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How did the Boston Celtics get their name?

The NBA franchise was given its name by team founder Walter Brown, who opted for the Celtics over other suggestions such as the Unicorns and the Olympics.

The NBA franchise was given its name by founder Walter Brown, who opted for the Celtics over other suggestions such as the Unicorns and the Olympics.

The Boston Celtics, who are one game down in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat, owe their nickname to founder Walter Brown, who chose the moniker when he established the franchise in June 1946.

The general manager of the Boston Garden, a sports arena that would go on to be the Celtics’ home court until 1995, Brown created the franchise as one of the eight founding members of the American Basketball Association - a competition that then merged with the National Basketball League in 1949, to form the National Basketball Association.

“Boston is full of Irishmen”

Brown’s decision to call his team the Celtics was a nod to Boston’s large Irish-American population, caused chiefly by a wave of immigration from Ireland in the 19th century. The choice was also inspired by the Original Celtics, a well-known basketball team that had been created by Irish immigrants in New York earlier in the 20th century, before folding in 1930.

According to the NBA’s official history of the Boston Celtics, Brown settled on the team’s nickname during a conversation with Howie McHugh, who was part of the Boston Garden’s publicity team. Names such as the Whirlwinds, the Unicorns and the Olympics had been put forward, before Brown said: “Wait, I’ve got it - the Celtics. We’ll call them the Boston Celtics!

Brown continued: “The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York. And Boston is full of Irishmen. We’ll put them in green uniforms and call them the Boston Celtics!” McHugh is said to have been less than enthused by the nickname, but proved unable to persuade Brown not to adopt it.

The Celtics’ mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun, and the team’s use of logos depicting a leprechaun and a shamrock, are further references to Boston’s significant Irish connections.

According to the most recent data compiled by the US Census Bureau, 13.6.% of the just over 675,000 residents of the city claim Irish ancestry. Throughout the seven-million-strong state of Massachusetts, of which Boston is the capital, the percentage of people who report having Irish roots rises to 19.7.

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The Celtics underestimated the Heat and paid the price in Game 1, with the visitors coming into the notorious lions den and snatching a victory to put Boston on the back foot. The Celtics will need to fight an uphill battle to even things up before the series heads down to Miami. Tip-off at TD Garden is at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT.

You’ll be able to follow the Heat vs Celtics live with AS USA - join Dane Arlauckas for live-text coverage of the game.


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