Boston hopes to add jewel to crown

Fred Jeter | 6/6/2024, 6 p.m.
At least unofficially, professional basketball’s high throne sits at 100 Legends Way in Boston, draped in green.
Jayson Tatum

At least unofficially, professional basketball’s high throne sits at 100 Legends Way in Boston, draped in green.

That’s the location of TD Garden and the home of the 17-time NBA champion Boston Celtics, who hope to add an 18th crown soon against the Dallas Mavericks.

The NBA Finals begin June 6 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

Boston’s all-time regular season record of 3,634-2,480 and playoff record (in 61 appearances) of 407-312 is the envy of others.

The Lakers also have 17 titles, but the first five came when the franchise was in Minneapolis. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960.

Latest chapter: Boston’s 64-18 regular season record was the best of all 30 NBA teams. Never tapping the brakes, it bested both Miami and Cleveland, four wins to one,

in the playoffs. The Celtics then took a 3-0 lead over Indiana in the East Finals.

In the beginning: Originating in 1946, Boston got its nickname from the Original Celtics, a barnstorming group playing an Eastern League schedule out of New York.

Other nickname possibilities bandied about were Whirlwinds, Olympians and Unicorns.

Owner Walter A. Brown went with Celtics and basic green color scheme, noting “there are a lot of Irishmen in Boston.”

Famous “shooter:” the 1950 Celtics included a 6-foot-6 center named Chuck Connors, better known to many as “The Rifleman” on TV.

Another Chuck: A powerful forward out of Duquesne University of Pittsburgh, Chuck Cooper joined Boston in 1950 after becoming the first Black player to be drafted by an NBA team.

Breaking barriers: The NBA owners had a long-standing “gentleman’s agreement” never to have five black players on the floor at same time.

That changed Dec. 26, 1964, when Coach Red Auerbach added Willie Naulls to the regular lineup including Russell, Sam and K.C. Jones and Satch Sanders.

It became the first all-Black lineup in NBA annals. And, of course, the Celtics ran off 12 straight wins with that quintet first on the floor.

Glory days: Led by brilliant center Bill Russell and numerous other Naismith Hall of Famers to be, Boston won 11 championships between 1957 and 1966. It is the most impressive string of titles in any American pro sport.

804 Connection: Gerald Henderson (Huguenot High, VCU) played with Boston from 1979 to 1984, helping the Celts to NBA titles in 1981 and 1984. John Kuester (Benedictine) was an assistant coach from 1995 to 1997.

Bird is the word: Then Celtics’ President Red Auerbach had to hold his breath through the first five picks of the 1978 NBA Draft.

Mychal Thompson, Phil Ford, Rick Robey, Michael-Ray Richarson and Purvis Short were selected before Auerbach made Bird the sixth overall pick. The Indiana State All-American went on win three MVPs and help Boston to three NBA crowns.

Triple trouble: The trio of Bird (1979-92), Kevin McHale (1980-93) and Robert Parish (1980-94) put Boston in a commanding position for more than a decade. All are in Naismith Hall of Fame.

All-time Celtics: Certainly, Russell was the franchise’s player of the 1950s and 1960’s. Bird was the man of the hour from late 1970s and early 1990s.

But the leading light Celtic of the 21st century might be current sensation Jayson Tatum, the multitalented 6-foot-8 forward from Duke University.

Tatum’s career scoring averages of 23.1 for the regular season and 23.8 for the playoffs stack up well with anyone ever wearing the green.

As in Bird’s case, management had to nervously wait until the third overall pick to snare their superstar. Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Bell went before him.

Tatum, by choice, wears No. 0 but he’s the undisputed hero along 100 Legends Way with five all-star picks and three-time All-NBA selections.

Floorboards: The original Boston Garden and now TD Garden (since 1995) feature distinctive parquet flooring, rarely seen anywhere else.

Longtime Celtics’ fans consider the parquet as part of the “legend,” right along with Russell, Bird and Tatum.

Shhh. It’s long been whispered the floor has some dead spots in locations only men wearing green know of.