With 17 NBA championship wins, the Boston Celtics are one of the greatest franchises in basketball history. How did this team come to be so great? We’ll break down the history of the Boston Celtics as well as enlighten you on their logo and jersey history, MVP players, and even who the most famous Celtics fans are.
By the end of this article, you will be an expert on the Boston Celtics. Ready? Slam. Dunk.
The Beginning Years
The Boston Celtics were officially formed as part of the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in Boston, Massachusetts on June 6, 1946 by Walter A. Brown. Brown was the presiding Boston Garden-Arena Corporation President and named this new basketball team “Celtics” because of the names great basketball history and tradition from the New York Celtics (1914 - 1939). Other names considered for the team included Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns but the name Celtics prevailed over all other options.
In 1949, the BAA was absorbed by the National Basketball Association and the Celtics became a part of the NBA. In 1950, the Celtics brought on Red Auerbach as their new coach and made history by drafting Chuck Cooper, the first black player in the NBA.
The Celtics got off to a rocky start and didn’t win their first championship until their 10th season when they defeated the St. Louis Hawks in a double-overtime Game 7. After their first win, they went on to win the championship title for the following eight years in a row, making their mark as one of the greatest teams of all time.
The Celtics' fame grew alongside the American’s use of television, which aided in making both the team and its players into basketball icons. With more and more Americans watching the sport on TV, the Celtics quickly became a household name. One of the most prolific Celtics players was John Havlicek, who stole the ball during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1965 NBA Eastern Conference championship. Radio broadcaster Johnny Most famously said, “Havlicek stole the ball!” which became a phrase favored and often quoted by Celtics fans.
The Celtics hold the record for winning the most NBA championships in history with 17, followed closely by the Lakers at 17. Although the team was established in 1946, the Celtics did not win their first championship until 1957. However, after their first win against the St. Louis Hawks, it was hard to stop the Celtics. From 1957 through 1969, the team won a total of eight NBA championships.
In 1978, the Celtics acquired Larry Bird who would become one of the most beloved Celts in history. Bird led the Celtics — along with Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and Dennis Johnson — to the NBA Finals five times in the 1980s, with their last win in 1986.
With such a high rate of success, the Celtics didn’t see a long streak of losses until the mid-1990s. Their luck didn’t turn around until 2007 with key players Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. After nearly 10 years of not making it into the NBA finals, the Celtics turned it around and won their 17th NBA championship.
The Boston Celtics logo has gone nearly unchanged since former coach Red Auerbach's brother Zang designed it in the 1950s. The logo has almost always featured a leprechaun.
1947 - 1970
Similar to the logo, the Boston Celtics’ jersey has seen minimal changes throughout the years. From 1947 to 1970, the Celts donned a leprechaun green jersey with white accents and the word BOSTON in block letters.
1970 - Today
In 1970, the team’s jersey was inverted to be primarily white with green accents and the word CELTICS in block letters.