Right place, right time
SOMETIMES you don’t need to be an outstanding player to win a championship in team sports.
You don’t have to be very talented so long as you have a star athlete or two for a teammate.
You only need to be lucky and be in the right place at the right time.
Vagabond frontliner Cris Bolado easily comes to mind. The roly-poly Bolado from the Beau Belga factory captured numerous championships in the local professional league with nine teams from 19942003.
In the 71-year history of the U.S. National Basketball Association, there are several marginal players (or so-called “role” players) from the Boston Celtics that earned title rings by simply hopping onto the broad shoulders of alltime great Bill Russell during his storied 13-year pro tenure from 1956-57 through 1968-69.
Chief of the lot was rugged James (Jim) Loscutoff Jr., a menacing enforcer who endeared himself to the Celtic Nation with his defensive tenacity and hard-driving physical moves. He was known as the Hub City squad’s hatchetman who did all the dirty jobs inside the paint.
A 6-foot-5 power forward, “Jungle Jim” or “Loscy” snared six NBA championships in 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964 with the Green. He sat out the 1960 playoffs – which also produced an NBA crown for the Celtics – due to an injury.
Loscutoff, who was born in San Francisco, California of Russian parents, registered pedestrian averages of 6.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.7 assist in 511 regular games during his entire nineyear career with Boston from 1955-64.
If it were any big deal, Loscy as a second-year pro knocked in the final two free throws in the Celts’ 125-123 doubleovertime success against the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks in the deciding Game 7 of the 1957 NBA Finals at the now-defunct Boston Garden that gave the Green its first of 17 NBA championships.
After calling it quits in 1964, the Celtics organization sought to honor Loscutoff but he asked that his jersey number (18) not be retired so that a future Celtics player could wear it. Instead, Boston added a banner with his nickname “Loscy” to the banners of retired numbers hanging from the rafters of the Boston Garden (then to the current TD Garden). The No. 18 was eventually retired in honor of Hall of Famer Dave Cowens.
Loscy died on December 1, 2015 at the age of 85.
How lucky Loscutoff was in comparison to fellow Celtic products Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, both Hall of Famers who won only three titles each in 1981, 1984 and 1986 as teammates.
Even William Walton (Bill) Sharman snared only four rings with Boston in 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1961.
Sharman is one of four two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees (the others are John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens and Tommy Heinsohn), turning in the trick in 1976 as a player (Boston) and in 2004 as a head coach (having steered the L.A. Lakers to a 69-13 record during the 1971-72 regular season and subsequently rewarding the franchise with its first NBA crown since moving out of Minneapolis in 1960).
For the record, Russell is the winningest player in NBA history with 11 championships in 12 trips to the Finals.