Today in Celtics history: Hankinson, (Earl) Tatum, West born

Today, July 26th is the 66th anniversary of former Boston Celtic forward Phil Hankinson.

Hankinson, who left us much too soon in 1996, played for Boston for his entire short NBA career - just two seasons between 1973-74 and 1974-75. He was drafted by the club 35th overall in the 1973 NBA Draft after playing college ball with Pennsylvania, and averaged 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game over his two seasons with the Celts, winning a ring with the team in 1974. While he may have only contributed six points and a rebound to that banner, it's more than many a more illustrious name has come away from the league with.

It is also a certain Tatum's birthday - though not the one on this year's roster. Earl Tatum, born in 1953, was a Celtic for just three games in 1978. He played both wing positions, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers out of Marquette, where he spent a season before moving on to the Indiana Pacers. He joined Boston in a trade that netted the Pacers a first-round pick, but was shipped to the Detroit Pistons for Chris Ford and a second-round pick (later used to take Tracy Jackson) just a week into the 1978-79 season. He averaged 6.7 points and 1.3 rebounds over that brief stay, but paved the way for Ford's relatively productive tenure in the process.

The best known former Celtic born today to many current fans, however, is Delonte West - picked 24th overall by Boston in the 2004 NBA Draft after playing for St. Joseph's. Delonte's first season with Boston was marred by injury, with him only playing in 39 games, but nearly doubled his total the following season with 71. He more than doubled his scoring, assists and rebounds too, jumping from 4.5 to 11.8 points, 1.4 to 4.6 assists and 1.7 to 4.1 boards in his sophomore season. His development stalled a bit in his third season, but was still enough for him to be a major piece in the deal which brought Ray Allen and Glen Davis from the Seattle Supersonics, along with Jeff Green.

West would be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he'd spend two seasons before getting shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves with ex-Celtic Sebastian Telfair. West was waived by the club, and re-signed with the Celts during the 2010 offseason. Suspended for the first ten games of the season per league policy (he was convicted earlier that year on weapons charges in Maryland), Delonte would play out the season for Boston afterwards without incident (or great success - it was his worst stretch since his rookie year), joining the Dallas Mavericks the summer after, his last stop in the NBA before heading overseas.

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Image: Brian Babineau/NBAE
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