Sanders named to 2011 Hall of Fame Class


Sanders named to 2011 Hall of Fame Class

By A.Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM Every now and then, you'll see this slender, lanky, bow-tie wearing man at the Boston Celtics practice facility.

One by one, current Celtics will stop to say a few words to the distinguished gentleman, showing the kind of admiration that's reserved for basketball royalty.

It's Tom "Satch" Sanders, one of the Celtics' greatest role players ever and an integral part of eight championships during his 13 NBA seasons -- all with the Celtics.

So it's only fitting that Sanders became the latest Celtics player to be elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Sanders, 72, enters the Hall of Fame as a contributor, selected by the veteran's committee.

"It was fun playing with so many of those guys," Sanders said. "It certainly is fun to be on the club again."

Although he averaged double figures scoring in 9 of his 13 seasons, Sanders didn't put up the kind of scoring numbers usually associated with a Hall of Fame career.

He was a 9.6 points-per-game career scorer, and never averaged more than 12.6 points in a single season.

But his impact on games wasn't about numbers, unless you focused on the low shooting percentage most of the guys he guarded shot against the Celtics.

Sanders' game was about four letters: W-I-N-S.

"The quintessential team member was Tom Sanders, who had a very selfless role as a player," said Tommy Heinsohn, Sanders' former teammate and coach with the Celtics. "He was a guy, I termed him the second-best defender on a very good defensive team, next to Bill Russell. But he was never recognized in the league for that."

Despite being such an important cog in the Celtics' defensive machine under Red Auerbach and later Heinsohn, Sanders was considered no more than a role player on a very good team.

In fact, it was what Sanders did after his playing days that had as much with him getting into the Hall of Fame as anything.

Along with coaching stints with the Celtics and Harvard University, Sanders played a pivotal role in the development of NBA rookie orientation programs that, in many ways, were emulated by other professional sports leagues.

"That influences the lives of current players, past players to where they can adjust to the life, liberty and what the country is all about," said Heisohn, an NBA analyst for Comcast SportsNet. "He's been a solid contributor in every way, every facet of the game. He coached. He was a coach at Harvard. He was my assistant coach at the Celtics (and later the head coach when Heinsohn was dismissed in 1977-78). It's long overdue for Sanders to make the Hall of Fame."

When the Celtics drafted him with the eighth overall pick in 1960, Sanders knew he was joining a team where winning an NBA title wasn't a goal, but an expectation.

Oh, yeah, he definitely felt some added pressure.

"One thing I didn't want to do was become the guy that was drafted and . . . not have them win," Sanders said. "That was a heck of a burden at that point in time. And then we kept on winning, and the burden is now on the shoulders of some other rookies' shoulder that comes in because I'm in the club now."

Only two players in NBA history -- Sanders' teammates, Bill Russell (11) and Sam Jones (10) -- were part of more championship teams than Sanders.

Those teams consisted of players who had very defined roles, and rarely strayed from that because the goal was clear: win a championship.

"Everybody had been on winning teams and knew what it took to be winners," Heinsohn said. "They remind me of the current Celtics team and the one that won in '08. Nobody cared about who scored what. They were worried about the wins and losses. Satch epitomized that."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.