The Boston Celtics are an American professional basketball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, playing in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team is owned by Wycliffe Grousbeck and coached by Doc Rivers, with Danny Ainge as the general manager. Founded in 1946, their 17 NBA Championships are the most for any NBA franchise, while the 1959-to-1966 domination of the NBA Championship, with eight straight titles, is the longest consecutive championship winning streak of any North American professional sports team to date. They currently play their home games in the TD Banknorth Garden.
The Celtics either dominated the league or played a large part in the playoffs in the late 1950s through the mid 1980s. After the death of their top draft pick Len Bias, just two days after the 1986 NBA Draft, the team fell into a steady decline, only making the playoffs four times from 1996 to 2007. The franchise has recently returned to prominence with the acquisition of power forward Kevin Garnett and shooting guard Ray Allen during the 2007 off-season. On June 17, 2008, the Boston Celtics won their 17th championship, by beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 4-2 in the 2008 NBA Finals .
- For details, see: History of the Boston Celtics
1946–1956: The building of a dynastyEdit
The Celtics were formed in 1946 as a team in the Basketball Association of America, and became part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the merger of the BAA and the National Basketball League to form the NBA in the fall of 1949. In 1950, the Celtics became the first franchise to draft an African American player, signing Chuck Cooper.
The Celtics had struggled during their early years, until the hiring of Coach Red Auerbach. One of the first major players to join the Celtics was Bob Cousy, whom Auerbach initially refused to draft. Cousy eventually became the property of the Chicago Stags. When that franchise went bankrupt, Cousy was acquired by the Celtics in a dispersal draft.
After the 1955–56 season, Auerbach made a stunning trade. He sent perennial All-Star Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks along with the draft rights to Cliff Hagan in exchange for the Hawks' first round draft pick, the second overall. After negotiating with the Rochester Royals, Auerbach used the pick to select University of San Francisco center Bill Russell. Auerbach also acquired Holy Cross standout, and 1957 NBA Rookie of the Year, Tommy Heinsohn. Russell and Heinsohn worked extraordinarily well with Cousy, and they were the players around whom Auerbach would build the Celtics for more than a decade. Russell, who delayed joining until the middle of the 1957 season in order to play for the U.S. Olympic Team, In 1958, the Celtics again advanced to the NBA Finals, this time losing to the Hawks in 6 games. However, with the acquisition of K.C. Jones that year, the Celtics began a dynasty that would last for more than a decade. In 1959, with Cousy at point guard, Russell at center and Heinsohn at forward, the Celtics won the NBA Championship after sweeping the Minneapolis Lakers. Still coached by Auerbach, the Celtics won seven more consecutive championships, extending their streak to eight in a row. During that time, the Celtics met the Lakers in the Finals six times, starting an intense and often bitter rivalry. The Celtics would eventually meet the Lakers a total of 11 times in the NBA Finals. In 1964, Auerbach made the Celtics the first team to have an all African American starting lineup.
After the 1966 championship, Auerbach retired as coach and Russell took over as player-coach. With his appointment, Russell also became the first African American coach in the NBA. Auerbach would remain the General Manager, a position he would hold well into the 1980s. However, that year the Celtics' string of NBA titles was broken as they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The aging team managed two more championships in 1968 and 1969, defeating the Lakers each time in the NBA Finals. Russell retired after the 1969 season, effectively ending a dominant Celtics dynasty that had garnered 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. The streak of 8 consecutive NBA championships is the longest streak of consecutive championships in U.S. professional sports history.
1970–1978: Rebuilding the dynastyEdit
The 1970 season was a rebuilding year, as the Celtics had their first losing record since the 1949–50 season, the year prior to Auerbach's arrival. However, with the acquisition of Dave Cowens, Paul Silas, and Jo Jo White, the Celtics soon became dominant again. After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1972, the Celtics regrouped and came out determined in 1973 and posted an excellent 68–14 regular season record. But the season ended in disappointment, as they were upset in 7 games by the New York Knicks in the Conference Finals and became the team with the best record ever to have failed to make the Finals. The Celtics returned to the playoffs the next year, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals in 1974 for their 12th NBA Championship. The teams split the first four games, and after the Celtics won Game 5 in Milwaukee they headed back to Boston leading three games to two, with a chance to claim the title on their home court. However, the Bucks won Game 6 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nestled in a hook shot with three seconds left in the game's second overtime, and the series returned to Milwaukee. But Cowens was the hero in Game 7, scoring 28 points, as the Celtics brought the title back to Boston for the first time in five years. In 1976, the team won yet another championship, defeating the Phoenix Suns in 6 games. The Celtics advanced to the 1976 NBA Finals, which featured one of the greatest games in the history of the NBA. With the series tied at two games apiece, the Suns trailed early in the Boston Garden, but came back to force overtime. In double overtime, a Gar Heard turn-around jumper at the top of the key sent the game to an unprecedented third overtime, at which point the Celtics prevailed. Tommy Heinsohn coached the team for those two championships. After the 1976 championship and a playoff appearance in 1977, Boston went into another phase of rebuilding.
In the 1977 NBA Draft, the Celtics drafted a young forward from the UNC Charlotte named Cedric Maxwell. Maxwell did not contribute much in his rookie season, but he showed promise. Auerbach's job became even tougher following the 1977–78 season in which they went 32–50 as John Havlicek, the Celtics All-Time leading scorer, retired after 16 seasons.
1979–1992: The Bird yearsEdit
Thanks to a trade and their poor record in 1977–78, the Celtics owned two of the top eight picks in the 1978 NBA Draft. Since the Celtics had two draft choices, Auerbach took a risk and selected junior Larry Bird of Indiana State with the 6th pick, knowing that Bird would elect to remain in college for his senior year. The Celtics would retain his rights for one year, a rule that was later changed, and Auerbach believed that Bird's potential would make him worth the wait. Auerbach also felt that when the college season ended the Celtics would have a great chance to sign Bird. Auerbach was right and Bird signed soon after leading Indiana State to the NCAA Championship game, where they fell to a Michigan State University team that was led by Magic Johnson.
The other important story of the Celtics' 1978–79 season was the ongoing dispute between Auerbach and new owner John Y. Brown. The dispute nearly led Auerbach to resign as General Manager for a position with the New York Knicks. With a penis behind Auerbach, Brown elected to sell the team rather than face the wrath of the city for being the man who drove Red to a hated rival. During his short ownership, Brown orchestrated a trade for Bob McAdoo that Auerbach despised, and the team unraveled. The Celtics would struggle through the season, going 29–53 without Bird. Newcomers Chris Ford, Rick Robey, Cedric Maxwell and Tiny Archibald failed to reverse the team's momentum.
Bird debuted for the Celtics during the 1979–80 season, a year after his selection. With a new owner in place, Auerbach made a number of moves that would bring the team back to prominence. Auerbach traded the unhappy McAdoo, a former NBA scoring champion, to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for guard M. L. Carr, a defensive specialist, and two first-round picks in the 1980 NBA Draft. led by Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s, and by Julius Erving and Moses Malone in the 1970s and 1980s. The Celtics-Sixers rivalry in the 1980s was marked by intense personal confrontations between Larry Bird and Julius Erving. Their most recent playoff rivalry came in the '02 First Round, as then-Sixer Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce, both prolific scorers of their time, went head-to-head.
Another fierce rivalry formed in the 1980s between the Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. The two franchises met in the playoffs 5 times between 1985 and 1991, and more than once there was a physical confrontation between a Celtic and Detroit's Bill Laimbeer. The rivalry, like their rivalry with the Lakers, cooled in the 1990s as the Celtics slid into a long decline, although there was a renewal of interest when the teams met in the 2002 East Semifinals, and later in the 2008 East Finals.
Boston's other fierce rivals included the Atlanta Hawks (dating back to the late 1950s, which resurfaced during the rivalry of Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins, and later in 2008), Milwaukee Bucks (during the mid-1980s), Indiana Pacers (1991–92 and 2003–05; both involved Larry Bird as a player and as an executive), New York Knicks (both were original NBA franchises, and have never moved to another city nor changed its nickname), and New Jersey Nets (2002 and 2003). In addition, the San Antonio Spurs have provided a tough challenge for Boston, especially since adding Tim Duncan with the number one pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Since then, the Spurs racked up 18 straight wins against Boston before the streak was broken on March 17 2007, concomitantly ending a 17-year, 15-game drought in San Antonio.
Individually, Paul Pierce has been developing rivalries on the court with LeBron James and Ron Artest. During games between the Celtics and the Cavaliers, Pierce and James often combine explosive scoring with defensive intensity.
Records, retired numbers and awardsEdit
- Boston Arena (1946), site of the first Celtics game and where the parquet floor was originally installed. Served as a secondary venue during the franchise's early years. Now known as Northeastern University's Matthews Arena.
- Boston Garden (1946–1995)
- Hartford Civic Center (1975–1995), occasionally used for home games.
- TD Banknorth Garden (1995–present), formerly known as Fleet Center (1995–2005).
Current depth chartEdit
|Boston Celtics head coaches|
Logos and uniformsEdit
The Boston Celtics released a new logo for the 1995–96 season, although the depiction of a leprechaun spinning a basketball has been in use since the early 1950s. The logo was originally designed by Zang Auerbach, the brother of Celtics head coach Red Auerbach. The logo has received numerous tweaks over the years; the latest version decorated the leprechaun in a gold vest to celebrate the club's 50th anniversary.
The most familiar version, however, is the one-colored logo used during the Larry Bird era, with the leprechaun traced in black and only green and white clothes, which is still used on some TV networks whenever the current Celtics logo is unavailable or in classic Celtics references. The Celtics also have various alternative logos, with the most popular being a white shamrock with the letters "Celtics" above it, wrapped in a green circle, which has been used since the 1998–99 season.
The Celtics jerseys have always been green on away games and white on home games since their inception in 1946. Except for some minor modifications, most notably the serifed version of the uniforms during the Bill Russell era, the jerseys remained unchanged through the years.
Beginning in 2005–06, the Celtics began using alternate road jerseys which are green with black trim and the word "Boston" on the front side of the jersey. The alternate road jersey was rarely seen with few appearances in its first 2 seasons, but in 2007–08 it has been used much more often, in more than half of the road games.
Also in 2005–06, the Celtics began a tradition of wearing their green jerseys with gold trim as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations the NBA puts into place every third week of March. Except for the words "Boston" in front and the gold trim, the St. Patrick's Day jerseys resemble the regular road jerseys.
During the 2006–07 season, the Celtics wore a commemorative patch of a black shamrock with the nickname "Red" in green letters on the right top of the jersey in remembrance of Red Auerbach, who died shortly prior to the beginning of the season.
During the NBA Europe Live Tour prior to the 2007–08 season, the Celtics used the alternate road jerseys in their game against the Toronto Raptors in Rome, except that the words "Boston" on the front side of the jersey and the shamrock on the shorts and on the reverse side of the jersey contained the green, white and red tricolors of the Italian flag. In the second game in London, the regular road jerseys featured a patch containing the Union Jack.
The team has honored deceased members of the Celtics family with a commemorative black band on the left shoulder strap of the jersey. It has been featured seven times in the history of the franchise: Walter Brown (1964–65), Bob Schmertz (1975–76), Joan Cohen (1989–90), Johnny Most (1993–94), Reggie Lewis (1993–94), Dorothy Auerbach (2000–01) and Dennis Johnson (2006–07).
The team also had the tradition of wearing black sneakers through most of their history, except during the early 1980s when they wore green sneakers. Beginning with the 2003–04 season, the team began to wear white sneakers at home games.
- Walter A. Brown, team founder and original owner (1946–64)
- Marjorie Brown, wife of team founder (1964–1965)
- Marvin Kratter/National Equities (1965–68)
- Ballantine Brewery (1968–69)
- E.E. Erdman's Trans-National Communications (1969–71)
- Investors Funding Corporation (1971–72)
- Robert Schmertz-Leisure Technology (1972–74)
- Robert Schmertz and Irv Levin (1974–75)
- Irv Levin (1975–78)
- John Y. Brown, Jr. and Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. (1978)
- Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. (1979–83)
- Don Gaston, Alan N. Cohen, Paul Dupee (1983–92)
- Paul Gaston (1992–2002)
- Boston Basketball Partners LLC - consisting of Wycliffe Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, and H. Irving Grousbeck (2002–present)
- Official website
- NBA.com – The Ultimate Celtics Page
- Boston Celtics @ Basketball-Reference.com
- Boston Celtics @ Sportsecyclopedia.com
- History of the Boston Celtics
- 2007-08 Downloadable Media Guide
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