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On this day in Boston Celtics history, former head coach and team president Rick Pitino was hired as head coach and general manager of the team in 1997. He had previously coached at the NBA level as a moderately successful head coach of the New York Knicks between 1987 and 1989, and most recently at Kentucky in the NCAA ranks.
His tenure with the Celtics went considerably worse, with the pressure to return to greatness after the longest losing streak in team history undoubtedly a factor in the several questionable ‘win-now’ decisions made by Pitino.The New Yorker would throw in the towel after four seasons with the franchise, amassing a 102 – 146 record in the regular season, good for a .411 winning percentage.
He never made the postseason in his role as team president and head coach.
21 Nov 1997: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Boston Celtics (left) talks to his guard Ron Mercer during a game against the New Jersey Nets at the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics won the game 101-93. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire /Allsport
It is also the date of Dennis Johnson's last game with the Celtics, in 1990. The game was against the New York Knicks, a Game 5 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals that had Boston finishing with a 121 - 114 loss. Johnson scored 21 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in the final game of his career, as the Californian retired after the loss. The Pepperdine product played the last seven seasons of his career with the Celtics, averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 boards and 6.4 assists with the team.
(Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports)
Today is former Boston shooting guard Oliver Lafayette's birthday, who had the briefest of Celtics tenures. He appeared in exactly one game after signing a rest-of-season contract with the team in April, 2010, scoring 7 points.
Boston Celtics' Oliver Lafayette drives around Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, July 6, 2010.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
The 1968 NBA Expansion draft was held today, in which Boston lost several players of note to help populate the rosters of the newly-formed Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. All three players taken from the Celtics were drafted by the Bucks, starting with wing Tom Thacker.
Unknown date; Cincinnati, OH, USA: FILE PHOTO; Cincinnati Royals forward Tom Hawkins (20) grabs a rebound with guard Oscar Robertson and forward Tom Thacker (25) against the Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons- USA TODAY Sports
A former NCAA and NBA champion with Cincinnati and Boston respectively, Thacker chose to play in the ABA instead of reporting to Milwaukee, winning an ABA championship with the Indiana Pacers. Thacker averaged 4.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in his sole season with the Celtics.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The second player taken was forward Johnny Jones, who played just one season with Boston, winning a ring on the 1967-68 squad. Like Thacker, Jones chose the ABA instead of reporting to the Bucks, signing with the Kentucky Colonels instead. He averaged 4.2 points, 2.2 boards and 0.5 assists with the Celtics in that single season.
Unknown date; Cincinnati, OH, USA; FILE PHOTO; Boston Celtics center Bill Russell (6) battles against Cincinnati Royals center Wayne Embry (15) at Cincinnati Gardens. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Finally, the Celtics also lost big man Wayne Embry, a former five-time All-Star who also had won a ring with Boston in the 1967-68 NBA season. Embry was the sole player of the three to report to Milwaukee, for whom he would play one season more before retiring permanently. He averaged 5.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game with the Celtics.
Former Boston Celtics forward Kevin McHale, left, jokes with former Georgetown coach John Thompson, right, and UCLA coach Billie Moore, center. McHale, Moore, Thompson, Wayne Embry and Fred Zollner are scheduled to enshrined during a ceremony Friday evening. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
On this day in 1965, the NBA Draft was held in New York City, and Boston selected two players of note. The fist was forward Ron Watts, drafted out of Wake Forest with the 17th overall pick of the draft.
https://twitter.com/HonestLarry1/status/1263446729812312064?s=20 Watts would play just two seasons for the Celtics, technically winning a banner with the team in his rookie season despite only playing one game for Boston that year. Watts averaged 1.4 points, as many rebounds and 0.1 assists per game in the 28 games he played for the Celtics between 1965 and 1967.
https://twitter.com/UConnMBB/status/859613872201879552 The other player taken by Boston was former UConn Huskies big man Toby Kimball, who played just one season with the club in 1966-67. Just under a year later, he would be taken from the franchise in the 1967 expansion draft by the (then) San Diego (now, Houston) Rockets, where he had the most success of his career. He would record 2.6 points, 3.8 boards and 0.3 assists per contest with the Celtics.
Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett gestures to the crowd just before tipoff of Game 1 of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston, Tuesday, May 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
It is also the anniversary of three playoff wins since the season of Boston's last title in 2007-08. The first was a 76 - 72 Game 1 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008, LeBron James' first postseason run-in with the Celtics far from a success from his perspective. Though Paul Pierce and Ray Allen had subpar games with a combined total of 4 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, they still managed to contain a young James to 12 points, 9 boards and as many assists to secure the victory.
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James wipes his face during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA Eastern Conference semifinal basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Boston on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston was led by 28 points and 8 rebounds from Kevin Garnett, and point guard Rajon Rondo added 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, and guard Sam Cassell chipped in 13 from the bench. "This was two heavyweights, just body-punching," said Garnett via ESPN. "There was no finesse, no jabs, just an all-out, beat-down, defensive fight."
Boston Celtics' Eddie House (50) celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer against the Orlando Magic in the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series in Boston Wednesday, May 6, 2009. House scored a career-high 31 points in the 112-94 Celtics' victory. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
In 2009, the Celtics blew out the Orlando Magic 112 - 94 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals behind a triple-double from Rondo. He led Boston with 15 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Allen added 26 points and 6 rebounds and center Kendrick Perkins put up 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a towel next to his, wife Ann, before an NBA first-round playoff series basketball game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks in Boston, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Finally, in 2012 the Celtics crushed the Atlanta Hawks 101-79 in Game 4 of the East's first round. The win came despite both Pierce and Allen playing under 20 minutes, led by the latter's 24 points and Rondo's 20 points and 16 assists.
"Their team set the tone from the jump ball and we weren't able to recover," said future Celtic big man Al Horford via the Associated Press. "It's disappointing for us to lose this way, but the good thing is we're going back home."
It did not help that Hawks' fortunes, with Boston eventually winning the series four games to two. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=49928,49912,49907,49902] [listicle id=49914]