The Boston Celtics are undoubtedly one of the most historic franchises in the NBA. Since their formation in the mid-1940s, the C's have produced the most Hall of Famers, they've recorded the most wins and they are tied for the most championships in league history alongside their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.

With more than 70 years of rich tradition and legendary players, it's no easy task to decide who is the best of the best from the iconic organization. So, to successfully rank the top-10 players in Celtics history, we'll have to look at this franchise in multiple different eras.

With Boston's unprecedented dominance of the 1960s, its resurgence in the 1980s, and its creation of the “Big Three” in the late 2000s all in mind, let's honor and rank the 10 greatest Celtics players who made the Green Team into a storied franchise.

10. Bill Sharman

So many notable players have helped raise banners for the Celtics over the years that it's easy to forget a few. Shooting guard Bill Sharman, who played for Boston from 1951 to 1961, is one of those names that's faded a bit over time. However, the modern NBA fan should get familiar with the eight-time All-Star.

When the Celtics won their first title in franchise history in 1957, Sharman was there. He averaged 21.1 points per game during that postseason and helped the team capture three more titles in 1959, 1960, and 1961.

Of course, it's worth noting that there weren't even 10 teams then, which made the road to a title a bit easier than it is in the modern NBA. Yet, Sharman was still an all-time great that deserves to be on this list. He was one of the first guards back then to become a respectable shooter, and he even set the free-throw percentage record at the time by connecting on 93.2 percent of his shots from the charity stripe during the 1958-1959 season.

While that record was eventually topped more than 15 years later, Sharman undoubtedly helped shape Boston's winning culture. He probably wasn't the best player on those early Celtics teams, yet the Hall of Famer deserves his flowers all the same.

9. Sam Jones

Another Celtic great who established Boston's championship pedigree was shooting guard Sam Jones. Like Sharman, he helped the Celtics dominate during the 1960s. The exception is that Jones was there for many more championships than him.

In fact, during his 12-year NBA career, Jones won 10 rings, one for each of his fingers! These 10 championships are the second-most in league history, trail only the legendary Bill Russell (but we'll get to him later).

Jones was a great scorer and jump shooter in an era where the game was still being developed. He averaged 17.7 points per game for his career and had a knack for getting big baskets at the right time. For instance, in Game 7 of the 1966 NBA Finals, he dropped 22 points en route to a narrow 95-93 win over the Lakers. With that clutch performance, the C's won their eighth straight championship, something no other professional team has done in the four major North American sports.

Additionally, Jones gets some bonus points for returning to college in 1956 even though the Lakers drafted him. If he didn't do that, perhaps a few titles would've gone Los Angeles' way instead of Boston's.

8. Robert Parish

Although Hall of Fame center Robert Parish didn't start his career in Boston, he's as much of a true Celtic as anyone else on this list. The “Chief” was a vital part of the Celtics' success in the 1980s, as he won three titles and received nine All-Star nods on the Green Team.

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With his staunch defense and fearsome paint presence, Parish averaged 14.5 points, 1.5 blocks, and 9.1 rebounds per game over a career that lasted more than two decades. To this day, the 7-foot-1 legend has played in more games than anyone else in NBA history. The only player with any hopes of catching him is future Hall of Famer LeBron James, but even that'd require at least three more healthy seasons from the NBA's all-time leading scorer.

While Parish had success with other teams, like when he became the oldest player to ever win a title at 43 years old with the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, he was still on the Celtics for 14 total seasons. In addition, he was as reliable as they come for the C's, as he never missed more than eight games in a regular season. Durability for a big like that is practically unheard of in today's league, which is why we need to show some respect to Parish.

7. Kevin McHale

Speaking of big guys who have donned the Celtics uniform, Kevin McHale went from being one of the best bench players in all of basketball to a Hall of Fame power forward with three championships to his name. Alongside Parish and the famous Larry Bird, the 6-foot-10 big man helped turn the C's into a powerhouse again with his tough defense and skilled maneuvers in the post.

There's an argument to be made for putting Parish over McHale, but when it comes to individual accolades, McHale has the edge. He made three All-Defensive First Teams, three All-Defensive Second Teams, and received seven All-Star nods. Plus, he was a two-time Sixth Man of the Year and was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1987. Somehow, Parish never qualified for any All-Defensive Teams, and he didn't earn any All-NBA First Team honors either.

McHale spent all 13 of his NBA seasons with the organization and his loyalty to this team cannot be ignored. During that lengthy period, he averaged an impressive 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per outing. Like everybody else on this list, he was selected for the NBA's prestigious 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.

6. Dave Cowens

The Celtics are primarily known for their dominance in the 1960s and 1980s, but they also had a good run in the 1970s. A major part of those 70s squads was center Dave Cowens, as he was an eight-time All-Star and a double-double machine.

In fact, Cowens averaged double-digit points and rebounds for the majority of his career. In his best season, he posted a whopping 20.5 points and 16.2 rebounds per outing. For his stellar 1972-1973 campaign (in which he played every game), Cowens was named the league's MVP, something only three other players have accomplished in franchise history.

The former MVP was a crucial contributor during Boston's title runs in both 1974 and 1976 and even though he didn't finish his career with the Green Team, he's still an all-time great in this organization's lore.

5. Paul Pierce

The most recent Celtic on this list has to be 10-time All-Star and 2021 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Pierce. After the C's had a dismal decade in the 1990s, Pierce, with fellow “Big Three” members Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, re-established Boston as a perennial championship contender.

In 2008, Pierce helped lead the Celtics to their first title in over 20 years and for his efforts, he was named Finals MVP. While he doesn't have a league MVP like Cowens, Pierce was one of the best bucket-getters in franchise history and he's currently the second all-time leading scorer for the franchise. During his 15 seasons in Beantown, he notched an impressive 21.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.

Despite only having one championship to his name, which is less than every other player on this list, Pierce never had the luxury of playing most of his career in a smaller league. With the competition spread out across 30 teams, winning a championship was much more difficult than it was many decades ago. Recency bias can often sway our thinking, yet there's no denying that “The Truth” was one of the best players in a modern league full of high-level competition.

4. John Havlicek

If you want to talk about the winning history of the Celtics, you have to bring up John Havlicek. The talented swingman played in Boston for his entire 16-year career and he won eight championships. When he got to the NBA Finals, Havlicek and the Celtics did not lose, as he was a perfect 8-0 in championship series.

Furthermore, he participated in 13 All-Star Games, made four All-NBA First Teams, and was the 1974 Finals MVP. With all those accolades, it's no surprise that Havlicek was one of the best all-around players of the 60s and 70s. For his career, he averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.

He was also immortalized for having the most famous steal in NBA history during Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. If he didn't swipe that inbound pass against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics would be remembered for an embarrassing collapse that year instead of a triumphant victory.

3. Bob Cousy

Although Bob Cousy played many decades ago, his impact on today's game is still felt. The Manhattan native revolutionized the point guard position and he remains one of the best passers of all time.

For eight straight seasons, Cousy led the league in assists per game and he owns the record for the most assists in franchise history. Plus, he was a 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA First Teamer, six-time champion and named the league's MVP in 1957. His greatness has always been respected as well, as he's one of only four players to be a part of the NBA's 25th, 35th, 50th, and 75th Anniversary Teams.

Over the course of his career, he put up 18.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per outing. While the game of basketball has changed a lot since his playing days, Cousy's passing abilities left an undeniable legacy.

2. Larry Bird

The Celtics have had so many incredible players that it's easy to have a very different Top 10 ranking from someone else. However, Larry Bird is one of the few Boston legends that needs to be on every list.

Even though plenty of players underestimated Bird, his legendary talent was apparent in the NBA. He was a 12-time All-Star, three-time champion, three-time MVP and a two-time Finals MVP. While plenty of Celtics have won championships and made All-Star teams, Bird has the most Finals MVPs in Celtics' history and is the last player to have won three consecutive league MVP awards.

Bird's stretch of dominance in the 80s was remarkable and during his revered career, he averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He's arguably the greatest scorer in team history and he paved the way for today's skilled three-point shooters. In addition, he never shot under 45 percent from the floor in a season, so his elite shot-making goes hand in hand with nearly unheard of efficiency.

1. Bill Russell

It's fun to think about all the great players that have passed through Boston, yet at the end of the day, there's a clear name that must be No. 1 on everyone's list. Bill Russell was a basketball pioneer who led the Celtics to a whopping 11 championships.

With his 11 rings, no other player in NBA history has more championships to their name than Russell. Not only was he a winner, but he was also an outstanding individual player who tallied five MVP awards, tied for the most all-time with the legendary Michael Jordan.

Russell was a defensive powerhouse who could also score and rebound with the best of them. He had insane career averages of 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game and he was a great leader too. Serving as a player-coach for three seasons, Russell became the first Black coach in league history to win a championship after upsetting the Lakers in 1969.

While Russell holds no Finals MVPs, those didn't even exist until the end of his career. In fact, the award itself is now named after him, as the NBA knows he should have at least a few of them!

Essentially, Russell had it all. He has the titles, the individual accomplishments and the statistics to make him one of the best athletes of all time. Perhaps his most commendable feat is breaking down racial barriers in sports and overcoming racist attacks during his childhood, his college years and throughout his time in Boston.

Despite all the hardships faced, Russell was able to transform the game of basketball and become a champion on and off the court. He will forever live on as the history of the NBA is taught from generation to generation.