BOSTON – Earlier this month, when Ty Law was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I wrote about which other recent members of the New England Patriots roster had a chance at the Hall. Since the Boston Celtics are an equally formidable franchise, it only made sense to also write about which recent and active Celtics have a shot at basketball immortality going forward.
At the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, there are currently 34 players, coaches, and contributors who were involved with the Celtics franchise at some point in their basketball tenures. Among them are legends like Bill Russell and Larry Bird. JoJo White's 2015 induction and Ray Allen's 2018 enshrinement are Boston's most recent honors for the Hall.
But since the 1980s-era Celtics, there has been a rotating cast of athletes who might definitely have carved out a spot for themselves in Springfield during their careers that intersected with the Celtics at some point.
The restrictions for the Basketball Hall of Fame are definitely more lax than those for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but that does not mean that every Celtic who leads the team in scoring is destined for enshrinement. It still remains a rare honor for the league's elite.
As for executives, I find it unlikely that Danny Ainge won't make the Hall of Fame as a general manager when all is said and done. The various trades and free agent signings he has pulled off over the years are among the best in basketball history. The maneuvering to bring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen into the mix is probably reason enough to induct him into the Hall.
Speaking of Garnett, he is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. One of the best defensive players of all-time and a 15 time All-Star, the "Big Ticket" won the 2004 MVP award, as well as the 2008 NBA Championship, a title for which he was the difference maker. His 21 seasons in the league saw him average 17.8 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. He will definitely be inducted as a part of the Class of 2020.
The Class of 2021 will be led by Paul Pierce, who is a longtime Celtic great with a retired number in the TD Garden rafters. Even more than Garnett, Pierce is a guarantee with his 19.7 points per game in 19 NBA seasons. In two years, every member of Boston's "Big Three" from 2007 to 2012 will be enshrined.
As for the coach of that squad, Doc Rivers' odds for the Hall are also looking pretty good. His 894-658 record has led him to the playoffs in every year except four during his two decade long coaching career. And he's still going!
The only other player from the "Big Three" era who will sniff the Hall is Rajon Rondo, but I wouldn't bet on the electrifying point guard getting voted in. A four-time All-Star and master of defense and assists, Rondo was one of the game's most exciting players in the early 2010s, but he quickly dropped off in terms of playing quality. He had a solid career, but it is just not extended enough to warrant Hall of Fame consideration.
In terms of more recent members of the Celtics, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford come to mind as likely candidates, if they can keep up their current statistical and talent-based paces. (Some deep playoff runs won't hurt either.)
The Celtics powerhouse of the mid-2010s, Isaiah Thomas, probably is too much of a flash in the pan to get any more than one percent consideration at the Hall. And current top players on the Celtics, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum, are in the same boat as their coach, Brad Stevens. It's too early to tell and they have got a long way to go.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / rizha ubal