From the late-1950's through the late-1980's the Boston Celtics were either winning championships or playing a major role in the post season. This mind-boggling era of supremacy may have been even longer had it not been for two tragedies. In 1986, with an aging, but still competitive team, the Celtics drafted Maryland standout Len Bias. Slated to be the team's next superstar, Bias died 48 hours after being drafted after he tried cocaine for the first time. In 1993, another burgeoning superstar, Reggie Lewis, died of a heart attacked while working out in the offseason. He was just 27.
After Lewis' death, the team went from a perennial contender to a perennial lottery team. Between 1996 and 2007, the Celtics reached the playoffs just four times. Then, in the 2007 off-season, the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Paul Pierce. That season those three superstars led the Celtics to the NBA Finals. In the Finals, the C's defeated their hated rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2 to claim their 17th World Championship.
The Celtics play in the Atlantic Division of the NBA's Eastern Conference and they call TD Garden home. This history making franchise was founded in 1946. In 1950, they became the first NBA franchise to draft a black player, Chuck Cooper. In 1964, the Celtics were the first NBA team to have an all African American starting five. In 1967, the Celtics made player-coach Bill Russell the first black coach in league history.
The Celtics dominated the NBA between 1957 and 1969. In those 13 seasons the team won 11 championships. During this era, the C's were led by legendary coach Red Auerbach and featured hall of famers Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, and Tommy Hensohn. Other greats that have worn Celtic green include Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale. Cousy, Russell, Cowens, and Bird have combined to win 10 MVP awards.
The Celtics have fierce rivalries with the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76'ers. However, their arch nemesis is the Los Angeles Lakers. As of 2010, those two great professional basketball franchises have faced each other in the NBA Finals 11 times.