On this day in Boston Celtics history, the team traded champion shooting guard and future team president Danny Ainge to the Sacramento Kings in 1989. The Oregon native had been picked up by the Celtics with the 31st overall pick of the 1981 NBA draft.
But, he was already playing professionally in Major League Baseball and had to be bought out of his baseball contract with the Toronto Blue Jays before he would be able to play for the Celtics. Ainge had been with the Blue Jays for eight seasons, his only pro assignment in any sport up to that point.
The BYU alum won two titles with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 and made his sole All-Star game with Boston the season before he was dealt to the Kings with Brad Lohaus for Joe Kleine and Ed Pinckney.
SACRAMENTO, CA – 1988: Danny Ainge #7 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball during an NBA game at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California in 1988. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
“I think it made a lot of sense and I was excited about it,” shared Ainge many years later in an interview with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.
“Bill Russell was my general manager and he had talked with his good friend KC Jones about me. I was excited to go to Sacramento and after that first year, there was a lot to look forward to in that franchise.”
Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, left, keeps the ball away from the attempted steal by Jerry Sichting of the Boston Celtics, right, in the first period of their NBA game in Boston Garden, April 3, 1987. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)
It is also the date of a trade that sent Celtics reserve guard Jerry Sichting to the Portland Trail Blazers for combo guard Jim Paxson a year to the day earlier in 1988.
Sichting had played parts of three seasons with Boston — winning a title with them in 1986 — between 1985 and 1988, while Paxson also lasted three seasons, but won no titles with it being the waning years of the Larry Bird/Kevin McHale/Robert Parish era.
It is also the birthday of big man Darren Tillis, who was born on this day in Dallas, Texas in 1960.
Drafted by the Celtics out of Cleveland State in 1982, Tillis played just 15 games with Boston before he would be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Scott Wedman.
Tillis averaged 1.1 points per game with the Celtics.
Today is also the birthday of point guard Mal Graham, born today in 1945, the White Plains native was drafted by Boston with the 11th overall pick of the 1967 NBA draft.
The NYU alum played two seasons for the Celtics, winning a title in a reserve role in 1968 and 1969 before retiring due to injury for a promising career in law.
He averaged 4.7 points, 1.7 boards, and 1.1 assists per game with Boston.
Finally, it is also the day former Celtics owner Louis Pieri was born in 1897.
Previously the owner of the (defunct) Providence Steamrollers before that team went under, Pieri was a minority owner of the Celtics from 1950 to 1964, later selling his interests to the Ruppert Knickerbocker Brewing Company.
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