The Boston Celtics are a member of the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division within the National Basketball Association. Its history dates back to 1946 as the team is one of the league’s original eight teams. The Celtics are one of the most successful teams in the league, having won 17 NBA championships. Not only are the Celtics a successful team on the court, but off the court, the team is just as recognizable thanks in part to its leprechaun logo that’s been in use for more than 50 years.
Boston Celtics History
In 1911, New York City’s first recreational basketball league launched, and many of the teams based their names on their home neighborhoods. A group of English immigrants from Chelsea opted for Celtics. This original Celtics team disbanded once the United States entered World War I. Once the war ended, Thomas and Jim Furey rebranded the team as the Original Celtics and took them into the professional circuit. The team dominated New York basketball, where they were credited with instilling zone defense, low-post play, and man-to-man defense.
This Celtics team ended up joining the American Basketball League until the league folded. The team tried to return on its own, but it had difficulty and ended up folding in the 1940s. However, while this team ended, another team was poised to take its place.
The Basketball Association of America began operation in 1946, and the Boston Celtics officially began on June 6 when Walter A. Brown founded the team. At the time, he headed the Boston Garden Arena Corporation. Several nicknames for the teams surfaced, including Unicorns, Olympians, and Whirlwinds, but Brown wanted something different. He opted for Celtics even though he received some pushback from others who reminded him of the failed venture by the Boston Shamrocks football team.
Still, Brown persisted. He stated that the Celtics name referred to the great basketball tradition of the Original Celtics of New York. Since Boston was full of Irishmen, he thought this new team should wear green and be called the Boston Celtics.
By the fall of 1949, the Basketball Association of America became part of the National Basketball Association, and the Celtics officially became a part of the NBA. During the first few years, the Celtics struggled until the hiring of Red Auerbach as the head coach. In just a few years, he helped the team become a dynasty. The Celtics won their first championship in 1957, followed by eight more from 1959 to 1966. The team found a resurgence during the 1980s, highlighted by competing against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Today, the Celtics are one of the NBA’s winningest franchises with 32 division titles, nine conference titles, and 17 championship titles. The Celtics also have a record of 40 players inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Some of the team’s most notable athletes to don Celtic green include Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Paul Pierce, and Bill Russell.
Boston Celtics Logo History
To celebrate the team’s Irish and Celtic name, the Boston Celtics wanted a logo that embraced both that aspects. The team settled on a shamrock, which brings forth luck, and it’s found on all logos, whether it’s the main focal point or a decorative feature. Unlike other teams, a Boston Celtics logo in black and white never existed because all the team’s logos include a green color scheme.
1947-1950: Original Celtics Logo
The Boston Celtics’ first logo featured a white shamrock with the wordmark “CELTICS” in a sans-serif font. This word stretched out in an arch above the Boston Celtics clover. Both the shamrock and words were wrapped in a green circle, which has a red border.
1951-1960: Leprechaun Logo
In 1951, the leprechaun logo made its first appearance. Red Auerbach’s brother Zang created the leprechaun, which was nicknamed Lucky. The logo was mainly white, but Lucky wore a green vest with white shamrocks. This splash of green color maintained the signature color palette of the team. This happy leprechaun, which resembled more of a jester, wore a crown with “NBA” on it, had a pipe in his mouth, and held an oak cane in his left hand. He was seen jumping with his knees bent, and on his feet were buckled shoes.
1961-1968: Orange Background Logo
The team kept the old Celtics logo but made a slight change by adding an orange background. This burst of color created a better contrast against the white leprechaun. The background shape mimicked that of the leprechaun, and he didn’t change at all from the old Boston Celtics logo.
1968-1974: Leprechaun in a Basketball Logo
The jumping leprechaun was replaced by a standing one. This one is spinning a ball on his right pointer finger and leaning on a cane with his left hand. He’s decked from head-to-toe in green attire, including a bowler hat, pants, bow tie, and a green-and-white vest. On his feet are black buckled shoes. This green-and-white silhouette sits on a red background that’s shaped like a basketball. The white “BOSTON CELTICS” wordmark is in an arch around the leprechaun.
1974-1996: Refined Leprechaun Logo
The present-day logo got its start from this logo that debuted in 1974. The entire logo went back to the green-and-white theme. This leprechaun received a refinement, as he had sleeker and more confident lines. His smirk evoked a sense of mystery and intrigue, and he was winking his left eye. He still wears his customary outfit with buckled shoes, white pants, and a white shirt. He also sports several pieces of clothing with green shamrock print, including a vest, bow tie, and ribbon around the bowler hat.
The old red basketball background is gone and replaced with a green ring. The basketball that he balanced on his finger is enlarged and comes out of the green form, which is where the modified wordmark is placed.
1997-Present: Colorful Leprechaun Logo
This logo has been the team’s main logo for more than 25 years. This world-famous leprechaun is the same one found in the old Boston Celtics logo, but this one is in color. The leprechaun’s skin has color, which makes the other parts of the logo stand out. His shirt, socks, the brim of the hat, and pipe stayed white, while the parts that had the green shamrock print also stayed green.
The other part of his vest, tie, buckles on the shoes, and ribbon on the hat become a beige color. The basketball and cane turn to tile red, while the wordmark and color scheme for the green frame remains the same.
Boston Celtics Alternate Logo
In addition to the main logos, the Boston Celtics introduced alternate logos to extend the team’s brand. Unlike the main logos, which the team stopped using after unveiling the next one, all alternate logos are still being used today. Most of these alternate logos are used on sports apparel or other types of merchandise and not on uniforms.
1946-Present: Celtics Script Logo
This simple logo has the “Celtics” wordmark in a green script. A green cloverleaf sits above the second “C” and “S.” The team also used a reverse image of this script with the lettering in white with a green outline. The cloverleaf was also outlined in green.
1998-Present: Shamrock Logo
You’ll notice this alternate logo looks very similar to the team’s original logo. This one has a green three-leaf clover inside a white circle. The circle has a green outline to make it stand out. The “CELTICS” wordmark is in an arch and wraps around the clover. The team also toyed around using a reverse image of this logo, with the white clover and letters inside a green circle.
2015-Present: Lucky Alternate Logo
In 2014, the Celtics felt it was a good time to update the alternate logo with something fresh. Created in-house, this logo features a white silhouette of Lucky against a green background. He’s still wearing the traditional bowler hat, smoking his pipe, and spinning a basketball on his finger. The “BOSTON CELTICS” appear in block letters surrounding the image. It reproduces well when used for either one- or two-color prints, and it can be used with or without the outer border ring that includes the wordmark.
The team decided to stick with the iconic silhouette because people know exactly what they’re looking at, even if it’s just an outline of Lucky. With this alternate logo, Lucky’s finer details received slight modifications so when the image is printed at a smaller scale, it’s still recognizable.
As one of the first teams in the NBA, the Boston Celtics have earned 17 championships, which account for more than 24% of all championships since the league’s founding in 1946. The Boston Celtics logo in 2020 represented the history of the franchise by wishing it luck. Celebrate the team’s accomplishments by wearing some sports collectibles that feature the Celtics and its familiar leprechaun logo. Fanatics has a variety of officially licensed sports apparel from teams across all leagues, so pick up a few pieces of memorabilia to add to your sports collection today.