On this day in Boston Celtics history, former Celtics small forward Fred Saunders signed with the team as a free agent in 1976. Saunders played his college ball with the Syracuse Orangemen before being drafted in the second round with the 31st pick in the 1974 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns.
Chocolate Thunder — as he was sometimes called — played for the Suns for two full seasons before joining Boston, with which he played just two seasons, averaging a total of 5.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1 assist over 13.8 minutes per game with the franchise over that stretch.
He was dealt to the New Orleans Jazz for draft assets in 1978. He played 30 games before being waived in his final stop in the NBA.
Head coach Bill Fitch resigned on this day in 1983 after four seasons as the team’s head coach. He won an NBA championship in 1981.
Being swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals the season prior was likely a factor, as was the sale of the team by owner Harry Mangurian.
Legendary general manager Red Auerbach stepping into a more advisory role was another.
“Without Harry being here, and with Red having said he won’t be here for another five years and eat Chinese food with me, a change is good,” said Fitch (via the New York Times).
In 1985, Celtics small forward Scott Wedman hit four 3-pointers without missing, going 11-for-11 from the floor overall as Boston crushed the Los Angeles Lakers, 148-114, in Game 1 of that year’s NBA Finals.
The Celtics’ 148 points and 62 field goals in what has been called the “Memorial Day Massacre” remain NBA Finals records.
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