One of the NBA’s winningest teams, the Boston Celtics, have a strong connection to Ireland. You only need to see the name, symbol and mascot to realize that everything about this team makes us think of Ireland.
The curious thing is that the history of the Boston Celtics is directly linked to the origins of basketball and the NBA, do you want to understand this history better? So let’s go!
The Celtics of … New York?
Yes, it may seem like heresy, but the origin of the Celtics is linked to the city of New York. When basketball was beginning to become popular in the United States, in the 10s, the sport was nothing more than a leisure time, or a display before some shows and events. Nothing that would draw attention.
Until, in 1912, a businessman, Frank McCormack, decided to create a basketball team. As the team was formed by players of Irish origin and already participated in a club called Celtics, the choice of name was easy: Celtics.
However, this is just the beginning of the story.
In 1917, the team owner needed to travel to participate in the first world war. When he returned, another person, named Jim Furey, had already “appropriated the team”, starting a legal battle over patents and name use rights.
McCormack lost the court decision, and the team, now called the Original Celtics, belonged to Furey. Despite the misappropriation, Furey professionalized the team and was the first manager to pay salaries to the players.
His team, Original Celtics, started to travel the United States in exhibitions of games against other teams. It was an almost unbeatable team. So much so that it became a show attraction, as the Harlem Globetrotters are today.
When the first professional basketball league was created in 1927, the Original Celtics even refused to participate, however, the League prohibited teams linked to the league from playing against them. So the Original Celtics ended up joining the league.
When it began to participate in the league, the hegemony of the Original Celtics was consolidated in such a way that other teams began to leave the league. Additionally, the League forced some Celtics players to switch teams to even out the competition.
After the 1929 crisis, the League went bankrupt and the Original Celtics ended soon after, because even trying to make independent exhibitions, people did not have money to go to events, and the team was unable to maintain itself.
Finally, the Boston Celtics
In 1946, when a businessman, Walter Brown, decided to create a professional basketball team in Boston, he took advantage of the large population of Irish descendants in the city and decided to pay homage to the Original Celtics. In this way, it achieved two goals, conquering a large audience and rescuing the memory of a legendary player in American basketball.
Since then, there have been many achievements and stories that, for many, are the most beautiful in the NBA, such as the longest title streak (8), most wins in a season (67) and the first team to draft a black man.
Now that you know the Boston Celtics connection to Ireland, you know why the team is so beloved in the Emerald Isle, as it is not just a name, but a unique history.