All "What if They Played for the Celtics in their Prime" team
Not who played the best late in their careers, but who would have been amazing in their prime on the Celtics. For the rules of this team, you can't include players who played most or all of their careers on the Celtics (Bird, Russell, Cousy, etc). And you can't include players who came to the Celtics at the tail end of their primes or with a lot still left in the tank (Garnett, DJ, Ray Allen, Tiny Archibald, etc). If they made an All-Star team as a member of the Celtics, they're out.
It's basically hall of fame caliber players who had a cup of coffee with the Celtics at the twilight of their careers. Ok here's my list based on limited thought and research. Also, I'm likely missing some guys from the 60's and 70's, so please chime in the comments section with who I should add to the team.
Shaquille O'Neal is the only player who is on many people's NBA top 10 all-time lists, so he's the crown jewel of this team. A prime Shaq was as dominant as anyone.
The rest of the list includes a handful of other bigs like Jermaine O'Neal (All NBA talent on the Pacers), NBA champions Rasheed Wallace and Bill Walton, as well as holding on at the end of their career guys like the late Artis Gilmore and Blake Griffin.
People forget what a dominant start to the season this group had prior to Shaq getting injured. I mean him getting injured could have been predicted due to the shape he was in, but that team was STACKED coming out of training camp. pic.twitter.com/6HOiKZdnKb— CelticsLife.com (@celticslife) March 13, 2023
Walton of course won a title as the Celtics 6th man in 1986 and he's kind of the poster child for what fans want every time the Celtics sign an aging legend. If Rasheed had been in the shape needed to play a full Game 7 in Kendrick Perkins' absence in 2010, he very well could have been that generation's version of Walton.
At small forward you have the Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins. Imagine him playing alongside Bird instead of against him? 'Nique was a player I thought got a bad rap in Boston. He was on the Atlanta Hawks the prior season and despite leading them to the best record in the Eastern Conference they traded him to the Clippers for the younger Danny Manning. The Hawks ended up getting bounced in the first round.
Wilkins was asked to accept a less dominant role on the Celtics, but he came up very big in what was a more competive 1st round series againt Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic who would make it to the NBA Finals. Wilkins if I recall correctly got himself in better shape that next summer, but the NBA had a lockout or some labor stoppage and he signed in Greece where he won a championship.
I'm sure I'm missing some guards, but with DJ and Tiny ineligible, Pete Maravich and Gary Payton take the starting guard spots. I never saw Maravich play, but he's a legend from long before his Celtics time. I couldn't stand Payton on the Celtics, but I don't deny he was a top guard in his prime on the Sonics.
Since we only have nine players so far, there are some other guys who didn't make the cut due to not being Hall of Fame talents like Xavier McDaniel, Stephon Marbury, Rickey Green, Sam Cassell, ML Carr and Jim Paxson that might need to fill out the roster. But more likely I accidentally omitted someone worthy, so let me know in the comments section.
Flashback Friday: Pistol Pete Maravich Boston Celtics highlights https://t.co/deDaGHRLdV pic.twitter.com/djFU1LjlJU— CelticsLife.com (@celticslife) December 23, 2022
Add Bing and Birdsong.— John McDonald (@vwxg14a) March 14, 2023