Boston Celtics NBA Basketball

The Boston Celtics, easily recognized by their logo, the smiling leprechaun leaning on the familiar Irish walking stick, have had a long history of unsurpassed success in the world of sports. Founded in 1946 by Walter Brown, the manager of the Boston Garden at the time and part of the NHL Boston Bruins, the newly formed team managed to barely survive through four losing seasons. In 1950, in an effort to save the struggling franchise, Brown was forced to mortgage his home. However, he made a wise decision in hiring Arnold “Red” Auerbach, former coach of the Washington Capitals, as the Celtics coach. Through drafts and trades, Red coached his team to 11 NBA championships, eight of these consecutively from 1959 to 1966; and from 1957 to 1986, the Celtics won 13 world basketball titles. In addition, they hosted the first two NBA all-star games in 1951 and 1952, and again in 1957 and 1964. These years of brilliant trades and drafts brought in such legendary players as Bob Cousy from Holy Cross, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, and Tommy Heinsohn.

Next on the roster of notable Celtics was Bill Russell, a big, powerful player who brought unity and driving force to the team through his blocking, rebounding, and passing abilities. After Russell retired 13 years later, Auerbach brought in Dave Cowens as center, and with Havelicek and other key players, the team won two more national banners in the 1970’s. In 1979, Auerbach scored a major coup once again with the draft of Larry Bird from Indiana State University. Although the Celtics lost the NCAA finals to Magic Johnson’s Michigan State, Bird was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1980. This was the beginning of a long-standing rivalry between Magic Johnson, with the Lakers, and Larry Bird of the Celtics, an intense competition that remains a part of basketball history today.

After the retirements of Bird and McHale, the departure of Robert Parish, and subsequently, the death of Reggie Lewis in 1993, the Celtics suffered their worse period by winning only 15 out of 67 games between 1996 — 1997. However, after Antoine Walker arrived as the new rookie and Rick Patino was hired as coach, the team recovered to some extent, improving their record by winning 21 games. 1998 was a good year for the Celtics, when they gained Paul Pierce in a draft from Kansas State. Pierce, as their captain and leading scorer, is a Celtics all star who has brought the team again to the forefront with a trip to the 2002 Eastern Conference finals in 2002. At the same time, Danny Ainge, a former key member of the Celtics in the 1980’s, returned as Director of Basketball Operations. He has renewed the spirit of teamwork and the high standards of excellence that formed the original dynasty.

To date, 76 title banners in honor of the Celtics have flown from the rafters of the old Boston Garden, the Fleet Center, and now the TD Banknorth Garden. These banners included 16 NBA championships, 17 regular season wins, 19 conference games, and 24 division titles. Twenty-two numbers have been retired to the arena and 28 players are recognized and displayed in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Whether the luck of the Irish has played a part or, as once supposed, the uniqueness of the parquet floor, it is certain that the Boston Celtics, a team of players with incredible talent, will remain an institution of Boston pride. In the words of Red Auerbach, who passed away in October of 2006, “the Celtics are not a team, they are a way of life.”

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