Sanders named to 2011 Hall of Fame Class

191544.jpg

Sanders named to 2011 Hall of Fame Class

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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 atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.