The Boston Celtics are arguably the most respected franchise in NBA history with a track record of immense success. With a league-best 17 championships under their belt, the city of Boston is no stranger to greatness. Here is a rundown of all the moments that have defined the Celtics culture up until today.
5. Bob Cousy’s grand finale
The usual Celtics vs. Lakers rivalry was in full effect. Cousy had been the Celtics’ star point guard for multiple seasons with tons of accolades to his name. But in In 1963, Cousy was 35 and fading as the focal point of the team, averaging only 13.2 points and 6.8 assists per game.
Cousy went down with an ankle sprain in Game 6 with the team up by only 1 point late in the game. He was initially helped off the court, but he staged a heroic return to lead Boston to a 112-109 victory over Los Angeles. This was the 5th title in a row for the Celtics, but most importantly, this was the ‘Hardwood Houdini’s final act.
4. Sam Jones’ buzzer-beater
Prior to the 1969 NBA season, the Lakers and Celtics made some big headlines. Sam Jones announced he would retire at the age of 35 after 12 seasons with the Celtics, while the Lakers added some firepower with Wilt Chamberlain. Nevertheless, the Celtics and Lakers met again in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers jumped out to a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4. In Game 4, Los Angeles had a 1 point lead with 7 seconds remaining. However, Lakers forward Elgin Baylor turned the ball over, giving Boston one more chance. Jones took advantage and nailed the game winner at the buzzer to even the series. Jones finished the historic game with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
3. Bill Russell’s last ring as player/coach
The 1969 NBA Finals was truly an epic year for the Celtics vs. Lakers rivalry. With a game 7 showdown, Russell wanted to go out with a bang. While he only scored 5 points, he grabbed 21 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and clamped Wilt Chamberlain to only 18 points. Eventually, Boston defeated Los Angeles, 108-106, for the title.
After the hard fought game, Russell announced his retirement from the NBA as both player and coach. To this day, no one has bagged more hardware than Russell with 11 championships under his belt.
2. Larry Bird’s gorgeous game-winner
In Game 4 of 1984 NBA Finals, the and Celtics were able to force overtime against the Lakers. With the game tied at 123, Bird posted up against Magic Johnson to drill a one-legged turnaround fadeaway over his right shoulder to give the Celtics a 125-123 lead.
While Boston was able to close the series in Game 7, Bird’s shot in Game 4 remains to be one of the most iconic ones in NBA history.
1. The end of the 22-year championship drought
After seemingly making the Finals year after year, the Celtics weren’t able to set foot on the biggest stage for 22 years. That was until 2008 when the Celtics formed a dominant Big Three with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. Nonetheless, it was only fitting that the Celtics met the Kobe-led Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Boston led the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 in Los Angeles. The Lakers led by as many as 24 points, but the Celtics pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in NBA Finals history to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Celtics were then able to close out the series in Game 6 with a whopping score of 131-92 which set the record for the biggest defeat in an NBA Finals-clinching game in history.