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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Boston Celtics were nearly called the Boston Yankees when team first formed

The Boston Celtics might have well been called the Boston Yankees, according to newspaper stories detailing the team's origins.

When the new Basket Ball Association of American was formed in June 1946, the Boston franchise was owned by Walter Brown, who managed the Boston Garden and was later owner of the Boston Bruins.

In an interview with Boston Globe sports reporter Harold Kaese on July 17, 1946, Brown predicted that basketball would soon be more popular than hockey in Beantown.

"There are more basket ball players and fans around here than hockey players and fans.  Hockey was the big game after the last war; basket ball game will be the big game after this one," Brown is quoted as saying.

Later in the article, Kaese reports:

"NICKNAME - Brown is looking for one.  He welcomes suggestions, may run a contest.  The first nickname offered was Boston Yankees, an extremely bright suggestion."

But Brown apparently had an epiphany to name the team the Celtics, according to Celtics yore, coming up with the name in a conversation with local publicity man Howie McHugh.  Just over a  month later, a Boston Globe article by Jack Barry on August 20, 1946,  referred to the team as the Boston Celtics.  

Another possible influence on naming the team -- Brown hired as his first coach John "Honey" Russell, who had previously coached  the Original Celtics, a legendary barnstorming basketball team out of New York City in the 1920s.

For the official history of the early Boston Celtics click here.

For more on Boston's Irish-American history, visit

Posted by Boston Irish Tourism Association

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