On this day in Boston Celtics history, former Celtics head coach James “Jim” Francis Xavier O’Brien — son-in-law of Hall of Fame head coach Jack Ramsay — was born in 1952 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
O’Brien, who joined the Celtics franchise along with his boss Rick Pitino, served as an assistant in Boston under the ex-Celtic president of basketball operations for three-and-a-half seasons. His role as an assistant with the Celtics ended when he assumed head coaching duties in the wake of Pitino’s resignation in the middle of the 2000-01 season.
He continued in that role for another three-and-a-half seasons until resigning himself in protest over newly hired general manager Danny Ainge’s decision to move two of his favorite players, Eric Williams and Tony Battie, as part of a roster tear-down.
It also happens to be the birthday of Battie, in an odd coincidence, who joined the Celts in the sophomore season of his career (1998-99) after being drafted by the Denver Nuggets fifth in the 1997 NBA draft.
The former Boston big man struggled early in his career, prompting then-general manager of the Nuggets Dan Issel to refer to him as “El Busto,” but he managed to become a reliable rotation player with the Celtics.
The Dallas, Texas native averaged 6.8 points and 5.9 boards per game over the six seasons he was with Boston.
In 1998, Battie was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams in exchange for Ricky Davis, Michael Stewart, Chris Mihm, and a second-round pick, triggering the resignation of the coach with whom he shares a birthday.
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