The Boston Celtics have one of the most prestigious histories, not only in professional basketball but in all of the sports. Founded in 1946, the Celtics were one of the league’s original eight teams. The franchise is known for winning. The Celtics hold the most championships in NBA history at 17, one more than the Los Angeles Lakers, their greatest rival. The two organizations have met a record 12 times, starting with their first Finals meeting in 1959 and most recently in 2010.
The Celtics history can best be separated into three eras: The Bill Russell era, the Larry Bird, and lastly the Paul Pierce.
Bill Russell Era
The Celtics’ ascent to dominance began in the late 1950s when the franchise acquired future hall of fame center Bill Russell. Russel, along with superstar point guard Bob Cousy, would prove to be the cornerstone of the Celtics dynasty throughout the 1950s and 60s. The Celtics won their first NBA championship in 1957.
The two were not alone as the pair were accompanied by future Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, and Bill Sharman. The strong cast would manifest the greatest period Celtics in franchise history, as the organization won eight consecutive NBA championships throughout the 1960s.
Larry Bird Era
After Bill Russell’s retirement in 1969, the Celtics found themselves fighting to regain their throne throughout the majority of the 1970s. The Celtics added a pair of titles in 1974 and 1976 but desperately needed to land another superstar to carry the Celtics into the future.
The Celtics did not have to wait too long, as they eventually found just that. His name was Larry Bird. The bird had a successful three-year career at Indiana State, helping them reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history with a 33-0 record. Bird led the Sycamores to the 1979 championship game against Michigan State, where he went onto lose to future Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson, by a score of 75–64
Drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, Bird became a 12-time NBA All-Star and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times from (1994-1998). He restored Boston to greatness in the 1980s, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards during the decade.
Paul Pierce Era
With the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft, the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce, a small-forward from the University of Kansas. With already a stellar college career under his belt, Pierce was about to contribute early to the Boston Celtics, solidifying himself as one of the premier players in the entire league.
In 2003, the Celtics knew they needed a new general manager that could construct a roster that would help aide Pierce in order to win a championship. They went on to make one of the most influential hires in team history: by naming Danny Ainge the President of Basketball Operations.
Before the 2007 Draft, general manager Danny Ainge made a collection of roster moves that returned the Celtics prominence within the league. Ainge masterminded a trade that sent No. 5 pick Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, and Delonte West to Seattle for perennial all-star Ray Allen and Seattle’s second-round pick
Ray Allen, one of the most prolific three-point shooters in NBA history, was a much-needed addition to the team. Ainge didn’t stop there.
The Celtics then traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and a first-round draft pick to the Timberwolves in exchange for superstar power forward Kevin Garnett. This series of moves created a new “Big Three” of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett.
The 2008 season saw the Boston Celtics return to glory on the hardwoods. The Celtics overpowered the Lakers in the NBA Finals, winning 131–92 and clinching their 17th NBA title. Paul Pierce was named Finals MVP.
Two years later, they were not so lucky. Squaring off with the Lakers for the 13th time in the NBA final, the Lakers found their revenge, defeating the Celtics in seven games denying the franchise of their 18th title.
After leading little known Butler University on two NCAA National Championship Cinderella runs, the Boston Celtics hired Brad Stevens before the 2013 season as their new head coach.
The Celtics began their rebuilding process starting in 2016 when the organization selected Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the draft out of the University of California. Paired with 2017 first-round draft pick Jayson Tatum out of Duke, the pair would serve to be the one-two punch they Celtics and Brad Stevens were desperately seeking for.
The two young players blossomed into stars during the 2018 playoffs. They defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the First Round in seven games and continued the feat in the Conference Semifinals by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in five games before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the Conference Finals.
An up and down 2019 season led to a disappointing second-round exit at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks’
Before the 2020 season, the Celtics added all-star point guard Kemba Walker to their roster following the messy divorce with Kyrie Irving, who left the team in free agency for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Boston Celtics are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals, as they wait to take on the Miami Heat for a shot at the Conference title. The trio of Tatum, Brown, and Walker will have the Celtics as one of the premier teams to beat year in and year out for a long time to come.