ESPN Boston Hall of Fame
The five inductees to the inaugural class of the ESPN Boston Hall of Fame (with percent of the nearly 50,000 fan votes):
1. Larry Bird (73.8%)
2. Ted Williams (69.0%)
3. Bill Russell (64.0%)
4. Bobby Orr (50.2%)
5. Red Auerbach (46.4%)
And here are the next five, the early favorites for the 2012 Hall class:
Rocky Marciano (24.1%)
Carl Yastrzemski (19.4%)
Ray Bourque (18.0%)
Pedro Martinez (16.2%)
Bob Cousy (12.5%)
Note: The panel considered only players, coaches and executives who are retired or inactive.
• Photo gallery: Meet the Hall of Fame nominees
• Chris Forsberg: About the Boston Hall of Fame
• Howard Bryant: Transformative moments
• Mike Reiss: Saving a spot for Brady & Co.
• Bill Simmons Sr.: Larry Bird tribute
• Gordon Edes: Curious case of Clemens
• Jackie MacMullan: The Buckner moment
• Hot Button: Who's No. 1, Russell or Orr?
• Joe McDonald: O'Reilly was original dirt dog
• Chris Forsberg: Beyond the franchise players
• Media wing: They connect us with games
PANELISTS DEFEND THEIR TOP 5
• Jackie MacMullan: Red did it all
• Howard Bryant: Parcells laid foundation
• Mike Reiss: Boston Sports 101
• Chris Forsberg: Yaz filled Ted's shoes
• Joe McDonald: Cousy a game changer
TEAM-BY-TEAM TOP 5s
• Red Sox: Greats from Cy to Pedro
• Patriots: Bledsoe, Bruschi make list
• Celtics: Plenty to choose from
• Bruins: Orr, Neely lead way
A front-row seat to greatness
'Sports Dad' recalls how Larry Bird's arrival changed everything
By Bill Simmons Sr.
Special to ESPNBoston.com
Editor's note: Bill Simmons Sr. -- the "Sports Dad" -- has had Boston Celtics season tickets for 38 years and enjoyed a first-row seat through the amazing career of Larry Bird, one of the inaugural inductees in the ESPNBoston.com Hall of Fame. Alongside his son, Sports Guy Bill Simmons, Bill Sr. has witnessed the rise, fall and resurgence of the Celtics through the years, and maintains that Bird was the greatest thing that ever happened to the franchise. Here are his reflections on Bird:In our first season as season-ticket holders, the Celtics won the championship. Two years later, in 1976, they won another championship, and my young son, Billy, and I were prepared for an exciting run of basketball history. It didn't quite happen that way. With contract disagreements, poor trades, questionable free-agent signings and retirements, we suddenly found ourselves rooting for losing Celtics teams. These teams of the late '70s, featuring players such as Curtis Rowe and Sydney Wicks, provided few wins, little excitement and questionable effort, and led to waning fan support. In fact, many who formed the fan base of the previous two decades gave up their season tickets, deciding that a return to basketball glory was not in Boston's future. We decided to keep our seats. We would wait for a special player to change our basketball fortunes. We just never expected that Boston would be fortunate enough in 1978 to draft "the Basketball Jesus."