Selecting the Top 10 Celtics of the decade seemed like a fairly simple exercise: Take the current starting 5 and pick an all-star bench from the past 10 years to complement. And, while the overwhelming success of the past two-plus seasons made choosing the first five players so simple, filling the final slots spotlighted just how bad much of the remainder of the decade had been.
Sift through stats from the 2000-01 season -- a 36-win campaign that featured the resignation of Rick Pitino -- and you wonder whether Eric Williams or Tony Battie made a better case to be considered that year. Examine leaders from the 2004-05 season -- a 45-win season that featured the resignation of Jim O'Brien -- and lament how Mark Blount -- Mark Blount!? -- finished second on the team in points behind Paul Pierce.
Ask friends for advice and they make cases for Jiri Welsch and Vitaly Potapenko. That's when you realize this isn't going to be as easy as you previously thought.
We're confident you'll agree with the top eight on our list (though maybe you'll find some fault in the ordering). We made a last-minute decision to include director of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who deserves as much credit for assembling the Big Three as the players themselves do for their accomplishments on the court. Heck, you can easily make the case that Ainge belongs as one of the top two Celtics of the decade. But the focus here was on-court production and Ainge's inclusion is more a result of -- after the top seven -- it was rather slim pickings.
A couple of honorable mentions as both Battie and Walter McCarty both drew heavy consideration for final spots. Battie played five-plus serviceable seasons and ultimately got dealt with Eric Williams in a trade that brought Ricky Davis to Boston (and a second-round pick that ended up being Ryan Gomes). McCarty's numbers plummeted this decade, even if Tommy Heinsohn's "I Love Waltah!" gained steam in the 2000s.
James Posey, Glen Davis, Eddie House, Leon Powe, and Tony Allen all deserve consideration as well, especially as part of the bench that helped the Celtics claim banner No. 17 during the 2007-08 season.
Check out my list, then give us your list.
One of the byproducts of putting in all the research to identify the top players is discovering all the bad players that passed through Boston. Here's a hastily assembled bottom 10 -- in no particular order. Feel free to leave your additions in the comments section:
1. Vin Baker: BasketballReference.com estimates Baker made $89 million in salary during his career, much of which came for appearing in just 89 lackluster games for the Celtics.
2. Mark Blount: Ten times during his five total seasons in Boston, the 7-foot Blount registered zero rebounds despite playing 10 minutes or more. On Jan. 21, 2001, he logged 22 minutes in a loss to Golden State, registering eight points, three steals, five fouls, and no rebounds. How is that even possible for the biggest player on the floor?
3. Michael Olowokandi: He didn't cost much ($1.1 million), but the former No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft averaged 1.7 points and 2 rebounds per game in 2006-07, his final season in the league.
4. Kedrick Brown: Maybe the most baffling pick of the decade, the Celtics grabbed Brown out of Okaloosa-Walton Community College with the 11th pick in the 2001 draft. He spent 2 1/2 forgettable seasons in Boston before being traded to Cleveland in December of 2003 as part of the Ricky Davis trade. Brown was last spotted playing basketball in Turkey.
5. Jerome Moiso: Speaking of awful 11th picks, the Celtics grabbed Moiso in the same spot as Brown one year earlier. He scored 35 points in 24 appearances before being traded to the 76ers just 13 months after being drafted.
6. Gerald Green: Drafted with the 18th pick in the 2005 draft, Green seemed to be breaking out during his sophomore campaign (10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds), but he proved to be nothing more than a freakish leaper (he won the 2007 Slam Dunk contest) and the Celtics were able to peddle him as part of the Kevin Garnett deal.
7. Stephon Marbury: Sure, he behaved while appearing in 23 games for the Celtics last season. But the two-time All-Star averaged a mere 3.8 points and 3.3 assists in 18 minutes per game off the bench. He shot just 30 percent in the playoffs as his numbers dipped to 3.7 points and 1.8 assists in nearly 12 minutes per contest. Marbury is out of basketball this year, and can be found broadcasting live most days on UStream.
8. Sebastian Telfair: The most notable moment of his brief Celtics tenure came off the court when he was charged with felony possession of a weapon after a loaded weapon was found in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Telfair averaged 6.1 points and 2.8 assists over 78 games.
9. Joe Forte: A first-round pick (21st overall, 2001) of the Celtics, Forte was better known for his sideline attire (a Scooby-Doo shirt in the playoffs; Cosby-like sweaters; and anything in Carolina blue) than for any of his on-court accomplishments (six total points in eight games with Boston during his rookie season). He was traded to Seattle as part of the Baker deal.
10. Tom Gugliotta: Brought in to add a veteran presence during the 2004-05 season, Gugliotta appeared in 20 games, averaging 1.3 points and 2.2 rebounds over 11 minutes per game before being traded in a deal that brought Antoine Walker back to Boston.