Being one of the most successful franchises in the entire history of the league, the Boston Celtics have had their fair share of great players through the years. Ask anyone and they would be hard-pressed to name their Top 3 Celtics of all-time without having to hesitantly omit a legend or two.
Be that as it may, there are actually quite a surprising number of legends whose time with the Celtics were rather forgotten. Today we’ve rounded up the five best players who you probably forgot even dawned the Celtics uniform.
Dominique Wilkins is known for many things, such as one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history. What he is not known for to most, however, is being part of the Celtics.
Well, Wilkins actually signed with the C’s as a 35-year-old free agent. This was already at the tail end of his illustrious career, and at that point, he was no longer the unstoppable scorer he once was. Nevertheless, he still managed to put up 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game as a member of the Celtics.
Things got a bit hazy for Wilkins after his lone season in Boston, with the nine-time All-Star alternating stints abroad with a couple of seasons in the NBA. He finally called it a career in 1999 at the age of 39.
Gary Payton is most remembered for being one of the best point guard in the league as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. His bizarre and unsuccessful season with the Los Angeles Lakers is common knowledge for most, and probably so is his championship-winning run with the Miami Heat.
However, in between all the team-jumping at the latter part of his career, Payton actually spent one season with the Celtics. This was during the 2004-05 campaign, as he signed as a free agent with Boston following his forgettable and short-lived tenure with the Lakers. The former Defensive Player of the Year averaged a respectable 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.1 steals in 77 games played for the C’s.
Actually, Payton wasn’t able to finish the whole campaign with the Celtics, with the team trading him to the Heat prior to that season’s trade deadline.
Widely recognized as one of the most dominant big men who ever stepped on the court, Shaquille O’Neal is a four-time NBA champ. He led a memorable three-peat for the Lakers in the early 2000’s, and he won his fourth and final chip with the Heat in 2006.
However, what some might forget is how he actually ended his career with a Celtics. This is quite ironic, given how Shaq is considered to be one of the greatest Lakers of all time, and at one point, it was unthinkable that he would ever join the Purple & Gold’s sworn enemy.
Nevertheless, Shaq did just that in the final season of his career. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks, playing just 20.3 minutes per game for the C’s as a 38-year-old.
Stephon Marbury played 13 years in the NBA, and during his prime he was one of the most electrifyingpoint guards in the entire league. However, long after he was an All-Star who averaged upwards of 20 points per game, Marbury actually a brief and rather unsuccessful stint with Boston.
This came during the 2008-09 season, in what turned out to be his last year in the league. After four and a half seasons with the New York Knicks, the team decided to waive Marbury in February of 2009. Thinking that he still had some gas left in him, the Celtics pounced, and signed a 31-year-old Marbury to a deal for the rest of the season.
This turned out to be a mistake, with the former two-time All-NBA team member having the worst spell of his career in Boston. In just 23 games played for the C’s, he averaged 3.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in just 18.0 minutes per contest.
Marbury left the league after that season, and reestablished himself as a reborn superstar in China not long after.
Chauncey Billups was front and center in one of the biggest NBA Finals upsets in league history. Of course we’re talking about that unforgettable Detroit Pistons championship in 2004, that upset a Lakers team that fielded Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Billups actually won Finals MVP that year, and he went on to become one of the premier point guards in the league for the next five or six years.
However, what might not be common knowledge for most is how Billups actually started his career in Boston. It was actually the Celtics who gambled on the former Colorado standout, selecting him third overall in the 1997 draft.
Boston’s front office did not have much patience with him, though, and they quickly traded him away to the Toronto Raptors in the middle of his rookie campaign. Billups played just 51 games for the C’s, averaging 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Obviously, he did not turn out to be the player they expected him to be at that time.