The Boston Celtics are undeniably one of the most iconic and successful dynasties in all of sports, especially the NBA. They’ve won 17 NBA championships over 76 years of play, the most in NBA history (tied with the LA Lakers).
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In 1950, Red Auerbach joined the Boston Celtics as their head coach, which helped kick off their run towards becoming a sports dynasty. Auerbach signed Bob Cousey and Bill Russell, cementing the Celtics as a force to be reckoned with.
The Celtics won the 1957 championship, then lost the 1958 championship to the Atlanta Hawks before going on a championship-winning streak that has yet to be replicated, winning the 1959-1966 NBA championships. They won another two NBA championships in 1968 and 1969 before Bill Russell retired.
Following Russell’s retirement, the Celtics spent the year of 1970 rebuilding. After acquiring Paul Silas, Dave Crowns, JoJo White, and John Havlicek, the Celtics were back in championship contention.
This would take some time, as the Celtics lost in the 1972 and 1973 Eastern conference finals, before rebounding to win titles in 1974 and 1976. In 1977, Havlicek retired, leading to another rebuilding period.
The Larry Bird Era
The team struggled in the 1978-1979 season with a 29-53 overall record. The signing of Larry Bird and several other amazing players, including Kevin Mchale, M.L. Carr and Gerald Henderson, helped push the team back to their winning ways, boasting a 32-game improvement.
With the help of Bird, arguably the most iconic player in the long history of Celtics, they were able to win championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986. The rivalry between the Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird, and the LA Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, reached its peak during this time, leading to some amazing basketball.
Larry Leaving and Rebuilding
During the late 80s and early 90s, injuries caught up to Larry Bird which led to him missing several games. Despite his injuries, the Celtics were still competitive, making it to two more playoffs.
With Larry Bird’s retirement in 1992, Kevin McHale’s retirement, and Robert Parish’s signing with the Hornets, the Celtics fell on hard times, boasting a losing record for a long time.
Paul Pierce and Resurgence
In the 1998 draft, the Celtics signed Paul Pierce, and in the 2001 draft, they signed Joe Forte, Kendrick Brown, and Joe Johnson, which led to the team making an unexpected surge in the 2001-2002 season, making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.
This was the shot in the arm the Celtics needed. Under new coach Doc Rivers, they made it to the first round of the playoffs in the 2004-2005 season but still struggled to win games during the regular season, despite Pierce averaging nearly 27 points per game. Something needed to change, and the team went through another rebuilding period.
A new big three emerged in Allen, Garnett, and Pierce. The signing of Allen and Garnett caused the greatest single-season improvement in games won in history. The Celtics won 66 games, a 42-game improvement over the previous season’s record. This momentum was enough to propel them into the NBA finals.
The Celtics were matched up against the Lakers in the NBA finals for the first time since 1987, winning a hard-fought series for their 17th NBA title with Paul Pierce as the series
MVP. The 2008-2009 Celtics lost in the second round of the playoffs. The 2009-2010 Celtics
made it to the finals, yet again facing the Lakers for a record 12th time but ultimately lost in
The new big three era ended when Ray Allen signed with Miami Heat in the 2012 off-
season. The Celtics made it to the playoffs in the 2014 season, the 2016 season and the
Eastern Conference Finals in the 2017 season with the help of the newly acquired Kyrie Irving.
The Celtics lost Irving in 2019 but made solid moves in building a strong team for the 2020 season. During the Covid season (2020), the Celtics were one of 22 teams invited to the NBA bubble for the final eight games of the regular season, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the 2020-2021 season, the Celtics made it to the second round of the playoffs. In the 2021- 2022 season, they eventually reached the finals but ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.