Top 5 NBA teams of all time- #1: 1985-86 Boston Celtics


When the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged together to form the National Basketball Association in 1946, the league consisted of only 17 teams. Now, almost eighty years later, there are thirty. Through all of these years, the NBA has had its ups and downs, but one thing has always remained the same: the dominance of the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are tied with the Lakers for most championships with 17. However, I like to think that the Celtics should be alone in that column because the Lakers’ most recent championship came in 2020, the year of COVID-19 and the NBA bubble. The Lakers may have earned the trophy that year, but should this really count? Either way, it doesn’t matter because this is the only conversation in which the Lakers can even compete with the Celtics. The Celtics are the best NBA franchise of all time.

Now that I have established that the Celtics are the greatest of all time, let’s take a look at some of their great teams. During the 13-year period from 1957-1969, the Celtics won 11 championships. During the 1980s, they added 3 more. Then, in 2008 when Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett teamed up, the team won its most recent. But out of their many championship teams, one ranks above them all: the 1985-86 squad. Not only do they rank as the best Boston team, but they are the best NBA team ever assembled. Period.

When a team consists of five future hall of famers, it’s hard to believe that they could ever lose. Luckily for the 1985-86 Celtics, they rarely did. After losing in the finals the previous year, the team went 67-15 during the regular season and 15-3 in the playoffs en route to its title. Injuries infested this talented group, and I firmly believe that had it not been for crucial injuries in crucial times, it would have never lost a game.

The 1985-1986 Celtics roster was a thing of beauty. Every single name on the roster is someone who is well-known and respected in the world of basketball. The starting five consisted of Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, Larry Bird, Kevin Mchale, and Robert Parish. Danny Ainge, now the Director of Basketball Operations for the Celtics, was a solid and reliable point guard who got the ball to where it needed to be. Dennis Johnson was another tough, determined player who prided himself on hustle plays and getting stops on defense. Kevin Mchale and Robert Parish held their own down low and were rebounding machines.

To hold the team together, the starting five was built around Larry Bird, nicknamed Larry Legend. He was so good that despite being right-handed, he once scored 49 points while shooting with his left. Bird is in the talk for the greatest three point shooter of all time, the greatest trash talker of all time, and the most clutch player of all time. Larry was the glue of this Boston team. When the team needed a bucket, he would get it. He knew the game better than anyone on the floor. On top of this, he displayed qualities of leadership that were never before seen. He was kind and encouraging but wasn’t afraid to scold someone if need be.

The Boston starting five was incredibly tough and probably could have won a championship with no additional help. However, coming off of the bench, Boston added hall of famer and all-star Bill Walton–the NBA sixth man of the year that season–, Jerry Sichting, Scott Wedman, and many more notable names. Any single player on the roster could have been taken somewhere else and been a star on that team. Despite this, none of them cared because they knew that they were a part of something great.

To this day, Bill Walton talks about the greatness of the 1985-86 Celtics. In a 2020 interview, he was quoted, saying, “We had a great team, and we loved each other, we loved the way we played and we knew we could get the job done. We’ll take our chances. We’ll take our chances anywhere against anybody, anytime. We had it all. We had size, strength, power, finesse, skill, discipline, talent.”

The argument about the best NBA team of all time will probably never be settled, and it is up to you to make your own decision. However, I stand behind my choice that the 1985-86 Boston Celtics was the greatest group of basketball players assembled-ever.

However, if you aren’t satisfied with my rationale or you just want to learn more about this special team, check out this video: