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The Celtics either dominated the league or played a large part in the playoffs in the late 1950s through the mid 1980s. After the deaths of the second draft pick Len Bias in 1986 and Reggie Lewis in 1993, the team fell into a steady decline, only making the playoffs four times from 1996 to 2007. The franchise has recently returned to prominence when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce during the 2007 off-season. On June 17, 2008, the Boston Celtics won their 17th championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 in the 2008 NBA Finals. Four Celtics (Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Dave Cowens, and Larry Bird) have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for an NBA record total of 10 MVP awards.
1946–1956: The building of a dynasty
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, had an immediate impact.
1957–1969: The dynasty
Bob Cousy (left), helped the Celtics win their very first championship in 1957.
Russell went on to play almost every game of the season, and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals and defeated the St. Louis Hawks in seven games, giving the Celtics the first of their record 17 NBA Championships. 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. The Boston Celtics of the mid-1950s–60s are widely considered one of the most dominant teams of all- time.[
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 dynasty
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. 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 Finals 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 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 years
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.
Bird was drafted with the 6th overall selection in the 1978 NBA Draft and spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics.
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 public support strongly 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. He also picked up point guard Gerald Henderson from the CBA. Carr, Archibald, Henderson and Ford formed a highly competent backcourt, with their unique skills blending in perfectly with the talented frontcourt of Cowens, Maxwell and Bird, who would go on to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors. The Celtics improved by 32 games, which at the time was the best single-season turnaround in NBA history, going 61–21 and losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After the season, Auerbach completed what may be the most lopsided trade in NBA history. Auerbach had always been a fan of stockpiling draft picks, so even after the success of 1979–80 the Celtics had both the 1st and 13th picks in the 1980 NBA Draft left over from the M. L. Carr trade. Auerbach saw an opportunity to improve the team immediately, sending the two picks to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for center Robert Parish and the Warriors first round pick, the 3rd overall. With the draft pick, Auerbach selected University of Minnesota power forward Kevin McHale. With these three future Hall of Famers on the team the Celtics had a core in place to become a dominant team in the NBA.
The Celtics went 62–20 under coach Bill Fitch in 1980–81, despite losing center Dave Cowens to retirement late in training camp. Once again the Celtics matched up with the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston fell behind 3 games to 1 before coming back to win a classic 7th game, 91–90. The Celtics went on to capture the 1981 NBA Championship over the Houston Rockets, just two years after Bird had been drafted. Maxwell was named NBA Finals MVP.
In 1983–84 the Celtics, under new coach K.C. Jones, would go 62–20 and finally get back to the NBA Finals after a three year hiatus. In the finals, the Celtics came back from a 2–1 deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, winning their 15th championship. Bird renewed his college rivalry with Lakers star Magic Johnson during this series. After the series Auerbach officially retired as General Manager but maintained the position of team President. Auerbach was succeeded by Jan Volk as General manager. Volk had been with the Celtics since graduating from Columbia Law School in 1971 and had been the team's General Counsel since 1976 and the team's Assistant General Manager since 1980. During the off-season, in Volk's first major transaction since assuming the GM role, the Celtics traded Henderson, whose dramatic steal in game 2 altered the course of the series and gave the Celtics a chance, to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for their first round pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.
In 1985, the Lakers and Celtics met again, but this time the Lakers took the championship. During the following off-season the Celtics acquired Bill Walton from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Cedric Maxwell. Walton was a big star with the Portland Trail Blazers, but injuries had kept him from living up to expectations. He was willing to come off the bench, deferring to the three big men already with the team. Walton was a big part of the Celtics' success in 1986.
In 1985–86 the Celtics fielded one of the best teams in NBA history. The 1986 Celtics won 67 games, going 40–1 at their home, the Boston Garden. Bird won his third consecutive MVP award and Walton won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. They won their 16th championship and last of the 20th century, defeating the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals 4 games to 2.
Thanks to the 1984 trade of Gerald Henderson and the subsequent fall of the Seattle SuperSonics, at the end of the 1985–86 the Celtics owned not only the best team in the NBA but also the second pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. The Celtics drafted Len Bias with the pick and had high hopes for the young University of Maryland star. Fans believed Bias had superstar potential, and that he would be the perfect complement to the aging, but still strong, Celtics. The hope was that his presence would ensure that the franchise would remain a powerhouse after Bird, McHale and Parish retired. Unfortunately, Bias died 48 hours after he was drafted, after using cocaine at a party and overdosing. It would be the first in a long string of bad luck for the Celtics, and many fans believe the Celtics have never recovered from the loss of Bias. Despite the loss of Bias, the Celtics remained competitive in 1986–87, going 59–23 and again winning the Eastern Conference Championship.
After the 1987–88 season, head coach K.C. Jones retired. Jones was replaced as head coach by assistant Jimmy Rodgers. Rodgers faced immediate trouble in 1988–89 when, only 6 games into the season, Larry Bird decided to have surgery to remove bone spurs in both feet. The injury was to sideline Bird until well after the All-Star Break, although supposedly he would be able to return. However, despite his best attempts to return he was unable to make it back as the Celtics stumbled to a 42–40 record and a first round playoff defeat to the Detroit Pistons.
Bird returned in 1989–90 to play in 75 games and he led the Celtics to a 52–30 record. In the playoffs, after winning the first two games of a Best of 5 series against the New York Knicks, the Celtics collapsed, losing 3 straight, including the decisive 5th game at the Boston Garden. In the wake of the embarrassing defeat, Rodgers was fired and replaced by assistant coach (and former Celtic player) Chris Ford.
Under Ford's leadership the Celtics improved to 56–26 in 1990–91, recapturing the Atlantic Division title even though Bird missed 22 games with a variety of injuries. In 1992, a late season rally allowed the Celtics to catch the New York Knicks and repeat as Atlantic Division champions. The team finished 51–31 and again matched up with the Indiana Pacers in the First Round, this time sweeping the series 3 games to 0. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals the Celtics lost a grueling 7 game series to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4 games to 3. Due to back problems, Larry Bird played in only 45 of the 82 regular season games, and only 4 of the 10 playoff games.
After thirteen seasons with the club and winning a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics with the Dream Team, Bird retired in 1992 primarily due to his back injuries.
1993–1998: Tragedy and decline
At the time of Bird's retirement former Celtics guard Chris Ford was the coach of the Celtics. 26-year old Reggie Lewis (out of Boston's Northeastern University) was seen as Bird's successor as the franchise player for the Celtics. Lewis, a small forward, fainted during a 1993 first round playoff matchup with the Charlotte Hornets. It was later revealed that Lewis had heart problems, yet he was able to get doctors to clear him for a comeback. He died of a heart attack while shooting baskets at Brandeis University during the offseason. The Celtics honored his memory during the following season by retiring his number 35.
In 1994, the Celtics hired former player M. L. Carr to be the team's new Vice-President of Basketball Operations, working alongside G.M. Jan Volk. In his first draft in charge of the Celtics, he drafted University of North Carolina star Eric Montross with his first round draft pick. The Acie Earl era was already nearing an end, as Montross became the new heir apparent in the paint.
1994–95 was the Celtics' final season in the Boston Garden. The Celtics signed the aging Dominique Wilkins as a free agent, and he led the team in scoring with 17.8 PPG. Second-year player Dino Radja, a power forward from Croatia, added an interior presence to the team that had been lacking in 1993–94. The Celtics made the playoffs, losing to the heavily favored Orlando Magic in 4 games.
In 1995, the Celtics moved from the Boston Garden into the Fleet Center (renamed the TD Banknorth Garden in 2005). Carr fired Chris Ford and took the coaching reins himself. After drafting Providence College star Eric Williams, the Celtics struggled to a 33–49 record. Things got worse in 1996–97 as the Celtics lost a franchise record 67 games, winning only 15 times despite the emergence of 1st-round draft pick Antoine Walker.
Carr stepped aside to another job in the organization when Celtics principal owner Paul Gaston convinced Rick Pitino to join the franchise as the team's president, director of basketball operations, and head coach. Pitino's appointment as team president was controversial as Auerbach, who had filled that role for more than 25 years, first heard about this change from local media people. Unfortunately for the franchise, Pitino was not the savior everyone expected him to be, although he acquired several talented young players during his tenure.
The Celtics received the third and sixth draft picks in the 1997 NBA Draft, and used the picks to select a brand new backcourt. They drafted Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer and dismantled much of the young team that lost 67 games the year before. David Wesley, Dino Radja, and Rick Fox were let go, and Williams was traded to the Denver Nuggets for a pair of second round draft picks.
1998–2007: Attempts to rebuild
Pierce was drafted with the 10th overall in the 1998 NBA Draft
The following year the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA Draft, a college star who had been expected to be drafted much higher than the Celtics' tenth overall pick. Pitino also acquired veteran Kenny Anderson, for future Finals MVP Billups and Dee Brown. Pitino failed to coach any successful teams and resigned in 2001.
Following the resignation of Rick Pitino, the Celtics improved greatly under coach Jim O'Brien. Paul Pierce matured into an NBA star and was ably complemented by Antoine Walker, along with the other role players acquired over the years. The team finished the season going 24–24 under O'Brien (after going 12–22 before Pitino's resignation) and following the 2000–01 season O'Brien was given the job of head coach on a permanent basis. As a result of numerous trades, the Celtics had three picks in the 2001 NBA Draft, a luxury that seemed to set the franchise up well for the long term. General Manager Chris Wallace used the picks on Joe Johnson, Joe Forte (a favorite of Red Auerbach) and Kedrick Brown.
The Celtics entered the 2001–02 season with low expectations. The team's success in the latter stages of 2000–01 was largely forgotten, and critics were surprised when the team, along with the New Jersey Nets, surged to the top of the Atlantic Division ahead of teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, who were fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals. The Celtics won a hard-fought five-game series with the 76ers in the first round, 3 games to 2. Pierce scored 46 points in the series-clinching blowout at the Fleet Center. In the Conference Semifinals, the Celtics defeated the favored Detroit Pistons 4 games to 1 in a series best remembered for the Celtics low-scoring Game 3 victory, which they won 66–64. In their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1988, the Celtics would jump out to a 2–1 series lead over the New Jersey Nets, after rallying from 21 points down in the fourth quarter to win Game 3, but would lose the next three games to fall 4 games to 2.
In 2003, the Celtics were sold by owner Paul Gaston to Boston Basketball Partners LLC, led by H. Irving Grousbeck, Wycliffe Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, Robert Epstein, David Epstein, and John Svenson. The team made it back to the playoffs but were swept by the Nets in the second round, despite bringing Game 4 to double overtime.
Before their elimination, the team hired Danny Ainge to take over the front office, pushing Chris Wallace to another job in the organization. Ainge believed the team had reached its peak and promptly stunned the team by sending Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks (along with Tony Delk). In return, the Celtics received the oft-injured Raef LaFrentz and a first-round draft pick in 2004.
The Celtics made the playoffs, only to be badly swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers, losing all 4 games by blowout margins.
The Celtics were a young team under new coach Doc Rivers during the 2004 season, yet they seemed to have a core of good young players, led by rookie Al Jefferson, to go along with a selection of able veterans. The Celtics went 45–37 and won their first Atlantic Division title since 1991–92. The Pacers defeated them in the first round yet again, with the series culminating in an embarrassing 27-point loss in Game 7 at the Fleet Center.
Celtics in a game versus the Miami Heat at the TD Garden in April 2006
The Boston Celtics continued to rebuild on the night of the 2006 NBA Draft. Danny Ainge traded the rights to seventh overall pick Randy Foye, Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and a future second-round pick. A subsequent trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for Allen Iverson was reported as a potential move beneficial to each team, although such a trade never happened and Iverson was shipped to the Denver Nuggets in December. Orien Greene was waived, and the Celtics replaced him by trading a first-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft to the Phoenix Suns for rookie Rajon Rondo. In the second round the Celtics added Leon Powe to the team. On July 6, 2006, Allan Ray was signed as a free agent. He played college basketball for four years at Villanova University.
The 2006–07 season was a gloomy one for the franchise. The season began with the death of Red Auerbach at the age of 89. Auerbach was one of the few remaining people who had been a part of the NBA since its inception in 1946. The Celtics went 2–22 from late December 2006 through early February 2007 after losing Paul Pierce to injury, the result of a stress reaction in his left foot (he would later miss the latter part of March and all of April because of swelling in his left elbow). At first, the Celtics received a much needed boost from guard Tony Allen but he tore his ACL on a needless dunk attempt after the whistle in a game vs. the Indiana Pacers on January 10, 2007. The Celtics recorded a record of 24–58, second-worst in the NBA, including a franchise record 18-game losing streak that lasted from January 5 to February 14. As the streak grew, some[by whom?] suggested that Pierce sit out the rest of the season to the let the young players such as Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo and Delonte West get more experience.
2007-2008: Return to Championship Form
2007–08 Boston Celtics season
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The Celtics celebrate after winning the 2008 Championship.
After a dreadful 2006–2007 season, rumors flared that Paul Pierce wanted out of Boston. Furthermore, head coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge were both in danger of losing their jobs. The franchise was in need of help, in hopes of getting the first or second pick in the first round in the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery pick (in which they were in favor) for either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. But shockingly, the Celtics landed the #5 pick and the Portland Trail Blazers landed with the first pick and drafted Greg Oden, followed by Kevin Durant who was drafted second by the Seattle SuperSonics (who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008–2009 and became known as the Oklahoma City Thunder). Jeff Green was in favor of joining the Celtics franchise, but Danny Ainge traded the rights to Green, alongside with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak, to the SuperSonics for Ray Allen and the rights to Glen Davis. Rumors were spreading across the media about Kevin Garnett coming to Boston after demanding that he wanted to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves, believing the Timberwolves were not the team to help him win a championship. He also first said that he did not want to join the Celtics franchise because they were not a championship team. But after the Celtics obtained Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics, Garnett was finally convinced of the Celtics' desire to win a championship and wanted to join the franchise. So, a blockbuster trade was made. For Garnett, the Celtics traded Al Jefferson, Gerald Green (the first Celtic to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest since Dee Brown in 1991), Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, a 2009 first round draft pick, and cash considerations. A dynasty was rebuilding and the future Big Three (also known as the Boston Three Party) was in place.
The Celtics would have a successful regular season, and complete the largest single-season turnaround in NBA history, finishing with a league-best 66–16 record, 42 games better than the previous year's. The 66–16 record they compiled, which included a season-high 10 game winning streak, was the 6th greatest record percentage-wise in NBA history.
Their first matchup in the 2008 NBA Playoffs was against the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks. At home, the Celtics were dominant: their lowest home margin of victory against the Hawks in the playoffs was 19 in Game 2. However, the surprising Hawks were able to beat the Celtics in all three games in Atlanta. The series went seven games, with the home team winning each game. The second round pitted Boston against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once again the series went to seven games. Game 7 saw Paul Pierce and LeBron James in a shootout with each scoring over 40 points, but the Celtics emerged victorious 97–92. In the Eastern Conference Finals the Celtics faced the Detroit Pistons. In Game 2, the Celtics finally lost at home for the first time in the playoffs. However, the Celtics bounced back to win Game 3 on the road in Detroit. The series continued and the Celtics took down the Pistons in six games, winning the deciding game on the road.
The 2008 NBA Finals were contested with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and a Los Angeles Lakers team in the middle of a dominant playoff run. They swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round, defeated the Utah Jazz in the second round in six games, and extinguished the repeat hopes of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games in the Western Conference Finals. Factoring in the Lakers strong playoff run to the Finals and the Celtics problems of even reaching the Finals with two 7-game series, the Lakers had a strong chance to beat a seemingly tired Boston team and the Lakers were heavily favored to win the series. The first games of the series started with the Celtics once again dominating at home. Game 1 saw Paul Pierce suffer a knee injury early in the game only to come back and make 70 percent of his attempted field goals, resulting in a 98–88 Celtics win. In Game 2, Boston nearly lost a 24-point lead only to win 108–102. The Lakers returned to Staples Center and won Game 3, 87–81. When Los Angeles took a 24-point lead in the second quarter of Game 4 the Celtics appeared to be losing control of the series. Led by a bench that outscored the Lakers bench by 20 points, the Celtics took over Game 4 with a 97–91 victory, the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history. Although the Los Angeles Lakers won Game 5, 103–98, the series went back to Boston for Game 6, and the Celtics finished off Los Angeles with a 131–92 victory. Game 6 was the most lopsided win in a NBA Finals game since the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz by 42 points in the 1998 NBA Finals, and the all-time largest margin of victory in a deciding game. Paul Pierce was named NBA Finals MVP. The Celtics had won their record 17th NBA championship, the first new banner for the TD Banknorth Garden, and the franchise's first championship in 22 years.
The 2008-2009 Celtics started off the season at 27-2, the best starting record in NBA history. They also had a pair of 10+ game winning streaks (19, a franchise record, and 12, respectively), not seen since the 1985–86 season. Both streaks, however, were snapped by their previous year's Finals opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers (who would later go on to win the 2009 NBA Finals), on December 25, 2008 (92–83) and February 5, 2009 (110–109, OT). Things did not get better for the defending champions and after the All Star break things turned for the worse when Kevin Garnett got injured in a loss against the Utah Jazz. They then had Sam Cassell traded to the Sacramento Kings and Patrick O’Bryant to the Toronto Raptors for 2nd round picks and to add more valuable free agents for their playoff push. After a week they signed Mikki Moore off waivers from the Kings to boost their frontline, and signed Stephon Marbury from the New York Knicks. Despite the key additions the Celtics were only 12–8 following the All-Star break, and fell from 1st to 2nd place in the East, primarily due to various player injuries, particularly Kevin Garnett's, who missed the most number of games in a season during his 14-year career. The Celtics would, however, have another successful season, despite being decimated by injuries, acquiring back-to-back 60 win season by garnering a record of 62–20, and being awarded the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The 2009 NBA playoffs started off like last season going to 7 games against the Chicago Bulls with Boston winning the series. Once again the second series went to 7 games but the Celtics lost to the Orlando Magic, the first time they had ever lost a series after leading 3-2.
In the 2009 offseason, the Celtics signed two veterans, Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, in an effort to add weapons to the Big Three. At first, the signings worked well for the Celtics, who started the season 23-5 and at one point had the best record in the NBA. But Wallace's behavior and declining production, coupled with Daniels' injuries, didn't help the cause. The Celtics were also plagued by injury problems affecting Pierce and Garnett. Even the addition of Nate Robinson and Michael Finley didn't help Boston's cause. The only bright spot has been the improvement of Rajon Rondo, who finally became an All-Star and set season records for steals and assists. The Celtics limped to a 50-32 record, good only for 4th in the East. What made the season an especially difficult one was also their inability to win at home, only managing a 24-17 record, worse than their 26-15 road record. Many expected the Celtics not to last past the first round because of their struggles throughout the regular season, but the Celtics romped through the first two rounds, first dispatching the Miami Heat in five games, then shocking the top seed Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. The Celtics await the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals.
Further information: Lakers–Celtics rivalry, Pistons–Celtics rivalry, and Celtics–Sixers rivalry
The Boston Celtics have a long-standing rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, which is widely regarded as the league's greatest rivalry, as these two teams have faced each other 11 times in the NBA Finals, with the most recent being the 2008 NBA Finals. The teams have won a combined 32 NBA championships in the 63 NBA seasons, making both teams accountable for more than half of all NBA championships. In the 1960s, the Celtics faced and defeated the Lakers six times in the NBA Finals, despite the efforts of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. The rivalry was renewed in the 1980s, when the Lakers and Celtics won 8 of the 9 NBA Championships awarded from 1980–1988 (the Lakers won 5 while the Celtics won 3), and played each other in the NBA Finals on 3 occasions. The rivalry cooled off as the Celtics slipped into mediocrity in the mid- and late-'90s until they met in the 2008 Finals.
In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics long-standing rivals have been the Philadelphia 76ers, 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 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 five 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.
A relatively new rivalry surfaced between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their rivalry came to a head in the 2008 NBA Playoffs where LeBron James and the Cavaliers faced the retooled Celtics in the second round. Particularly memorable was the individual rivalry between James and Paul Pierce. Overall, however, it was a defensive battle as both teams outwitted each other with their particular brand of defense.
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), and going to the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons with both team sweeping each other 4-0 both years (Boston in 2008–09 and Atlanta in 2009–10) and currently battling for the # 3 seed in the East, 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 St. Patrick's Day 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, Chris Bosh, Ron Artest, Quentin Richardson, John Salmons and Keon Clark. During games between the Celtics and the Cavaliers, Pierce and James often combine explosive scoring with defensive intensity.
Further information: List of Boston Celtics seasons
Records, retired numbers and awards
Main article: List of Boston Celtics accomplishments and records
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 Garden (1995–present), formerly known as the Fleet Center (1995–2005) and the TD Banknorth Garden (2005-2009)
Boston Celtics roster v • d • e
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. From
G 20 Allen, Ray 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 205 lb (93 kg) Connecticut
G/F 42 Allen, Tony 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 213 lb (97 kg) Oklahoma State
G/F 7 Daniels, Marquis 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 200 lb (91 kg) Auburn
F/C 11 Davis, Glen 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 289 lb (131 kg) LSU
G/F 40 Finley, Michael 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 225 lb (102 kg) Wisconsin
F/C 27 Gaffney, Tony (IN) 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 205 lb (93 kg) Massachusetts
F 5 Garnett, Kevin 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 253 lb (115 kg) Farragut Academy HS (IL)
G 0 Lafayette, Oliver (IN) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Houston
C 43 Perkins, Kendrick 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 280 lb (127 kg) Clifton J. Ozen HS (TX)
G/F 34 Pierce, Paul (C) 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Kansas
G 4 Robinson, Nate 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) 180 lb (82 kg) Washington
G 9 Rondo, Rajon 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 171 lb (78 kg) Kentucky
F/C 44 Scalabrine, Brian (IN) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Southern California
F/C 30 Wallace, Rasheed 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 230 lb (104 kg) North Carolina
F/C 13 Williams, Shelden 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 250 lb (113 kg) Duke
Doc Rivers (Marquette)
Armond Hill (Princeton)
Kevin Eastman (Richmond)
Clifford Ray (Oklahoma)
Tom Thibodeau (Salem State)
Mike Longabardi (Frostburg State)
Ed Lacerte (Boston)
(C) Team captain
(DP) Unsigned draft pick
(FA) Free agent
Roster • Transactions
Last transaction: 2010-04-14
C Semih Erden 2008 NBA Draft 60th pick
Further information: Category:Boston Celtics players
Boston Celtics head coaches
Name Start End Seasons Regular season Playoffs
W L PCT G W L PCT G
Honey Russell Initial End of 1947–48 2 42 66 .389 108 1 2 .333 3
Doggie Julian April 11, 1948 End of 1949–50 2 47 81 .367 128 – – – –
Red Auerbach April 27, 1950 End of 1965–66 16 795 397 .667 1192 90 58 .608 148
Bill Russell Start of 1966–67 End of 1968–69 3 162 83 .661 245 28 18 .609 46
Tom Heinsohn Start of 1969–70 January 3, 1978 9 427 263 .619 690 47 33 .588 80
Tom Sanders January 3, 1978 November, 1978 2 23 39 .371 62 – – – –
Dave Cowens November, 1978 End of 1978–79 1 27 41 .397 68 – – – –
Bill Fitch May 23, 1979 May 27, 1983 4 242 86 .738 328 26 19 .578 45
K.C. Jones June 7, 1983 End of 1987–88 5 308 102 .751 410 65 37 .637 102
Jim Rodgers Start of 1988–89 May 8, 1990 2 94 70 .573 164 2 6 .250 8
Chris Ford June 12, 1990 May 17, 1995 5 222 188 .541 410 13 16 .448 29
M. L. Carr June 20, 1995 April 30, 1997 2 48 116 .293 164 – – – –
Rick Pitino May 8, 1997 January 8, 2001 4 102 146 .411 248 – – – –
Jim O'Brien January 8, 2001 January 27, 2004 4 139 119 .539 258 13 13 .500 26
John Carroll January 27, 2004 End of 2003–04 1 14 22 .389 36 0 4 .000 4
Doc Rivers April 29, 2004 Present 6 230 180 .561 410 26 21 .553 47
Danny Silva (1946-1948)
Henry McCarthy (1948-1950)
Art Spector (1949-1950)
John Killilea (1972-1977)
Tom Sanders (1977-1978)
K. C. Jones (1977-1983, 1996-1997)
Bob McKinnon (1978-1979)
Jim Rodgers (1980-1988)
Chris Ford (1983-1990)
Ed Badger (1984-1988)
Lanny Van Eman (1988-1990)
Don Casey (1990-1996)
Jon P. Jennings (1990-1994)
Dennis Johnson (1993-1997)
John Kuester (1995-1997)
Winston Bennett (1997-1998)
Jim O'Brien (1997-2001)
John Carroll (1997-2004)
Kevin Willard (1997-2001)
Mark Starns (1997-2001)
Lester Conner (1998-2004)
Andy Enfield (1998-2000)
Dick Harter (2001-2004)
Frank Vogel (2001-2004)
Dana Barros (February 2004-End of 2003–04)
Paul Cormier (February 2004-2005)
Jim Brewer (2004-2006)
Paul Pressey (2004-2006)
Tony Brown (2004-2007)
Dave Wohl (2004-2007)
Armond Hill (2004-Present)
Kevin Eastman (2004-Present)
Clifford Ray (2005-Present)
Tom Thibodeau (2007-Present)
Mike Longabardi (2007-Present)
Logos and uniforms
The Boston Celtics released a new logo for the 1996–97 season, although the depiction of a leprechaun spinning a basketball has been in use since the early 1950s. The leprechaun 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 alternate logo is based on logos used by the Celtics before they used the Zang Auerbach leprechaun.
One-colored Celtics logo 1976–1996
Current Logo 1996–present
Alternate Logo 1998–present
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. The uniforms traditionally make their debuts on the last Friday of November home games, after which are used on the road.
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 word "Boston" in front and the gold trim, the St. Patrick's Day jerseys resemble the regular road jerseys. For the first four years, the St. Patty's jerseys were used four times, majority of which on the road; however in the 2009-10 NBA season, they were used just twice (both home games).
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.
At the 2008–09 season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics wore a modified version of their home uniforms, accented with gold, to commemorate last season's championship team.
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. According to legend, Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach had a problem with the white sneakers, claiming that the white sneakers can easily get dirty; hence starting a long tradition with the black sneakers. But prior to the 2003–04 season, current Celtics GM Danny Ainge and captain Paul Pierce suggested wearing white sneakers, in due part to a growing number of teams wearing black sneakers. Auerbach gladly accepted and the white sneakers have remained since on home games. They still wear the black sneakers on away games, but in the 2008–09 season, they wore white sneakers with green and gold accents while wearing their St. Patrick's Day jerseys on the road.
The Celtics are also the only team to wear warmup jackets with the player names at the back. During the 1980s, this style was dominant in most NBA warmup jackets, but by the late 1990s, this style gradually declined. The Celtics, however, decided to keep the design in keeping with tradition.
St. Patrick's Alternate
Television and radio
Boston Celtics broadcasters
Walter A. Brown, team founder and original owner (1946–September 7, 1964)
Lou Pieri and Marjorie Brown, wife of team founder (September 7, 1964– June 24, 1965)
Marvin Kratter/Knickerbocker Brewing Company, subsidiary of National Equities (June 24, 1965–1968)
Ballantine Brewery, subsidiary of Investors Funding Corporation (1968–1969)
Woody Erdman Trans-National Communications and Investors Funding Corporation (1969–1971)
Ballantine Brewery, subsidiary of Investors Funding Corporation (1971–1972)
Irv Levin and Harold Lipton (April 1972-May 1972) Sale not approved by NBA 
Robert Schmertz/Leisure Technology (May 1972–January 1975)
Robert Schmertz/Leisure Technology, Irv Levin, and Harold Lipton (January 1975–November 1975) 
Irv Levin and Harold Lipton (November 1975-1978)
John Y. Brown, Jr. and Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. (1978-1979)
Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. (1979–1983)
Don Gaston, Alan N. Cohen, Paul Dupee (1983–1993)
Paul Gaston (1993–2002)
Boston Basketball Partners LLC — consisting of Wycliffe Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, and H. Irving Grousbeck (2002–present)
Walter A. Brown (1946–1963)
Lou Pieri (1963–1965)
Jack Waldron (1965–1967)
Clarence Adams (1967–1968)
Jack Waldron (1968–1970)
Red Auerbach (1970–1997)
Rick Pitino (1997–2001)
Red Auerbach (2001–2006)
Rich Gotham (2007–present)
Walter A. Brown (1946–1950)
Red Auerbach (1950–1984)
Jan Volk (1984–1997)
Chris Wallace (1997–2007)
Danny Ainge (2007–present)
M. L. Carr (1994–1997) (Director of Basketball Operations)
Danny Ainge (2003–present) (President of Basketball Operations)
Dr. Robert Steinsieck (1958–1959)
Dr. John Doherty (1959–1969)
Dr. Thomas Silva (1969–1987)
Dr. Arnold Scheller (1987–2005)
Dr. Brian McKeon (2005–present)
Harry Cohen (1946–1958)
Buddy LeRoux (1958–1967)
John DeLauri (1967–1971)
Frank Challant (1971–1979)
Ray Melchiorre (1979–1987)
Ed Lacerte (1987–present)