This team has been the most successful team in terms of Championships in NBA history, if you say it’s the Lakers than you would be dead wrong; it’s in actuality, the Lakers hated rivals, the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics begun play in 1946 as one of the original NBA teams, they, and the Knicks, are the only one of the original teams not to have moved in the 61-year history of the NBA.
The Celtics have won 16 NBA championships, the most of any NBA team. When making the finals, the Celtics have been one of the most proficient teams, winning 16 of their 19 NBA finals appearances.
Russell’s defensive abilities would forever change the game of basketball, previously teams had drafted big men based on their offensive performance, but Russell’s offense came second to his fantastic defense. One of Russell’s specialties was being able to deflect the ball away from the basket to himself or a teammate; a move in todays NBA is called a block. Blocks were not kept in Russell’s day, and some basketball statisticians have claimed Russell had as many as 35 blocks in a game, one claim by many Boston fans is that Russell had a 30 point, 30 rebound, and 30 block game, unfortunately there is no credible evidence to support this.
During the early years of their existence the Celtics were amongst the worst teams in NBA history, ending up in last place for three of the first four years of existence. However in 1950 their luck would be forever altered when they hired Arnold “Red’ Auerbach. With Auerbach the Celtics finished the season nine games over .500, the first time in franchise history they had finished with a winning record.
The next season the Celtics would acquire their first legendary player, a Holy Cross product named Bob Cousy. Cousy would go on to lead the NBA in assists eight seasons in a row from 1953 until 1960. Cousy, who would get the nickname Hodini of the hardwood, would win the 1957 Most Valuable player, becoming the first guard and first Celtic to win the honor.
Cousy and the Celtics became one of the NBAs most successful teams from 1950 until 1956, but they could never get over the hump and make it to the NBA finals, that however would all change in 1956 when the Celtics traded all-star and future hall-of-famer Ed Macauley to the Hawks for the second pick in the NBA draft, the player they got was Bill Russell. The 56 draft was very kind to the Celtics, not only did they get Russell but they used their territorial pick to get Tom Heinsohn, and later in the draft selected KC Jones, all three players would become hall of famers.
Bill Russell would turn the Celtics from a mediocre also ran into one of the greatest dynasties the sports world had ever seen. From 1956 until 1969 the Celtics would win 11 titles in 13 years, including their famed eight in a row from 1959 until 1966.
The 1962 NBA finals would see the birth of a rivalry when the Celtics took on the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics had faced the Minneapolis Lakers in 1959 but the rivalry didn’t heat up really until ‘62. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry has come to epitomize rivalries in the NBA. The team teams have combined to win 30 of the 61 NBA championships and one of them has been in all but 24 of the NBA finals. The two teams have also met a total of 10 times in the NBA finals, with the Celtics winning seven of the ten meetings.
Red Auerbach would retire after the 1966 season, but before doing so he hand picked his successor; it was none other than Bill Russell. Russells first year as a player coach ended in Boston missing the NBA finals for the first time since 1956, but Russell would not be deterred as the next year the Celtics came roaring back to win back-to-back NBA champions before Russell retired in 1969.
After Russell’s retirement in 1969 the Celtics would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1950, marking at the time the longest consecutive playoff streak in NBA history– today the streak ranks 4th all-time.
The Celtics would rebuild quickly and within two years they where back in the playoffs lead by John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White. From 1972 until 1975 the Celtics would once again become a regular occurrence in the playoffs, they would also win the 1974 and 1976 NBA championships.
1986 would prove to be both a great year, and a horrible year for the Celtics. During the 85-86 season Larry Bird had his best year of his career in route to his third consecutive MVP, Bill Walton would win 6th man of the year and the Celtics would win the NBA championship. However they would also get the #2 pick by way of a trade with the Seattle Supersonics, the Celtics would use that pick on Maryland star Len Bias. Bias would never play a game in the NBA because he overdosed on cocain. This event has been rumored to be a curse on the Boston Celtics, much like the curse of the Bambino afflicted the Redsox for years. After the 86 season the Celtics begun to decline sharply, making the NBA finals only once(87), the Conference finals twice(88,02), the playoffs 11 times in 21 years including their longest drought of playoff misses of six year(96-01), and only five division titles since 1986.
However after the 1977 season ended Havlicek retired and the Celtics once again fell on hard times, including a 29 win season in 1979. In 1978 the Celtics took a gamble and drafted a junior out of Indiana State named Larry Bird. Bird would stay in college for one more year, but after leading Indiana State to the National championship by beating a Michigan State team lead by Erving “Magic” Johnson, Bird would join the Celtics.
Larry Bird became an instant hit for the Celtics, and would return them to greatness. Bird would become one of the most iconic sports figures of the 80s, and his battles with Johnson in the NBA finals would inspire generations of kids to strive to make the NBA. Bird would also help the NBA market itself from the third sports league in America, behind the NFL and MLB, to the biggest of the major sports leagues not just in America but the world as well.
The Celtics would win the last three of their sixteen NBA championships in the 1980s, the first in 1981, followed by one in 84 and their last in 86. The Celtics would also win 60 games a year six times in the 1980s.
Larry Bird wasn’t the only Celtics player who was great during this time, the Celtics also had Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dennis Johnson along with great role players such as Bill Walton, and Danny Ainge.
The Celtics would be struck by tragedy yet again following the 1992-93 season. In the first round of the NBA playoffs vs. the Charlotte Hornets all-star guard and leading scoring Reggie Lewis fainted because of a heart condition, Lewis was later cleared to play but would die in the off-season.
Going into the 93-94 season, the Celtics were without their two leading scorers from the previous season, Lewis and Bird who had retired. The Celtics fell to the bottom of the NBA going 32-50. The Celtics would make the playoffs again in 1995 but fell to the Orlando Magic, it wouldn’t be until 2001 that the Celtics would make the post season again.
Being the one of the greatest teams in NBA history the Celtics have their fair share of NBA hall-of-famers, including Bird, Russell, McHale, Walton, Cousy, Heinsohn, Havlicek, Macaulay, Jones, and 16 others have played for the Celtics. The Celtics have 21 numbers retired, a microphone, and the name “Loscy”, that is the most of any team, It’s actually more than every team created after 1974 combined(they total 15).