Top 11 Must-Have Boston Celtics Basketball Cards For Every Fan’s Collection

The Boston Celtics are looking to reclaim the crown as the best team in the NBA as they look to capture their 18th overall championship. Beginning June 6, the Celtics will be facing the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. It’s the second Finals appearance for Celtics superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics fell to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Celtics fans have numerous legends and All-Stars to collect. From Bill Russell, to Larry Bird, to Tatum, there’s a player from every generation to add to your collection. HobbyListings takes a look at the top 11 Celtics basketball cards to add to your collection. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Boston Celtics Basketball Cards

1. 1957 Topps Bill Russell Rookie Card #77

1957 Topps Bill Russell rookie card
1957 Topps Bill Russell rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Bill Russell is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Known for his incredible defensive skills and rebounding ability, Russell led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1975 and then as a coach in 2021.

2. 1980 Topps Larry Bird Rookie Card #34

1980 Topps Larry Bird rookie card
1980 Topps Larry Bird rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Larry Bird’s rookie card, shared with Magic Johnson and Julius Erving, is iconic and captures the essence of the NBA’s golden era. Bird, one of the greatest shooters and forwards in basketball history, led the Celtics to three NBA championships in the 1980s. He was a three-time MVP and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.

3. 1969 Topps John Havlicek Rookie Card #20

1969 Topps John Havlicek rookie card
1969 Topps John Havlicek rookie card. (credit: eBay)

John Havlicek, one of the franchise’s most versatile players, was a key player in eight Celtics’ championship teams. He is remembered for his famous steal in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals and is one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. Havlicek was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

4. 1957 Topps Bob Cousy Rookie Card #17

1957 Topps Bob Cousey rookie card
1957 Topps Bob Cousey rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Bob Cousy, known as “The Houdini of the Hardwood,” revolutionized the point guard position with his ball-handling skills and playmaking ability. He led the Celtics to six NBA championships and was the league’s MVP in 1957. Cousy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

5. 1998 Topps Chrome Paul Pierce Rookie Card #135

1998 Topps Chrome Paul Pierce rookie card
1998 Topps Chrome Paul Pierce rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Paul Pierce, known as “The Truth,” was the face of the Celtics for over a decade after being drafted out of the University of Kansas 10th overall in 1998. He led the team to an NBA championship in 2008 and was named Finals MVP. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.

6. 1981 Topps Kevin McHale Rookie Card #75

1981 Topps Kevin McHale rookie card
1981 Topps Kevin McHale rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Kevin McHale, known for his exceptional low-post play and defensive skills, was one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. He was a key part of the Celtics’ championship teams in the 1980s and a seven-time All-Star. McHale was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

7. 1961 Fleer Sam Jones Rookie Card #23

1961 Fleer Sam Jones rookie card
1961 Fleer Sam Jones rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Sam Jones, known for his clutch shooting, won ten NBA championships with the Celtics, the second-most in NBA history behind only his teammate Bill Russell. Jones was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

8. 1971 Topps Dave Cowens Rookie Card #47

1971 Topps Dave Cowens rookie card
1971 Topps Dave Cowens rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Dave Cowens, one of the most versatile centers of his era, was known for his intensity, rebounding, and all-around play. He led the Celtics to two NBA championships and was the league’s MVP in 1973. Cowens was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

9. 1977 Topps Robert Parish Rookie Card #93

1977 Topps Robert Parish rookie card
1977 Topps Robert Parish rookie card. (credit: eBay)

Nicknamed “The Chief,” Robert Parish manned the middle during the Celtics’ 1980s dynasty with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. His matchups against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals are legendary.

10. 2017 National Treasures Jayson Tatum Rookie Patch Autograph Card #103

2017 Panini National Treasures Jayson Tatum Rookie Patch Autograph
2017 Panini National Treasures Jayson Tatum Rookie Patch Autograph. (credit: eBay)

Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ young superstar, has now led the Celtics to two NBA Finals appearances. Tatum, the third-overall pick out of Duke University in the 2017 NBA Draft, is a five-time All-Star in seven seasons.

11. 2016 Panini National Treasures Jaylen Brown Rookie Patch Autograph #104

2016 Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph
2016 Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph. (credit: eBay)

Jaylen Brown, a three-time All-Star, was drafted third-overall in 2016. Brown has formed a dominant one-two duo with Tatum in their seven seasons together.

History of the Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics, one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history, have a rich tradition that spans over several decades. Known for their winning culture and iconic players, the Celtics’ history is a chronicle of basketball excellence.

The Early Years: Building a Dynasty (1946-1956)

  • Inception: Founded in 1946 as one of the original eight NBA teams, the Celtics struggled initially but laid the groundwork for future success.
  • Red Auerbach’s Arrival in 1950: The hiring of coach Red Auerbach marked a turning point. His vision and leadership would eventually turn the Celtics into a powerhouse.

The Bill Russell Era: A Legacy of Championships (1956-1969)

  • Drafting Bill Russell in 1956: The acquisition of Bill Russell, one of the greatest defenders and winners in sports history, catapulted the Celtics into an era of dominance.
  • A String of Championships: Under Russell, the Celtics won an unprecedented 11 championships in 13 years, including a remarkable eight straight from 1959 to 1966.

Key Players

  • Alongside Russell, players like Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, and John Havlicek played pivotal roles in the team’s success.

The 1970s: New Stars, Continued Success

  • John Havlicek’s Leadership: Havlicek continued to be a central figure for the Celtics, leading them to championships in 1974 and 1976.
  • Dave Cowens: The versatile big man played a key role in the Celtics’ 1970s success, known for his hustle and all-around skills.

The Larry Bird Era: Revitalizing the Celtics Legacy (1980s)

  • Drafting Larry Bird in 1978: The arrival of Larry Bird marked a new era of Celtics dominance. Bird’s rivalry with Magic Johnson and the Lakers defined the 1980s.
  • Three Championships (1981, 1984, 1986): Led by Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, the Celtics added three more titles to their illustrious history.
  • Len Bias Death: Bias was supposed to take over the mantle from Bird after being drafted second overall by the Celtics in 1986. Two days after the NBA Draft, Bias died of a cocaine overdose at the age of 22.

The 1990s and Early 2000s: A Period of Rebuilding

  • Reggie Lewis’s Tragic Death (1993): The untimely passing of star player Reggie Lewis was a significant blow to the franchise.
  • Rebuilding Efforts: The Celtics struggled to recapture their former glory, undergoing several rebuilding phases.

The Big Three Era and Beyond (2007-Present)

  • A New Big Three (2007): The formation of a new Big Three – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen – led to an NBA championship in 2008.
  • Continued Success: The Celtics have remained competitive, with players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the franchise to two NBA Finals appearances.

Legacy and Impact

  • Winning Tradition: The Celtics hold the record for the most NBA Championships at 17, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • Cultural Impact: Beyond their on-court success, the Celtics have been significant in promoting team basketball and have been a key part of NBA’s global growth.
  • Iconic Players: The franchise has seen many of the greatest players in NBA history don the iconic green and white, leaving a lasting legacy in the basketball world.

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