On this day: Giddens debut; Rajon Rondo, Gene Kaftan born; Dennis Johnson passes

On this day in Boston Celtics history, small forward Justin Ray “J.R” Giddens made his debut for the team in 2009.

Picked up by the Celtics with the 30th overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft out of the University of New Mexico, Giddens would spend much of his first season with the defending champions. He played for the team’s developmental affiliate at that time — the Utah Flash — in the D League (as the G League was known at that time)). The Oklahoma City native would play his first minutes at the NBA level came in a 128-108 win over the Phoenix Suns on the road.

Giddens went scoreless in a minute and a half of play.


It is also the date of champion Celtic center Robert Parish scoring 26 points and 17 rebounds against the (then) New Jersey (now, Brooklyn) Nets in 1991 on 11-of-13 shooting in 41 minutes of playing time.

It helped push the Celtics to a 111-99 win at the old Boston Garden, buttressed with a 26-point, 11 assists performance to put the team at 40-13.

Larry Bird
(AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

It is also the anniversary of a 95-93 win over the New York Knicks in 1988 at the old Boston Garden secured with a big night by legendary Boston forward Larry Bird.

The Hick from French Lick scored 36 points and 14 rebounds on 13-of-27 shooting (including hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the arc) over 44 minutes of playing time.

Rajon Rondo
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Today is the day that Rajon Rondo was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1986. Playing his college ball at his hometown UK, Rondo would be drafted by the Phoenix Suns and dealt to the Celtics on the night of the draft.

Rondo would play parts of 9 seasons with Boston, winning a title in 2008 and wracking up 3 assists and a steals champion seasons with the team along with 2007 All-Rookie, 2012 All-NBA, and 4 All-Defensive teams before he would be dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

He shares that birthday with big man Dennis Awtrey, who played 23 games for the Celtics in the 1978-79 after being dealt there by the Phoenix Suns.

Born in Hollywood, CA in 1948 and playing collegiately at Santa Clara, Awtrey logged 2.2 points and 2.0 boards per game with Boston before he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics (now, Oklahoma City Thunder).

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The pair share their birthday with forward George Kaftan born in New York City exactly 20 years earlier.

The Holy Cross alum played his first two seasons in the league for Boston after being selected 4th overall in the draft, recording 11.0 points and 2.7 assists per contest over that stretch.

Dennis Johnson Celtics
(Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports)

Finally, it is also the day we lost Dennis Johnson to a heart attack in 2007.

The Hall of Fame Celtics floor general won two of his three NBA titles helming the point for Boston (1984 and 1986) as well as countless other team and individual accolades.

Averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 boards, and 6.4 assists per game with the Celtics, Johnson is widely seen as among the more underrated Celtics — and for that matter, players — in NBA history. Rest in peace.

Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire