Boston Celtics All-Decade Teams: The 1980s

Guest post by The Sports Hayes  

The 1980's

The 80's were the golden age of basketball when they got it right for about 8 or 9 years combining individual success with team play. Larry Bird had Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, Magic Johnson had James Worthy and Kareem, Dr. J had Moses Malone and Mo Cheeks and so on. With that said, the Celtics parlayed the team concept to 3 world titles (should have been a 4th in 82) and cemented their status as the greatest franchise in the NBA. As for the Celtics, this may be the easiest decade team of them all.

Coach - KC Jones

You had 3 to work with: Bill Fitch, KC and Jimmy Rodgers. Rodgers wasn't a good fit and the team soured

on Fitch, but KC was able to get the most out of his guys and they loved him. He was an assistant on the 1981 championship team and the head coach for 84 and 86. His overuse of the starters cost him 1985 and a rash of injuries and death that wasn't his fault cost him 1987. Still, with all his faults he was the perfect guy to coach the 80's Celtics as they entered their primes or were just at their peak.

1st Team

Center - Robert Parish

No brainer here. The Chief was a productive double figures scorer and rebounder for 14 years in a Boston uniform. He was able to battle the giants such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Akeem Olajuwon, Darryl Dawkins, Tree Rollins, Bill Laimbeer and Jack Sikma. With Chief at center, the Celtics took home 3 world titles and was a Tiny Archibald injury away in 82 from a 4th. He never played less than 74 games a year for 14 years which is unheard of today. He was a 9 time all-star and his number 00 is retired in his honor and he's enshrined in the hall of fame.

Forward - Kevin McHale

Another no-brainer. While he was devastating in the 6th man role, for a brief period of the second half of 86 and all of 87, he very well may have been the best in the game period. He was one of the very best to ever play in the low-post and until he hurt his foot in 87, he was virtually unstoppable. He was 6th man on the 81 and 84 championships and the starter in 86. He played the ENTIRE 1987 playoffs on a fractured foot. Forget Lebron James having stomach cramps, Willis Reed's 5 minutes in 1970 or Michael Jordan's stomach flu game. He played all 7 games against the Pistons, 6 against the Lakers and 6 against the Bucks on a FRACTURED foot. Imagine if the team sacrificed 87 to get him healthy for 88, he may have lasted a lot longer and maybe have been more productive. He was a 7 time all-star and his number 32 is retired in his honor and he is enshrined in the hall of fame.

Forward - Larry Bird

The icon of the Celtics in the 1980's. I could hullaballoo him all day but here's the facts that are most important. 3 straight NBA MVP's, 12 time all-star, 2 NBA Finals MVP's, 3 time Long Distance Shootout winner, 3 time NBA Champion, one of the greatest clutch shooters of all time, the greatest trash talker ever and only guy to score 60 points and have the OTHER team cheering him on. Some consider him the best ever and its easy to see why. His number 33 is retired in his honor and he's enshrined in the hall of fame.

Guard - Danny Ainge

This was the only toss-up as he and Gerald Henderson both had productive careers, but I give the nod to Danny because he had the better college career and the better post-Celtics career. He was an all-star in 1988 and was apart of the 84 and 86 championship teams. His 3 pointer helped bury the Pistons in Game 7 in 87. Also played pro-baseball which shows what a great athlete he was in general.

Guard - Dennis JohnsonAnother no-brainer. He was one of the best defensive guards of the 70's and 80's and was a good scorer too. He was a 4 time all-star with Seattle and Phoenix and once in Boston as well. He was also the 1979 Finals MVP with the Seattle Sonics. In Boston he won 2 NBA titles and his shut-down defense on Magic Johnson won them the 84 Finals. His number 3 is retired in his honor and he's enshrined in the hall of fame.


Center - Bill Walton

Artis Gilmore had a long, productive career...better than Walton's that's for sure, but he was all washed up when he came to Boston. The hall of famer Walton at least had something left when he was traded for in the summer of 85. He was one of the best college centers at UCLA and won a championship in Portland in 1977. Injuries derailed his career but in 86 he blocked out the pain to win 6th Man of the Year and help the Celtics win the championship. With other candidates include Greg Kite, Brad Lohaus and Gilmore, gotta go with Walton. He's enshrined in the hall of fame.

Forward - Cedric Maxwell

Maxwell was an underrated forward for the 70's and 80's Celtics that never got his due credit. From 1978-85 he was a good scorer and rebounder, especially in big games. He was the 1981 Finals MVP and he told the boys to jump on his back and he did indeed carry the 84 Celtics to the championship in Game 7 against the Lakers. He got hurt in 1985 and for some ungodly reason Red Auerbach took it personal, promptly trading him for Bill Walton. He had a good year for the Clippers in 86 but injuries derailed him after that. While he was never an all-star, his number 31 is retired in his honor.

Forward - Scott Wedman

The hits just keep 
on coming. Wedman was a 2 time all-star for the Kansas City Kings (now in Sacremento) before coming over in a trade from Cleveland. He was 7th man on the Celtics from 83-87 that could play both forward positions and he's remembered for his perfect shooting in Game 1 of the 85 Finals. Ironically, he got hurt in both Finals that the Celtics won with him on the team. He was lost for the Finals in game 4 in 84 and knocked out of Game 3 of the Eastern Finals against the Bucks in 86. He also was hurt in 87 which cost the Celtics the championship. With hall of fame talent around, Scott sure held his own on the green team.

Guard - Gerald Henderson

One of the greatest scrap heap pickups. After being signed out of the CBA, he enjoyed a 5 year run as a

guard on the Celtics which culminated as being the starting shooter in 84. His series saving steal in Game 2 of the 84 Finals will always be remembered. He was the one traded for the draft rights to Len Bias which turned out to kill the franchise. While he was never an all-star, he was an integral part of the 81 and 84 championships.

Guard - Tiny Archibald

One of the greatest little men to ever play the game. He was NBA MVP in 1973 while leading the league in scoring and assists. A devastating knee injury robbed him of his hall of fame effectiveness, but he was still damn good when he came over in a trade in 1979. For 5 years Tiny handled the starting guard duties (Quinn Buckner in 83 not withstanding) and helped win the championship in 1981. His injury in the 82 Eastern Finals cost the Celtics the championship, otherwise the Celtics would have repeated. If the Celtics had got him pre-injury, he would be starting over DJ, but as busted as he was, he was still damn good. He's enshrined in the hall of fame.

Extra - ML Carr

Can't have the 80's Celtics without the greatest cheerleader they had,  That aside, Carr was a good defensive guard in the 70's and 80's and was a big contributor to the 81 and 84 championships. He's most known for his towel waving on the bench but he wasn't incompetent when he got in the game.

12th man - Quinn Buckner
There were a lot of candidates here but Buckner wins for one important stat. He's one of only 3 guys (Magic Johnson included) that have won a state high school championship, NCAA college championship, Olympic gold medal and an NBA championship. He may not have been the best guard but he always found a way to make the right play at the right time. He's had success at every level he played at so that counts for something.

Honorable mention - Chris Ford, Jeff Judkins, Pete Maravich, Carlos Clark, Ray Williams, Darren Daye, Mark Acres and Kelvin Upshaw

That about wraps up the 80's All-Decade team. The easiest of the bunch in my opinion. Now comes the hardest, the 90's. The darkest era in team history.

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