The Boston Celtics are one of the original NBA teams from the late 1940s when the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to form the National Basketball Association. In fact, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks (Knickerbockers) are the only two original teams left that have not moved cities or changed names. The Celtics were not good during the first few seasons playing in the new league. Then in 1950, they hired Red Auerbach to coach the team, who would end up being one of the best coaches in NBA history. The next two seasons the Celtics would draft two future Hall of Famers in Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. Auerbach would go on to coach 11 Hall of Famers, and from 1957-1966 the Celtics would win nine out of 10 NBA Championships, including eight straight, which is the longest streak of championships in all of professional North American sports.
The story of the Celtics logo has as much history as the team. The first logo was a simple shamrock design in a green circle with the words “Celtics”. Simple, but not very inspiring. After hiring Auerbach to coach the team, they also hired his brother to design a new logo. Zang Auerbach’s logo was a leaping leprechaun named “Lucky”. Lucky was wearing a green vest and a crown that said “NBA” while smoking a pipe and holding an Irish shillelagh in his hand.
In 1969, Lucky the Leprechaun was redesigned to a more familiar image, getting closer to what he looks like today. He is spinning a basketball on one hand while leaning on his shillelagh with the other hand. The crown has been replaced by a green bowler hat. This image of Luckey was superimposed on an orange basketball with the words “Boston Celtics” around it.
Lucky got one more redesign in 1977 when a pipe was added and the orange basketball background was replaced by a green circle with the words “Boston Celtics”. In this version, Lucky is winking with his left eye. The 1977 version of the Lucky logo is only two colors, green and white. In 1996, the 50th anniversary of the team, the logo remained the same but Lucky was treated to a color upgrade. His buckle shoes and pants were colored black, while his vest was gold with green shamrocks, and his hat and tie match the vest. The basketball and shillelagh are both orangish-brown. This colorized version of the Lucky the Leprechaun logo is still used today.
Lucky the Leprechaun is one of the classic American sports logos. It does an excellent job representing the Irish cultural heritage of the city of Boston. It has only slightly changed from its original design over the past 75 years. Bostonians seem to love the logo, which accounts for its longevity. As long as the Celtics remain in Boston, Lucky will remain on their logo.
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