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Boston Celtics

This Date in NBA History (June 9): Red Auerbach orchestrates trade to set up 'greatest frontcourt ever' for the 1980s Celtics & more

On June 9th in 1980, on the eve of the 1980 NBA Draft, Red Auerbach set up the greatest frontcourt ever as the core of the Boston Celtics' dynasty in the 1980s.

Then Celtics' General Manager, Auerbach traded the No. 1 overall pick (which would become Rickey Brown) in the 1980 Draft along with the 13th selection (which would become Joe Barry Carroll) to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Robert Parish and the third overall pick in the 1980 Draft.

Parish, a 7'1" center, was the eighth overall pick from the 1976 Draft. A day later, on June 10th, Auerbach selected Kevin McHale with that third overall pick.

Alongside Larry Bird (6th overall pick in 1978 Draft & then reigning ROY), the Celtics assembled what many consider to be the greatest frontcourt in NBA history.

The trio of Bird, McHale, and Parish would play together for a period of 12 years from the 1980-81 season to the 1991-92 season. They were a part of every one of the Celtics' three championships in the 1980s - 1981, 1984, and 1986.

Their 540 regular-season victories as a trio is the second-most in NBA history, only behind the San Antonio Spurs' trio of Tim Duncan Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Barring Larry Bird's All-Star selection in 1980 as a rookie, all of the trio's combined 28 All-Star selections came while playing together.

In fact, barring Bird's rookie year, all of the trio's greatest accolades came while they were teammates.

  • Bird was named MVP for three straight seasons - 1984-86 - and received the Finals MVP in 1984 and 1986.
  • McHale was named Sixth Man of the Year in 1984 and 1985.
  • Bird (3) and McHale (6) made it to multiple All-Defensive Teams.
  • All three players made All-NBA Teams - Parish (2), Bird (10), and McHale (1).
  • All three are inducted into the Hall of Fame - Bird (1998), Parish (2003), and McHale (1999).

All three players have their numbers retired by the Celtics - #33 Bird, #32 McHale, and #00 Parish.

A decade earlier in 2010, TNT analyst Charles Barkley, a former MVP and Hall of Famer who played against this trio for eight of their 12 seasons together, called Bird, McHale and Parish the greatest frontcourt ever.

Other notable events on June 9th

  • In 1985, the Los Angeles Lakers won Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, 111-100 for their ninth title in franchise history. At 38 years old, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was voted Finals MVP unanimously, became the oldest Finals MVP in NBA history.
  • In 1987, Magic Johnson unleashed what he called the "junior junior sky-hook", a weapon he borrowed from the arsenal of his teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the closing seconds of Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. The shot gave the Lakers a 107-106 victory as they went on to win the championship series in six games.
  • In 1995, Robert Horry set the Finals record for steals in a single game with seven as the Houston Rockets defeated the Orlando Magic 117-106 in Game 2 of the Finals. With this win, the Rockets set a then playoff record of seven straight road wins.
  • In 2000, Shaquille O'Neal set the record for most free-throws attempted in a single Finals game with 39. He made 18 of those in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers.
  • In 2012, the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 101-88 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to their second consecutive NBA Finals and third in franchise history. This was the final game of the Celtics' five-year 'Big 3' run with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen playing together.

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