From the early sounds of the amplified guitar to jazz, from classic rock to mid-90’s alternative, from R&B to today’s indie-rock, imagine Boston Celtics legends, past and present, from a musical perspective:
Modern Celtic Greats
Kevin Garnett is Radiohead. Part-Thom Yorke, part-Johnny Greenwood, part Nigel Godrich. Tortured, reclusive geniuses. At times the front man and at times the master technician, KG’s versatility is matched only by his defiance of conventional play. Like Yorke’s vocal stylings and songwriting, Garnett’s ability to guard anyone and lead a team to greater defensive heights make them innovations within their games.
Paul Pierce is Eddie Vedder. When he’s on, there’s nobody better. Always appreciated for their live performances, both Pierce and Vedder have built their careers through longevity, learning how to complement their strengths as they age.
Rajon Rondo is half-Prince, half-Andrew Bird. There are only so many virtuosos in this world. Unparalleled creativity and unsurpassed self-assuredness. Though they prefer to keep to themselves off the stage, their peers recognize their greatness, and their fans adore them.
Jason Terry is Babyface. Though you might argue Terry is a Dallas Maverick and less than “Great,” bear with me, he will get a chance over the next few years. With Terry, you know you’re getting something solid every time, and sometimes that bass line behind him adds a bounce to your step. Plus, you know Jet has to be a sentimental fellow.
Still Establishing Their Acts:
Avery Bradley could become Bon Iver. Though they easily might have slipped under the radar, their unique abilities have been given an audience through word of mouth and opportunity. Great on-the-ball defense is like a soaring, reverb-soaked, vocal harmony.
Jeff Green could become Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. Low-key, pulling out great jazz samples, and rhyming in a low-key, understated flow, but hitting you with some memorable lyrics and leaving his mark. Let’s hope Green stays more unified and collected internally than Q-Tip and Fife Dog did.
Former Celtic Greats:
Bob Cousy is John Coltrane. Each listening to the beat of their own drummers from day one. They both saw things nobody else could imagine and both permanently altered the way their games were played because of their magical thinking.
Bill Russell is half-Miles Davis, half-Thelonius Monk. In the way that both improvisational titans never needed a single lyric to get their message across, Russell could beat you without taking a shot. Troubled geniuses ahead of their times.
Sam Jones is Otis Redding. One of the greatest clutch shooters in NBA history and one of the best voices in music history. Clutch scorers have soul, there can be no doubt.
John Havlicek is Dave Brubeck. Soft-spoken brilliance. Blue Rondo a la Turk goes to Hondo.
Jo Jo White is Maceo Parker. Hidden underneath James Brown’s funk, was Jo-Jo’s sweet jumper.
Dave Cowens is George Harrison. Hard-working behind the scenes. George would dive on the floor to keep John and Paul together.
Nate Archibald is Sly from Sly and the Family Stone. Make it funky on those twisting, lefty spin-drives to the hoop.
Larry Bird is Bob Dylan. A vision all his own, that other-worldliness and silent cockiness. You only think you know me.
Kevin McHale is Roger Daltry. As McHale was always in Bird’s shadow, Daltry and The Who were always in the background behind the Beatles and the Stones. Daltry’s voice finds a parallel in McHale’s untouchable post-moves.
Robert Parish is Max Roach. Drumming and rebounding hold a team together, when the shots aren’t falling and the songwriting fails.
Reggie Lewis is Jeff Buckley. Gone too soon.
Al Jefferson is Pete Best. Without his development, we never would have landed KG. Traded before the franchise was resurrected.
Antoine Walker is The Beta Band. Both showed so much promise early on, but that artistic temperament sometimes makes for an inconsistent career. If only Steve Mason had been able to stay in shape.
Ray Allen is R. Kelly. He might be a genius, but he’s made some horrible choices, born out of egomania.
Former Celtic Role-Players:
Eric Williams and Tony Allen, together, are the Funk Brothers. A great rhythm section can be likened to the grittiest, most physical defenders and low-post pump-fakers. Sheer persistence and consistent relentless effort underneath those chart-topping Motown hits. All guts no glory.
David Wesley is Gorkys Zygotic Mynci. A talented and underappreciated player on mediocre teams, the Welsh indie-rockers, an acquired taste with a short career arc, seem to fit.
Brian Scalabrine is Jim O’Rourke. A great studio engineer doesn’t have to play all the instruments, but has to know how they should all sound together, and when to turn the knobs up and down. Chemistry and timely 3s.
Kendrick Perkins is Carl Perkins. Why not?
Walter McCarty plays piano himself.