Boston Celtics: Will They Return to NBA Dominance?
Boston Celtics History and Highlights.
The Boston Celtics are among the most successful teams in the NBA’s history, sharing the record of 17 championships won with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics also hold the record for the most recorded wins of any NBA team. They compete in the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference of the NBA.
The Boston Celtics are one of the eight original teams that have played in the NBA since its foundation in 1946. Their glory years then soon began in the late 1950s, after coach Red Auerbach acquired center, Bill Russell. Russell would become the cornerstone of the Celtics dynasty, in a draft-day trade in 1956.
First NBA Championship Win
Led by Russell and point guard Bob Cousy, the Celtics won their first NBA championship in 1957. Russell was the cornerstone of the team who had future Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, and Bill Sharman. They became the best team in the league’s history, winning eight consecutive NBA championships, a record that no team has even come close ever since.
After Russell retired in 1969, the Boston Celtics went into a rebuilding mode but it didn’t last long until they won their next NBA championship. Dave Cowens and JoJo White were the leaders of the team that won the title in 1974 and 1976.
1980s Return to Dominance
In the 1980s, the Celtics returned to dominance and the rivalry with the Lakers reached its peak. Led by the “Big Three” of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, the Celtics won three NBA championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986. In that decade, the Lakers won two of the three finals against the Celtics.
In that period, the team suffered two huge tragedies. First, Len Bias, the Celtics’ second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, died two nights after the draft. Then, in 1993, Reggie Lewis, who was seen as the next leader of the Celtics, died in practice after suffering a heart attack.
Struggles in the 1990s and 2000s
After the departure of center Robert Parish, who went to the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent, and the retirement of both Bird and McHale, the Celtics struggled through the 1990s and much of the early 2000s.
Paul Pierce, who was drafted with the 10th pick in 1998, was the new franchise player even though no one really expected that of him. Even with Pierce, the Celtics didn’t have many Playoff berths, but that changed in 2007.
In 2007, the team’s general manager Danny Ainge decided to go all-in and traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, making another “Big Three” in Bean Town.
Following this, the Celtics immediately became the best team in the league and, in 2008, managed to win their first title since 1983, defeating the Lakers 4-2 in the finals series.
These two teams met in the NBA Finals two years later, but this time the Lakers won in seven games after the Celtics had a 3-2 lead and 14-point advantage in Game 6.
With Pierce, Garnett, and Allen getting much older, Ainge decided to break down the team.
The Celtics had a few decent Playoff appearances but returned to the NBA Finals in 2022. With the young core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who the Celtics drafted in the past 5 years, the team reached the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
The Celtics and the Lakers have the greatest rivalry in NBA history, meeting 12 times in the NBA Finals, most recently in 2010. The most memorable days of the heated rivalry are from the 1980s when the Celtics were led by Larry Bird and the Lakers by Magic Johnson.