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From Russell to Bird: The Boston Celtics’ Dominance Through the Decades

By Nostalgic America · June 11, 2024

Yes!!!! The Celtics Are Sports’ Greatest Dynasty

Starting with the 1959 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics won eight consecutive NBA championships extending through the 1966 Finals. During that time frame, Red Auerbach’s teams included such stars as Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and many other all-time greats. The Celtics’ worst regular season record during this time frame was 54-26, and for most of these seasons it was significantly better. Throughout these eight postseasons, the Celtics faced elimination on ten different occasions, and of course, won all ten of them. The Celtics lost in the Eastern Finals in 1967 to the Philadelphia 76ers, but then won two straight championships in 1968 and 1969, to give them 10 championships in 11 seasons. Here are some more great moments and players in Celtics history.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Bill Russell was the Cornerstone of the Celtics Dynasty.

Bill Russell was arguably the most important piece of the Celtics’ 11 championships in his seasons and he played for head coach and the greatest basketball mind the NBA has ever known, Red Auerbach.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Bill Russell Played His Entire 13 Season NBA Career with the Boston Celtics (1956-1969)

Bill Russell, the legendary center for the Boston Celtics, dominated the NBA during his 13-year career from 1956 to 1969. With his unparalleled defensive skills, rebounding prowess, and leadership, Russell led the Celtics to an astonishing 11 NBA championships. His fierce competitiveness and ability to elevate his teammates' performance made him the catalyst for the Celtics' dynasty. Russell's impact extended beyond the court, as he stood as a powerful advocate for civil rights and social justice throughout his life.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Wilt vs. Russell the Greatest Player Rivalry in Sports History

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are two of basketball’s all-time greats who are forever linked together in the annals of the game’s history. They were contemporaries who faced off against each other many times in the biggest of games. But their skill sets differed greatly and each is remembered and revered for different reasons.

Wilt Chamberlain was a scoring machine of epic proportions. He averaged 50.4 points per game for an entire season in 1961-62 and once scored 100 points in a game. He averaged over 30 points and 22 rebounds per game in each of his first nine seasons and he is the only player in NBA history to average over 30 points and 20 rebounds for his career. He played in the NBA for 14 seasons (1959-1973) for the Warriors, 76ers, and Lakers.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Bill Russell was the Team Leader

Russell averaged 15.1 points per game for his career. But he’s fondly remembered for certain qualities that can’t be measured simply by comparing statistics. Russell was a fierce defender and shot blocker (blocked shots weren’t tracked as an official statistic during his career) who made an immeasurable impact on games for his team.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Bill and Wilt Were Friends Off the Court

But fierce rivals on the court. Russell did it all – he scored (less than Wilt but still 15 points per game), he rebounded, he defended, and most importantly he won. Wilt was the more prolific scorer, but he didn’t have all the other qualities and intangibles that Russell had.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Russell Won the Titles and the Awards

Russell was a five-time league MVP (1958, 1961-63, 1965), 12-time NBA All Star, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1968), and The Sporting News Athlete of the Decade (1970).  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Bob Cousy was the Floor Leader

Nicknamed the "Houdini of the Hardwood" by sportswriters, Bob Cousy was best known for his razzle-dazzle, ball-handling abilities. With exceptional peripheral vision, large hands, sloping shoulders, and extremely sturdy legs, Cousy was an outstanding all-around player and is considered by many to be one of the best play makers ever. Cousy had an All-America career at Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders to three NCAA tournaments and the 1947 national championship. He joined the Celtics with coach Red Auerbach, whose upbeat style of coaching suited Cousy's remarkable play-making talents perfectly. From 1957 to 1963, with the combination of Cousy and Hall of Famer Bill Russell, the Celtics became a dynasty winning a total of six championships, five of the wins consecutive. Cousy led the NBA in assists for eight consecutive years (1953-60) and played in thirteen straight NBA All Star games. Cousy's style and reputation made the Celtics a popular draw and helped keep the NBA alive during its infancy.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

What a Dynasty - 11 Championships in 13 Seasons

The Boston Celtics' dynasty from 1957 to 1969 is one of the most remarkable achievements in sports history. Led by the incomparable Bill Russell, the Celtics won an astonishing 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons. This period of dominance was characterized by exceptional teamwork, unselfish play, and a relentless commitment to excellence. With a roster filled with Hall of Famers like Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones, the Celtics set a standard of success that remains unmatched in the NBA. Their legacy continues to inspire and challenge teams to this day.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Red’s Cigar Were His Trademark

Red Auerbach was the architect and mastermind behind one of the most dominant franchises in professional sports history, the Boston Celtics. The cigar-chomping Auerbach expertly steered the Celtics to eight straight NBA championships, a streak unmatched in NBA history. Aggressive, demanding, and often volatile on the bench, Auerbach was the first coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games. His coaching brilliance was showcased in a winning streak of 11 straight All Star contests. Under Auerbach’s watchful eye, the Celtics took ten Eastern Division titles in 16 years. After leaving the bench, Auerbach presided over the Celtics franchise as general manager and president and was affiliated with 16 NBA titles. In 1980, the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America named Auerbach the greatest coach in the history of the NBA. Auerbach was a maverick and the chances he took on personnel, strategy, and front office moves paid off for the Celtics time and time again.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Cooz dominated and started the fast break

Bob Cousy, nicknamed "The Houdini of the Hardwood," was a pivotal figure in the Boston Celtics' early success. As a point guard, Cousy revolutionized the game with his exceptional ballhandling, passing skills, and creativity on the court. His playmaking abilities were instrumental in the Celtics' offense, setting up teammates like Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn for easy baskets. Cousy's leadership and clutch performances helped the Celtics win six NBA championships during his tenure. His impact on the franchise extended beyond his playing days, as he laid the foundation for the Celtics' winning culture that would endure for decades.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Russell Defended

Russell’s intimidation gave the defense the freedom to roam and take chances which led to steals, turnovers, missed shots, and to fast breaks for easy buckets.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Garden was the Celtics Home Team Advantage

The Boston Garden, with its intimate capacity of just 13,909, played a crucial role in the Boston Celtics' success. The arena's tight dimensions and passionate fan base created an electrifying atmosphere that intimidated opponents and energized the home team. The Garden's parquet floor, known for its unique design and dead spots, added an element of unpredictability that the Celtics often used to their advantage. The close proximity of the fans to the court made the Garden a fortress, where the Celtics rarely lost. The Boston Garden's mystique and the Celtics' dominance became intertwined, cementing the arena's status as a basketball mecca.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Celtics had a Complete Team in 1962

The starting five of Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Russell, along with stars off the bench, like K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Jim Loscutoff and Gary Phillips, helped lead the team back to another title in 1962.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Celtics were a Complete Team with Hall of Famers at Every Position

From 1957 to 1969, the Celtics dominated the league winning 11 championships in 13 years, and eight in a row (1959–1966), the longest consecutive streak of any North American pro sports team. The Celtics dominated the league during the late 1950s and 1960s with the help of many Hall of Famers like Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek, KC Jones, Sam Jones, and Tom Sanders.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Celtics are Back in the 1980s

The NBA has changed a lot since 1950, becoming more diverse and bigger. The arrival of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain at that time was a rivalry in itself, and one that took the league to a level never seen before. But what happens when the league’s two biggest stars retire? A guy named Larry Bird arrives to save the day for the Celtics.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Bird Magic Rivalry Saved the NBA

Officially, Larry Bird had already been drafted by the Celtics in 1978 and Magic Johnson was drafted by the Lakers a year later. And another rivalry was created. They will go down in history as the ones who saved professional basketball and gave new life to the Final Four.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images