Celtics honored to share All-Star experience

Celtics honored to share All-Star experience
February 20, 2011, 12:22 am
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By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Tommy Heinsohn was a six-time all-star for the Boston Celtics.

He'll be the first to tell you that he was honored each time he was picked.

But there was one year - 1962, to be precise - that stood out.

That was the year Heinsohn was joined by teammates Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Sam Jones on the all-star team.

"That made it an honor and half," Heinsohn told CSNNE.com. "It's always great when you play for a great team and the team is recognized like that. Because when that many guys go, it's not about their numbers, it's not about their stats. It's about their team. For me, that makes it an honor and half."

The C's once again have four players in the same all-star game after the Eastern Conference coaches voted Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo on to the team as reserves.

Starters. Backups.

It doesn't matter.

The Celtics (41-14) have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and their four all-star selections to a large degree validates that status.

"It's a comfortable feeling," Rondo said. "And it's exciting to be part of it."

For Pierce, this is his ninth all-star appearance - all with the Celtics.

And while each has been special, he acknowledges that this one will indeed be one of the more memorable regardless of the game's outcome.

"It's a big honor. This is something that, when you talk about and look at NBA history, you're going to talk about the last time four teammates made it, I'm going to be part of that," Pierce said. "It's great to be recognized in that aspect and to enjoy it with the guys I been around over the last four years, not only on the court but off the court."

Heinsohn, a Celtics analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England, was part of the 1962 Celtics team that had four all-stars. In addition, he coached the 1975 squad which also produced a quartet of all-star talent.

The year Heinsohn made the all-star with three teammates was also the season he averaged a career-high 22.1 points per game.

That 1962 team featured Bob Cousy was still effective but nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. Bill Russell's dominance of the NBA was just in its infancy. And Same Jones was coming into his own as a big-time scorer for the Green.

Heinsohn recalls one of the strengths of that team was how the players, much like this group of Celtics, understood their roles and carried them .

"Everybody had a job to do," Heinsohn told CSNNE.com. "You may not have always liked it, but you did it. Because we knew that's the way to win. And we did a lot of that, that year."

Boston went on to claim Banner 5 that year - the franchise's fourth straight championship - which included winning a then-franchise record 60 regular season games.

For Garnett, this marks his 14th consecutive all-star selection which ties Jerry West, Karl Malone and current Celtics teammate Shaquille O'Neal for the most consecutive all-star selections in NBA history.

That alone would make this a memorable game for Garnett.

"Being here with those guys and it's more than a pleasure," Garnett said. "You tend to come here by yourself. I've sort of gotten used to that. The fact that I'm up here with three other guys, it's remarkable. I'm happy."

So was former Celtic Paul Silas when he learned in 1975 that he was selected as an all-star.

There was little doubt that the other three Celtics chosen that year - John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and JoJo White - were among the NBA's elite. But the jury was still out on Silas, a burly 6-foot-7 power forward who averaged 10.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game that season.

Even with the uncertainty that he would make the team, Silas said he wasn't nervous.

"I wasn't even thinking about it, really," said Silas, who currently coaches the Charlotte Bobcats. "I didn't think I would get chosen, but the coaches selected me. It was a real thrill for me that they thought that much of my game to select me to the all-star game."

Silas chalks up his selection to one thing: winning.

"We were very successful that year as a team," Silas said. "That's one of the reasons they selected me."

And while all four of the C's all-stars this season have the kind of individual statistics that at the very least validates them being in the all-star conversation, they know the only reason all four of them are here is because the Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA all season.

"So much is made of it (having four all-stars), but our entire team helped us get here, pushing us in practice, helping us to get better," Rondo said. "It's four of us here, but we're representing the entire team."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn