The Boston Celtics are a team as old as the NBA itself and so it is only natural that players from the Celts roster have won gold at the Olympics. The team has won 17 championships over the duration of its existence and boasts of six players to have won the gold medal at the Olympic games.
The United States of America has won its fourth consecutive gold in Olympic basketball. Playing against France, a team they had lost to at the start of the tournament, Team USA showed their strength on the court. They defeated France with relative comfort and dismantled the French defense with their aggressive offensive plays.
6 Boston Celtics players who have won a gold at the Olympics
Today, in celebration of Team USA's utter dominance in the Olympic games and the legacy of the Boston Celtics, and its contribution to the game of basketball, we will list six players from the Celts that have won a gold medal.
#1 Clyde Lovelette (1952)
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame star played for the Boston Celtics for two seasons. During his time with the Greens, he won two NBA Championships and averaged 6.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Clyde is one of only two players to have won a ring with the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers.
Clyde was a dominant player in his prime. A 6' 9" center, he was an efficient close range shooter and had a lethal hook shot. During his Olympic gold medal run, the Boston Celtics star met the gold-hungry Soviet Union in the finals after defeating Argentina in the semis. In a slow-paced, low scoring finals game, the game clock read 36-25 in Team USA's favor and Clyde Lovelette won his only Olympic gold.
#2 K.C. Jones (1956)
The legend of K.C. Jones in the medieval world would have motivated minstrels to write songs about his victories. As a Boston Celtics point-guard, Jones won 8 consecutive NBA Championship rings. As an assistant coach, he won one. As a head coach, he won two. They are all with Celts.
His proficiency as a lockdown guard was unrivaled. He'd stick to players like a magnet to the fridge, forcing them to make mistakes and lose possession. He was the epitome of a support player. Nothing mattered to him more than winning. His tip-toe antics while stealing and his winning mentality while playmaking were the underappreciated superpower of the Boston Celtics during his career.
At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Team USA, with Jones on its roaster, won all of its games to take home the gold medal. They fought against Uruguay in the semis and won 101-38. In the finals, Jones met a Soviet Union team wounded by a nine-point loss in the 1952 Olympics. They were beaten again by the American players. The scorecard at the end of the game read 89-55.
#3 Bill Russell (1956)
If K.C. Jones was the shadow of the 50s and 60s Boston Celtics, Bill Russell was the light. The 6' 10" center was a devil under the paint. In his debut season for the Celts, Russell averaged 19.6 rebounds and 14.7 points per game and won his first championship in his second season. From 1959 to 1960, he won eight consecutive rings with the Boston Celtics.
The five-time MVP won 11 championships in his NBA career and averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds per game. He is widely regarded as the greatest defensive player of all time. His dominance around the bucket was scary. He could swat high arching balls with ease and collect all boards.
During the 1956 Olympics, Bill Russell-led Team USA dominated the tournament. The team won every game with an average winning margin of 53.5 and Bill Russell won the coveted Olympic gold medal.
#4 Jo Jo White (1968)
Jo Jo White is perhaps the most loyal Boston Celtics player. His love for the Greens went beyond the ten seasons he played with them. He continued to stay connected with the team and its players. He worked as the Director of Special Projects for the Boston Celtics from 2000 until the time of his tragic demise in 2018.
While playing for the Celtics, Jo Jo averaged 18.3 points per game and led the team in assists four times. He won the championship ring twice, first in 1974 and the second in 1976. The seven-time All-Star player also won the Finals MVP during the Boston Celtics' 1975-76 championship run.
He is one of the only 6 players in the history of the Boston Celtics to have won an Olympic gold medal. During the 1968 Mexico Olympic games, White and Team USA beat Brazil by a 12 point difference in the semi-finals. They met SFR Yugoslavia in the finals and bested their opponents by a 15 point margin.
#5 Larry Bird (1992)
The great Larry Bird needs no introduction. He is one of the NBA celebrities who goes to any room anywhere in the world and is immediately revered. His legacy has roots as deep as the game itself. The Boston Celtics legend is a player who personified the dreams and hopes of his team, willing them to come true through him.
If you had watched Larry's games, you could almost see the distinct aura that surrounded him. An aura that reeked of competitiveness, of winning. In his debut season for the Boston Celtics, Bird averaged 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game and won the rookie of the year award. His rivalry with Magic Johnson holds a legendary status in the NBA history books.
During his career with the Boston Celtics, Bird would go on to average 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. He also won three consecutive MVP titles, two Finals MVPs, and three NBA Championship rings.
In 1992, Larry Bord joined forces with the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Magic Johnson to form what is known as the Dream Team. Before the 1992 Barcelona games, NBA players were not allowed to play in the Olympics. This was the first match when the superstars of basketball could come together and form a super team.
The Dream Team, including the Boston Celtics legend, would go on to bulldoze every other team in the tournament. On their run to win gold, Larry and Team USA defeated Lithuania by a margin of 51 points in the semis and Croatia by a margin of 32 points in the finals. After winning his first and only Olympic gold, Larry retired as a Boston Celtics player.
#6 Jayson Tatum (2021)
In his career with the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum has averaged 19.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. His ability to score at will and the skill set to support that will make him an exceptional player. He is definitely a star in the making with a bright future in the league.
Tatum began his career with the Celts in 2017 as the third overall pick. He has performed exceptionally well for the Greens and is steadily becoming a lethal scorer. He can shoot from the three-point perimeter, score from mid-range jumpers, drive to the paint, and reject shots from the opponents. Jayson Tatum scored 60 points in a game against the San Antonio Spurs to tie with Larry Bird as Celtic's highest points scorer in a game.
Tatum competed in his first Olympic tournament this year. Team USA had a rocky start after losing to France on the Olympics' basketball opening day. However, Team USA collected themselves and went on to defeat France in the finals to take home the prestigious Olympic gold. That took the tally of Boston Celtics players to have won an Olympic gold to six.