Many people wonder why the Boston Celtics basketball team sports shamrocks on the players' green uniforms, and why the team logo features an Irish leprechaun.
According to the team’s official history, the name Celtics was chosen in 1946 when owner Walter Brown sat down with his public relations guy, Howie McHugh, to figure out what to name the new team.
Some of the ideas included the Whirlwinds, Unicorns and Olympics.
Then Brown had an epiphany, saying, “Wait, I’ve got it – the Celtics. The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York (1920s). And Boston is full of Irishman. We’ll put them in green uniforms and call them the Boston Celtics.”
In 1950 Brown hired Red Auerbach to coach the team, and the rest is history.
Auerbach commissioned his brother Zang, a graphic designer in the newspaper business, to come up with a logo to suit the name.
Zang’s artwork incorporated all of the iconic depictions of the Irish in America that were prevalent in the 1950s: a leprechaun with shamrocks on his vest and a bowler hat, smoking a pipe, holding a shillelagh and sporting a mischievous grin!
The logo is said to have brought the Celtics good luck, since they won their first championship in 1957, so it has remained ever since. Seventeen world championships later, the logo at center court is one of Boston’s most cherished icons and a symbol of a great sports franchise.
This St. Patrick's Day, March 17, the Boston Celtics play host to the New York Knicks at the Garden.
© Boston Irish Tourism Association