there is no doubt something of a chicken/egg argument to be made about their coinciding.

You might have additions of your own as I suspect that there are others out there who watch the games and occasionally think “that guy would make a great Celtic!”