Throwback Thursday - Kevin McHale
Kevin Edward McHale was born December 19, 1957. Entering the 1980 NBA Draft, the Celtics held the number one overall pick, but in a pre-draft trade, considered by many to be among the most lopsided in NBA history, Celtics president Red Auerbach dealt the pick and an additional first-round pick to the Golden State Warriors for center Robert Parish and the Warriors' first-round pick, the third overall, which the Celtics used to draft McHale.
In the playoffs, the Celtics swept the Chicago Bulls in the first round. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics faced a 3–1 deficit against the Philadelphia 76ers; but Boston won the last three games of the series, including Game 6 on Philadelphia's home court. McHale helped save the Game 6 win by rejecting an Andrew Toney shot and corralling the rebound with 16 seconds left to protect the Celtics' one-point lead. In the NBA Finals, Boston defeated the Houston Rockets in six games to capture the team's fourteenth championship.
The Celtics failed to advance to the NBA Finals the next two seasons. Philadelphia exacted a measure of revenge in the 1982 Eastern Conference Final, beating Boston at home in the seventh game. In the 1983 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Celics were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. This embarrassing defeat led to the firing of head coach Bill Fitch and a temporarily unhappy McHale.
The Celtics acquired former NBA Most Valuable Player Bill Walton in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers in September 1985, and added the 6 ft 11 in (211 cm) center to its already-formidable frontline. Boston sent Cedric Maxwell to the Clippers to complete the trade, clearing the way for McHale to move into a full-time starting role. McHale averaged better than 20 points per game for the first time in his career (21.3) and finished thirteenth in the NBA Most Valuable Player voting.
He joined starters Bird, Parish, Johnson and Danny Ainge as the Celtics steamrolled the NBA with a league-best 67–15 record. The team set a then-NBA record by finishing with an 82–18 win-loss record (including playoffs), breaking the record of 81 victories by the 1971–72 Lakers.
McHale was a part of what many consider the league's best-ever frontline with small forward Larry Bird and center Robert Parish. The trio of Hall of Famers became known as the "Big Three" and led the Celtics to five NBA Finals appearances and three NBA championships, in 1981, 1984 and 1986. For the first five years of his career McHale primarily came off the bench for the Celtics, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1984 and 1985.
Possessing a wide variety of offensive moves close to the basket the agile, long-armed McHale played in seven National Basketball Association All-Star Games between 1984 and 1991. McHale's finest season came in 1986–87 when he was named to the All-NBA First Team as a forward. He led the NBA in field goal percentage in 1987 and 1988, shooting 60.4 percent each season. Also a standout defensive player, McHale was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times. He twice blocked nine shots in a game, the most ever by a Boston Celtics' player (blocked shots did not become an official NBA statistic until the 1974 season).
In 971 regular season games McHale averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds and in 169 post-season games averaged 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.
At the end of the 2007–2008 season McHale ranked tenth in NBA history in career field goal percentage (55.4%), and he is among the Celtics' career leaders in several categories, including games played, points scored and rebounding.
McHale's number 32 jersey was retired by the Celtics on January 30, 1994, during a halftime ceremony at the Boston Garden.
He was chosen one of the NBA's 50 greatest players and was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.
In 1992, McHale was elected to the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.