Recap - 1940s
Season Recaps - 1940s
1946: Birth Of The Celtics
The Celtics came into being on June 6, 1946. On that
day 11 men (all of whom owned either professional hockey teams,
large arenas in major cities, or both) met to discuss the formation
of a new professional basketball league. They christened the new
league the Basketball Association of America and modeled its
season, which featured a 60-game schedule and a series of
playoffs, after the that of the National Hockey League. The game itself was
based on college basketball, but with the contests lengthened to 48
minutes rather than the 40 played in college.
A driving force behind the BAA was Celtics owner Walter Brown,
who ran the Boston Garden and was part of the NHL's Boston Bruins
organization. Brown hired John "Honey" Russell as his first coach,
and the Celtics' maiden home game was played on November 5, 1946.
The contest began an hour behind schedule because Boston's Chuck
Connors (later the star of television's The Rifleman) splintered a
wooden backboard with a practice dunk before the game. Boston lost
to the Chicago Stags, 57-55, but the 4,329 fans in attendance not
only got to see the Celtics' first-ever home game but also
witnessed the first broken backboard in professional basketball
1946-50: A Four-Year Struggle
The franchise struggled for respectability during its
first four years. The inaugural 1946-47 campaign yielded a 22-38
record and a last-place tie with the Toronto Huskies in the BAA's
Eastern Division. Connie Simmons, a 6-8 center, led the Celtics in
scoring with 10.3 points per game.
The team fared slightly better the following year, managing to
make the playoffs with a 20-28 record. Appearing in their first
postseason contest, the Celtics lost Game 1 to the Chicago Stags,
but they came back to beat the Stags, 81-77, on March 31, 1948, to
claim the franchise's first-ever playoff win. Their playoff hopes
were short-lived, however, as the Stags eliminated the Celtics two
For the 1948-49 campaign Brown hired a new coach, Alvin "Doggie"
Julian, who had guided Holy Cross to an NCAA Championship the year
before. But the results were pretty much the same. Boston's roster
was populated with little-remembered players such as Gene Stump,
Dutch Garfinkel, and Hank Beenders, just 3 of the 18 cagers who
wore Celtics Green that season. The club finished out of the
playoffs with a 25-35 mark.
The BAA merged with the rival National Basketball League prior
to the 1949-50 season. The new league, christened the National
Basketball Association, fielded 17 teams. Julian was back at
Boston's helm for a second year, and the Celtics once again
finished out of the playoffs with a 22-46 record that earned them
the last-place spot in the Eastern Division.