Celtic Nation Interviews

Walter McCarty

The modern day NBA is awash with versatile big men, the kind of players who can score both inside and out, the kind of players who can battle underneath for the big rebound on one possession, and who can step behind the three-point line and knock down a long-distance trey on the next.  Dirk Nowitzki is the prototype, but there are others – think Kevin Durant and Kevin Love and you begin to get the point. If Nowitzki is the prototype, Walter McCarty was the precursor; the 6’10” forward could run the floor with the best of the NBA’s bigs, a player equally comfortable taking the ball to the rack or spotting up to drain a three in transition.  He was a better-than-average ball handler.  He could defend inside out.  He was truly as versatile as they come – a veritable Swiss Army Knife of ...

Fred Roberts

The sports world has always been a star-driven universe, the imaginations of its fans fueled by extraordinary performances under pressure: Joe Montana’s precision passing in the Super Bowl, David Beckham’s creative shot-making in the World Cup, Albert Pujols’ towering home runs in the World Series. The stars sell the tickets and the jerseys, and they drive television revenue through the ceiling in the process. Larry and Magic arrived when fan interest in professional basketball at an all-time low; their battles sparked the NBA’s Golden Age, and the league transformed itself into a global marketing machine thanks in large part to their epic rivalry. And the same can be said for individual sports – in golf there has always been an Arnold Palmer, or a Jack Nicklaus, or...

Greg Kite

There is an old saying in basketball, its originator lost to the ages, but one suspects it came moments after the legendary Wilt Chamberlain first walked on a basketball floor for Overbrook High in Philadelphia as a 7-foot freshman.  “You can’t coach size,” the saying goes, and it has yet to be disproved.  Coaches can teach you how to shoot, how to play defense, how to dribble and how to pass. They can teach you the zone defense and the dribble-drive offense.  They can’t teach you to be 6-feet, 11-inches tall and, and they can’t teach you to possess the raw-boned strength that makes in nearly impossible to back down such a force of nature in the low post. Such is the case with Greg Kite, a 6′-11”, 250 pound backup center for the Boston Celtics during the NBA’s Golden Age ...

M.L. Carr

To a generation of Boston Celtics fans, M.L. Carr was the towel-waving agitator best remembered for antagonizing players and fans alike while teammates Larry Bird & Co. battled the Los Angeles Lakers in that epic 1984 NBA Finals.  To another generation of fans, Carr was the Celtics’ coach and general manager during some of the darkest days in franchise history, overseeing one of the team’s worst seasons in a futile effort to hit lottery gold in the form of Wake Forest star Tim Duncan.  Either way, Carr’s mark on the Boston Celtics is indelible.  He is part and parcel of the team’s rich tradition and history:  He is a member of the ’81 and ’84 Celtic teams that overcame long odds to hang banners in the old Boston Garden; he remains close to the Celtics’ cognoscenti, from President of Ba...

Rick Robey

He is equal parts Kentucky royalty and NBA rank-and-file, a former blue collar big man who played for two of the most storied basketball traditions the game has ever known. How many players can say they’ve won a national championship playing for the Kentucky Wildcats, and then gone on to win an NBA crown with the Boston Celtics? Rick Robey can. He can also say that he’s won a state high school title at Brother Martin in Louisiana, and added an NIT championship to his Kentucky haul, effectively hitting for the cycle in terms of bringing home the hardware. And Robey is a legend in the Bluegrass State for his remarkable collegiate career, which culminated with that national championship and with him being named a consensus NCAA All-American Second Team selection (1978). Growing up...

John Havlicek

He was born to run, and for sixteen seasons John Havlicek was an unyielding force of perpetual motion for the Boston Celtics, breaking down defenders and NBA records alike, winning eight NBA championships first as Sixth Man extraordinaire, then as an All-Star standout in the waning years of the Russell Dynasty, and finally as an All-NBA First Team selection, NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and key protagonist in the NBA’s Greatest Game Ever Played.  Havlicek, or ‘Hondo’ to legions of adoring fans, will be forever immortalized by the most famous radio call in basketball history, but his most lasting mark is that of the indefatigable forward and undisputed leader of the NBA’s signature franchise, the quintessential running man blessed with sure hands, a quick mind and...

Sam Jones

Imagine:   The greatest athletic deal-closer of the twentieth century is celebrated endlessly, his name floating atop every all-time championship list and dropped into every serious debate over who has exerted the greatest influence on their sport, his close personal friendships awash in celebrity, royalty and head-of-state chutzpah.  His likeness is iconic, a symbol of championship excellence against which all others in team sport are measured.  His legacy as the ultimate bottom line, results-oriented exclamation point is long since secure, the label ‘winner’ perhaps more synonymous with his name than any athlete in history.  And yet when Bill Russell – yes, that Bill Russell, the one with the signature laugh and all of those championship rings, many of them coming at the expense of a cer...

Arnie Risen

He battled George Mikan during the early days of his professional career, and he teamed with Bill Russell in its twilight, his contributions to the game obscured by basketball’s most dominant big men of the twentieth century.  Arnie Risen is understandably cool with this.  The shadows cast by Mikan and Russell swallowed their eras whole, and Risen is not alone among the forgotten.  The wooden barn that was Edgerton Park Sports Arena is long gone, the games but fading memories to a vanishing breed of NBA fan.  Risen played professional basketball at a time when the game itself was dwarfed not only by our national pastime, but also by a collegiate game that included such legendary coaches as Adolph Rupp, Phog Allen and Slats Gill.  Football had grown in popularity by showcasing big names on ...

Jerry Sichting

He was like any other Indiana schoolboy of the day, a sports junkie spending countless outside hours bouncing between the diamond, the court and the gridiron, always playing some sort of ball, the folklore in his state filled with stories of Knute Rockne and Notre Dame football, and of Bobby Plump and the miracle Milan basketball team that later inspired the movie Hoosiers, his dreams bigger than the outlandish feats of Indiana legends John Wooden and Oscar Robertson, men who would revolutionize the very sport he would come to love above all the rest.  He was like the other boys in other ways as well; neither particularly fast, nor especially big, he hardly seemed the sort who would hang in a league boasting the best athletes in the world, much less do so for ten seasons while playing an i...

Tom Heinsohn

He is perhaps the single most overlooked player in the Boston Celtics’ storied pantheon of greatness, his arrival coinciding with that of a certain shot-blocking, game-altering, paradigm-shifting center named Bill Russell, his place on the 1956-57 roster anything but guaranteed, his considerable basketball talent initially overshadowed by the dazzling ball handling of fellow Holy Cross alum Bob Cousy and the dead-eye marksmanship of the gifted Bill Sharman.  There would soon be other marquee players added to the mix, future hall-of-famers such as John Havlicek and the Jones Boys, KC and Sam, further obscuring the contributions of one Thomas William Heinsohn, and yet his very arrival helped cement a roster on the rise send the Boston Celtics on an unparalleled, decade-long championship feas...

Gene Conley

He was Bo before Bo, a two-sport phenom who won championships with arguably two of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century, first as a World Series pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves, and then as a center on a dynastic Boston Celtic team loaded with hall-of-fame talent.  His championship double remains the rarest feat in sports, never duplicated, a watershed achievement that only grows more unattainable in this modern day age of specialization.  Still, Gene Conley takes it all in stride, deflecting the significance of his title-winning double-feature, choosing instead to place the focus on a combination of fortuitous circumstance and teammates nonpareil.  His humble demeanor belies a man, who, in 1955, took the mound in the 12th inning of baseball’s Midsummer Classic and pitched the N...

Larry Siegfried

He was a high school phenom, a Paul Bunyan in basketball shorts, and a player who could score points in bunches from all angles on the court.  His 176-point eruption in a one month span during his senior season at Shelby High remains laced across the record books in the State of Ohio, a testament to his telekinetic court presence and deadeye marksmanship.  Few at that level have ever played the game better.  Fewer still would argue that claim.  He was a virtuoso in high tops, equally adept at pulling down rebounds and dishing out assists, and the kind of player perfectly suited to join John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas on a championship quest at Ohio State.  That Larry Siegfried would follow Havlicek to professional glory with the Boston Celtics is hardly surprising.  Siegfried’s sweet shootin...

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