On this day in Boston Celtics history in 1959, the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers was born as the Celtics defeated their longtime rivals — then in Minnesota, known for its lakes — as their first NBA Finals series came to an end with a 118-113 triumph for the Massachusetts franchise.
It was, Boston fans will be happy to hear, a sweep of four games in a row for the Celtics, who won the seven-game series to take home the first of eight NBA championships in a row, a feat that has yet to be replicated. For what it’s worth, it was also only one of two times a team with a losing record — the Lakers — made it to the Finals.
But, it began a long tradition of the two teams meeting in the NBA Finals over the decades that would be closer than this initial series might have one think.
Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics weeps with joy on the bench after playing 47 out of 48 minutes of the game against the St. Louis Hawks at Boston Garden, Boston, Ma., April 9, 1960. The Celtics defeated the Hawks, 122-103, to win their third National Basketball Association Championship in four years. (AP Photo)
It was a year later in 1960 that the Celtics defeated the (then) St. Louis Hawks (now, Atlanta) 122-103 in Game 7 of the 1960 NBA Finals to win their third NBA Championship.
Wing Frank Ramsey led all scorers with 24 points and 13 rebounds, and legendary big man Bill Russell chipped in 22 points and an absurd 35 boards.
Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images
It is also the date of Boston legend John Havlicek’s last home game in 1978, a 131-114 win over the Buffalo (New York) Braves (now, the Los Angeles Clippers — or Celtics, depending on how you parse things).
Hondo scored 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists in the final game of his storied career.
It was the last game of the 1977-78 regular season, and with the team’s 32-50 record, there was no postseason to play in for the Celtics.
The jersey of former Boston Celtic player Jo Jo White hangs over a seat prior to a game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Today was the date of Jo Jo White’s No. 10 jersey going up into the rafters in a ceremony at the Boston Garden in 1982.
White was one of the All-Time greats in the NBA’s — never mind Boston’s — history, with two banners, seven All-Star Games, and an NBA Finals MVP among many other honors to his name.
Jack Nichols’ championship team (Wikipedia/public domain)
It is the birthday of former Celtic power forward Jack Edward Nichols, who was with Boston for five seasons between 1953 and 1958, where he won a championship in 1957, the first of many for the Celtics.
He averaged 8.7 points, 7.2 boards, and 1.7 assists in his Boston tenure, the final three seasons of which he was also attending Tufts Dental School full time.
He retired from basketball in 1958, having earned his doctoral degree in dentistry.
Apr 9, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots during the second half defended by Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
It was on this day in a 145-136 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves that star Celtics forward Jayson Tatum scored a (then) career-high 53 points.
“Scoring 50 is a big thing in this league and especially at this age,” Tatum said at the time via the AP. “It’s a night I will always remember. First 50-point game and we got the win on top of that. … Every win right now is big. So we’ll take it.”
Apr 9, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots while defended by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
In the same game, veteran guard Marcus Smart passed Larry Bird’s career 3-point total with his 650th trey.
It should be noted that in Bird’s era, the 3 was much more rarely used — and the first-ever made in league history happened to come in Bird’s debut game with the Celtics, and later made the first 3 in All-Star game history as well.
Today is also the day former Celtics point guard John Joseph McCarthy left us in 2020.
A Canisius alum drafted by the (then) Rochester Royals (now, Sacramento Kings) in 1956, McCarthy played for that team into its era as the Cincinnati Royals, the (then) St. Louis (now, Atlanta) Hawks, and the American Basketball League’s (ABL — a defunct, competing league of the NBA) (also defunct) Pittsburgh Rens before signing with Boston in 1963.
He played just 28 games that season for the team, averaging 1.3 points and as many rebounds per game over that time — rest in peace.