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What's in a Name?
The legend of the naming of the team dates back to when the franchise was formed in the summer of 1946. Team founder Walter Brown was an avid hockey man who just happened to fall in love with the sport of basketball. With professional hockey in place, the perceptive Brown could now fill the empty seats at his famous Boston Garden with another winter sport team - professional basketball.
The name seemingly grew out of a conversation between Brown and Howie McHugh, a member of the Garden's publicity staff and the man assigned to handle the basketball entity. Both men suggested several nicknames, including Whirlwinds, Unicorns and Olympics.
But it was Brown, who suddenly exclaimed, "Wait, I've got it - the Celtics. We'll call them the Boston Celtics!" Brown excitedly went on, "The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York. And, Boston is full of Irishmen. We'll put them in green uniforms and call them the Boston Celtics!"
McHugh tried in vain to talk with, negotiate and dissuade Brown not to use the name Celtics, but Brown's mind had clearly reached a final decision and that would be the end of that conversation.
Creation of a Logo
The Boston Celtics logo was designed by Red Auerbach's brother, Zang, in the early 1950's. Zang was a creative and artistic man who assembled the familiar leprechaun with the words Boston Celtics arched around it in a circle.
The world-famous figure has his left eye winking at you, his right hand resting on his shillelagh, his right index finger is pointing straight upward with a brown basketball sitting atop, his left foot crossed over and to the side of the right foot, he possesses a big smile (with a pipe projecting from the right corner of his mouth) and he is dressed in black buckle shoes, black pants, a gold front-button vest with a matching bow tie (with green four-leaf clovers displayed prominently in view on both), a long-sleeved white shirt and all topped off with a black derby hat with the same matching four-leaf clovers.
The words, "Pride", "Mystique", "Tradition", "Teamwork" and the figure of a pint-sized, winking leprechaun leaning on with one arm his shillelagh and hoisting a basketball on his index finger with the other arm, are a few of the ways that fans have come to know the Boston Celtics throughout the years.
A charter member of the Basketball Association of America (which evolved into the National Basketball Association) since 1946, the Boston Celtics have produced a legacy of success that no other professional sports franchise can match.
A glorious history of 16 world championship titles, unselfish, popular and loyal role players, an outdated building with its unique parquet floor, the plethora of classic, jubilant and memorable regular season and playoff games, and a fiery coach, general manager and president who, with his trademark cigar in his mouth, guided and led the charge, Arnold 'Red' Auerbach, summarizes this franchise.
Walter Brown was the man who was responsible for starting this storied franchise. On an early June day in 1946, Brown, who operated the Boston Garden arena and was part of the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins, was the driving force behind the Basketball Association of America and the Celtics birth. Giving life and meaning is never easy. After four losing seasons, Brown, the gentleman and avid sportsman, would eventually mortgage his own house to save the franchise. His stubbornness and persistence paid off. A transformation from the mundane to the magical would unfold.
Brown's dream of winning the championship started to become a reality in 1950 with his hiring of a 32-year old brash firebrand of a head coach who settled for nothing less than excellence. That head coach was Arnold 'Red' Auerbach.
From 1957 to 1969, Red Auerbach, with no assistant coaches or scouts in that day, created and shaped the Boston Celtics, through timely trades and key draft choices, into a team that dominated a league like no other team has ever come close to. When the team captured eleven NBA Championships during the 13-year span, including eight in succession from 1959 to 1966, the franchise had earned the distinction of, "a dynasty."
Over the next three decades, five more NBA Championship banners would be added and would boldly fly from the Boston Garden (now the FleetCenter) rafters.
In the remarkable history of the Boston Celtics, the team has won an unprecedented 76 title banners. The 16 NBA World Championship banners, 17 regular season titles, 19 conference titles and 24 division titles. While winning championships was done by the team-concept method, 22 of the Celtics' players and management responsible for those banners have had their uniform number retired to the arena rafters. Furthermore, 29 former Celtics players, management or staff have been deservedly enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.
The Celtics and the city of Boston have also been the hosts to the greatest showcase of professional basketball talent, as the first two NBA All-Star Games were held in Boston in 1951 and 1952. The annual mid-season extravaganza returned twice more to the city in 1957 and 1964.
"The Celtics aren't a team," Red Auerbach once said. "They're a way of life."
The Boston Celtics are an institution. The franchise has been an integral part of American history and basketball lore. The story has been fascinating as the years have unfolded and will continue to develop and flourish season after season for future generations to embrace.
If you're looking for the legends of the game then you need to look no further than the Boston Celtics. The Green and White is home to some of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers and the greatest coaches to ever blow a whistle. Ranging from Arnold "Red" Auerbach to JoJo White, the Celtics have celebrated 16 World Championships, have 29 Hall-of-Famers and after raising #31 this season, will have 22 retired numbers.
The long line of legends began when original owner Walter Brown hired Red Auerbach to coach the Celtics in 1950. Coach Auerbach began assembling a championship caliber roster adding Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn and later John Havlicek, to name a few. As coach of the Celtics, Auerbach went on to win a record 9 NBA Championships, including a record 8 in a row from 1959-1966.
After moving solely to the front office in 1966, Auerbach handed the coaching reigns over to Russell then Heinsohn, who each won two championships at the helm, while Auerbach restructured the roster. In assembling the Celtics second championship run Auerbach added legends such as Dave Cowens and JoJo White.
Following a few down years in the late 70's, Auerbach restocked the Celtics with a group of legends for the third time. He assembled what is thought by many to be the greatest frontline of all-time when he drafted Larry Bird in 1978, and in 1980 traded for Robert Parish and drafted Kevin McHale. This core group of Hall-of-Famers went on to win three more championships in the 1980's.
When the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary by unveiling the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, in 1996-97, 13 were former members of the Boston Celtics. The 13 combined for 42 NBA Championships with the Celtics, 10 MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards and three Rookie of the Year awards, proving the Boston Celtics to be one of the most legendary franchises in all of sports.
Greatest Game Ever Played
Going into the 1975-76 season, the Boston Celtics were confident they knew a great deal about themselves and their place in the league. They knew they would be good. Very good. With Dave Cowens surrounded by a cast of players both seasoned with titles, but hungry for more, the Celtics realized that anything less than an appearance in the NBA Finals that season would be falling short of their goals.
Cowens, Paul Silas, John Havlicek, Jo Jo White, even Head Coach Ton Heinsohn, were raised on Celtics ideals. To them - winning the 13th title in team history was paramount.
What these players did not fully realize was that it would be the final season of one of the proudest eras in the history of professional sports. Red Auerbach taught the first generation of Celtics players, which included Bill Russell and Heinsohn, that Celtics basketball was not just a way of playing, but that it was also a way of life. These players, in turn, fulfilled their duty by teaching those that came after them so that the legacy carried on.
The 1976 Championship team would be the final edition of the old-blooded squads, as within two years after winning the 1976 title, the winds of change swept through Boston. Heinsohn would be out as coach. Havlicek would retire. Cowens left to play elsewhere. White was hobbled by injury. Silas left as a free agent.
Although the patriarch Auerbach remained at the helm, the next Celtics dynasty to take hold of the NBA would be, for the first time, led by a coach who was not raised within the Celtic's family. When the Green and White lifted their next title in 1981, there was not one player on the roster that had a hand in hoisting the 1976 title. Only Assistant Coach K.C. Jones possessed a ring from a previous Celtics title.
It was not only the last season for the old generation of Celtics, but it also marked the beginning of the end of an era for the entire NBA. Within the next five years, the league would experience an immaculate growth spurt. With Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the league attracted millions of fans, as well as live television audiences worldwide.
But before the bright lights. Before halftime entertainment. Before team chartered flights. Before cable television. Before The Dream Team, there was the 1976 Celtics. Although they did not have the glitz of many NBA champions after them, they didn't need it. Many feel that there will never be a more exciting game than Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, in which the Celtics fought off the resilient Suns in a triple-overtime affair on June 4, 1976.
But that era has not totally been forgotten, as Cowens and Silas are just two of more than a half dozen players on the court that night at the Boston Garden who continue to shape the game to this day as NBA coaches and administrators.
16 NBA Championships...A record 8 in a row from 1959-1966...Three separate Championship eras...When it comes to hanging Championship Banners, the Celtics are the cream of the crop. No organization has won more titles than the 16-time World Champion Boston Celtics. Whether it's the Green's first title in 1957, their 12th in 1974 or the 16th in 1986 the Celtics tradition of winning championships has stood the test of time.
All information courtesy of BostonCeltics.com