One banner in the rafters accomplished a lifelong goal for Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Another, and they’re in the conversation with the great Boston Celtics teams of all time.
“Everybody wants to have one. All the teams want to get there. But there have been a lot of great players who never did,” said Tom “Satch” Sanders, who won eight NBA titles in a Celtics career that lasted from 1960-73. Winning a second, Sanders said, “It does nothing for you except for one thing: It makes you want more.”
For Boston, the championships have always come in bunches. Bill Russell’s teams won eight straight titles and 11 out of 13 from 1957-69. In the ’70s, a nucleus of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and JoJo White won two. In the ’80s, Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale added three more.
“These guys are right up there. They’re doing some good things,” Cowens said Monday night, standing on the Celtics’ parquet under the championship banners at the TD Garden during a benefit for the New England Sports Museum. “The more you win, the better it is for everybody.” The most decorated franchise in NBA history, the Celtics had gone an unprecedented 21 years without adding to their record cache of championships before Garnett and Allen joined Pierce in Boston and won banner No. 17 in 2008. But even after their victory, coach Doc Rivers told his players that one wasn’t enough in Boston. “Obviously, one is special,” Rivers said this spring after the Celtics advanced to the finals for the second time in three years. “But the other groups have a couple, and we’d love to join that club. … We’ve talked about that, that we want to join that club. No one can ever take away the first title. But we want to join another club, too.”