Legends of the Parquet: 1985-86 Celtics, Boston & Basketball’s Greatest Team

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The best Celtics team of all-time was the 1985-86 Boston team that featured Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish in the frontcourt, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge in the backcourt, and Bill Walton coming off the bench as sixth man.

In the vast tapestry of basketball history, few teams have achieved the level of greatness exemplified by this 1985-86 Boston Celtics. With a lineup that redefined dominance, and players that combined skill and tenacity, this team etched their names in the annals of basketball lore.

Let us delve into the remarkable journey of this legendary team and the historical moments that paved the way for their success.

The Greatest Frontcourt in NBA History

When discussing the formidable frontcourt of the 1985-86 Celtics, one is left in awe.

Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish (and Bill Walton) were a quartet that redefined the concept of frontcourt authority.

Bird and McHale were perennial All-Stars, each possessing a unique set of skills that complemented one another perfectly. Robert Parish brought a stoic presence and unyielding defense, while Bill Walton, despite his injury history, provided a level of versatility and impact that few sixth men have ever achieved.

Together, they formed an unstoppable force that overwhelmed opponents on both ends of the court.

The Backcourt: A Perfect Complement

While the focus often gravitates toward the frontcourt, the Celtics’ backcourt was nothing short of exceptional.

Dennis Johnson, known for his defensive prowess, provided a gritty and relentless presence on the court. His ability to lock down opposing guards and make clutch defensive plays proved invaluable to the team’s success.

Danny Ainge brought his emotional intensity and deadly shooting from deep, often stepping up in crucial moments. Jerry Schichting and Scott Wedman rounded out the backcourt, adding depth and versatility to the team’s lineup.

Their collective contributions played an integral role in the Celtics’ success.

Historical Moments Leading to Success

The Celtics’ unparalleled success in the 1985-86 season was not built overnight; it was the culmination of several historical moments and factors that shaped the team’s journey.

1. The Arrival of Larry Bird

Larry Bird’s arrival in Boston in 1979 marked a turning point for the franchise. His unique blend of scoring ability, basketball IQ, and unwavering competitiveness transformed the Celtics into a championship contender. Bird’s impact on the team’s culture and his ability to elevate the play of his teammates cannot be overstated.

2. The Hiring of Coach K.C. Jones:

In 1983, the Celtics brought in K.C. Jones as head coach, a move that proved instrumental in the team’s success. Jones implemented a fast-paced, team-oriented style of play that perfectly suited the Celtics’ roster. Under his guidance, the Celtics developed a cohesive identity built on selflessness, ball movement, and stifling defense.

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3. The Evolution of Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale’s development into a commanding force in the frontcourt was a significant turning point for the Celtics. With his unique array of post moves, footwork, and scoring touch, McHale became an unstoppable offensive weapon. His emergence alongside Bird and Parish formed the foundation of the Celtics’ frontcourt mastery.

4. Bill Walton’s Resurgence

Bill Walton’s career had been plagued by injuries, but in the 1985-86 season, he found new life as a member of the Celtics. Walton’s ability to contribute as a sixth man provided a dimension that no other team possessed. His passing, shot-blocking, and basketball smarts added another layer of depth to an already stacked Celtics roster.

5. Home-Court Dominance

The Boston Garden became an intimidating fortress for the Celtics during the 1985-86 season. Their home-court dominance was a historical moment in itself, with the team finishing the regular season with an astounding 40-1 record at the Boston Garden.

The passionate and loyal Celtics fans created an electric atmosphere that propelled the team to greater heights. Opposing teams knew they were in for a grueling battle when they stepped foot into the Garden, facing not only the talent of the Celtics but also the unwavering support of the crowd.

6. The Intensity of Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson’s defensive abilities and unwavering intensity were crucial to the Celtics’ success. His ability to lock down opposing guards, make timely steals, and provide veteran leadership on the court was invaluable. Johnson’s tenacity set the tone for the team’s defensive mindset and his clutch performances in critical moments elevated the Celtics to new heights.

7. The Clutch Performances of Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge’s ability to rise to the occasion in crucial moments cannot be overlooked. Ainge’s emotional playstyle, combined with his sharpshooting from deep, made him a intimidating weapon for the Celtics. His knack for hitting big shots and making plays under pressure added an extra dimension to the team’s offensive arsenal.

8. Team Resilience

The 1985-86 Celtics exhibited resilience in the face of adversity. Overcoming injuries, the team showed incredible mental fortitude and a refusal to back down. Whether it was Robert Parish battling through various ailments or Bill Walton resurrecting his career after years of injuries, the Celtics showcased their unwavering determination to achieve greatness.

The Path to Glory

The Celtics’ journey to their championship glory in the 1985-86 season was filled with memorable moments. Their performance in the regular season carried into the playoffs, where they faced challening opponents and overcame significant challenges.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics clashed with the Milwaukee Bucks, a team boasting talents such as Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, and Bob Lanier. In a fiercely contested series, the Celtics prevailed, displaying their grit and composure in tight games to secure their spot in the NBA Finals.

In those NBA Finals, the Celtics faced the Houston Rockets, led by twin towers Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. The series showcased the contrasting styles of play, with the Celtics relying on their teamwork and depth, while the Rockets relied heavily on their dynamic frontcourt duo.

After six hard-fought games, the Celtics emerged victorious, capturing their 16th championship in franchise history.

How did it all take shape?

1. Battle-Tested Roster

The Celtics’ roster was comprised of warriors who thrived in physical, hard-fought battles. Each player brought a unique blend of skill, toughness, and grit to the court. From bruising low-post game to shot-blocking, the Celtics were a force to be reckoned with at every position. They relished the physicality of the game, and their resilience in the face of adversity set them apart.

2. Mental Toughness

The 1985 Celtics possessed a mental fortitude that elevated their game to new heights. They thrived under pressure and embraced the challenges that came their way. Whether it was battling through injuries, overcoming deficits, or thriving in hostile arenas, the Celtics never wavered.

Their belief in themselves and their ability to execute in crucial moments propelled them to numerous come-from-behind victories and cemented their reputation as a team that never backed down.

3. Legacy of Grit

The impact of the 1985 Celtics extended far beyond their season’s accomplishments. Their brand of tough, hard-nosed basketball inspired a generation of players and left an indelible mark on the sport.

Their legacy lives on in the hearts of basketball fans who appreciate the grit and determination they displayed on a nightly basis. The 1985 Celtics proved that toughness goes beyond physicality—it’s a mindset, a refusal to quit, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve victory

The influence of the 1985-86 Celtics transcends their on-court achievements. They embodied the city of Boston’s blue-collar work ethic and resilience, capturing the hearts of fans and inspiring generations.

The team’s unique blend of talent, basketball IQ, and selflessness created a lasting legacy. Their success during the season and their ability to overcome adversity showcased the greatness of the 1985-86 Celtics, solidifying their place as the overall best basketball team ever.

All together, the 1985 Boston Celtics left an indelible mark on the NBA, forever etching their names in the annals of basketball history. Led by the relentless Larry Bird and guided by the tactical genius of Coach K.C. Jones, this gritty squad redefined toughness on the court.

With individual accolades such as Bird’s MVP honors, Kevin McHale’s All-Star appearances, and the Sixth Man of the Year award for Bill Walton, their roster boasted exceptional talent.

The legacy of the 1985 Celtics lives on as a testament to their unyielding spirit, their unrivaled work ethic, and their refusal to back down from any challenge.

Their thrilling battles, heart-stopping comebacks, and unwavering determination made them a team that fans will forever cherish.

The 1985 Celtics weren’t just a basketball team; they were a thrilling embodiment of passion, resilience, and the sheer joy of the game. Their journey was a rollercoaster of excitement and triumph, and their legacy continues to inspire generations of basketball enthusiasts.

About Ryan from Sport Stuff Genius 58 Articles
A complete sports fanatic most of his life, Ryan has taken his interest and expert knowledge to Sport Stuff Genius—a blog dedicated to uncovering answers to different questions and bringing fun to all things ball.