Today in Celtics history: Smart, Finley, Shaq born

Today, March 6th is the 45th anniversary of the birth of former Boston Celtics center Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal's birth.

Shaq, a first-ballot Hall of Fame big man, finished his career with the club after stints with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat. Phoenix Suns, and Cleveland Cavaliers. At this stage of his career, it was clear O'Neal was chasing rings, and Boston was hoping to add some veteran frontcourt depth to match up with Shaq's former Lakers and other teams in the way of Banner 18, but an ill-advised trade sending Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder while O'Neal himself was plagued with leg injuries doomed his short tenure with the Celts. Shaq would retire at the end of the season, ending a 19-year career in green, but with no more rings.

Today is also the 43rd birthday of former Celtic wing Michael Finley, who was actually signed by the Celtics on his birthday the same year (2010) Shaq joined the Celts after being waived by the San Antonio Spurs. Like Shaq, it was the last outing for Finley, though Michael managed to miss the "ring-chasing" criticism that followed Shaq, likely due to the fact he had been waived prior to joining the squad. Finley now works in the Dallas Mavericks' front office, where he has made a name for himself as an executive.

Finally, it's also the birthday of current Celtic Marcus Smart, who turns a mere 23 years old. Marcus, who plays like a wily vet while being young enough to have not existed when Shaq first suited up in the league, has at times made it easy to forget how young he is - except, of course, when he launches those above-the-break three-pointers with an open man in the corner and 17 seconds left on the shot clock. We love him anyway, and know it's just one of several small bad habits he'll grow out of in time.

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Photo via Noah Graham/NBAE
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