Boston Celtics All-Decade Teams: The 1940s

Ed Sadowski
Guest post by The Sports Hayes

Welcome to the Boston Celtics All-Decade Teams. Other than the New York Knicks, the Celtics are the only NBA team left in its original city since its inception. Its roots go all the way back to 1946-47. I never bought into the Celtics "mystique" and "tradition" because New York Yankee fans use the same baloney, but there is no denying the success the franchise has had for generations.  So let's get started...

The 1940's

Back in 1946 the NBA didn't exist. The two leagues heading into the 1946-47 season were the mid-west based National Basketball League and the north-east based Basketball Asssociation of America. The Celtics played in the BAA for 3 years before the two leagues merged to become the NBA we know today in 1949. The Celtics in those days quite frankly sucked. They were behind the 8-ball in their inception because owner Walter Brown didn't have enough money to bring in top talent when the league first formed and their drafting was terrible as well. With just 4 years and not much talent, this list can be debated. We'll call this the pre-Auerbach era.

Coach - Doggie Julian

There were only two choices to choose from so it could have gone either way. John "Honey" Russell was the
Doggie Julian
team's first coach who made his name in the barnstorming days of the 20's and 30's before becoming a legendary college coach at Seton Hall. In those days coaches multi-tasked, so Honey Russell couldn't report to the Celtics early in 1946 because he was managing a minor league baseball team. Imagine Brad Stevens coaching the Pawtucket Red Sox today. Russell's teams were lousy but the second one made the playoffs before he called it quits. Doggie Julian was a hall of fame college coach at Holy Cross and Dartmouth who led Holy Cross to the NCAA title in 1947 and almost repeated in 1948. Because he had a better coaching pedigree, especially after leaving the Celtics, I gotta go with Doggie on this one.


Center - Ed Sadowski

This is the only no-brainer on this team. He was the Celtics first superstar after being signed as a free agent for the 1947-48 season. He was 3rd in the league in scoring that year and due to a ridiculous playoff format, he led the Celtics to a playoff win against the Chicago Stags. He was traded in the off-season because, believe it or not, he made Carmello Anthony look like John Stockton. He once stopped a game and took over the huddle to let the team (and Russell) know that the fans were there to see HIM and to give him the damn ball. Try getting away with that now, still, he was the team's first all-star so he belongs here for sure.

Connie Simmons
Forward - Connie Simmons

Simmons was the Celtics leading scorer for the inaugeral 1946-47 Celtics, which isn't saying much. Still, the team goofed because he was just entering his prime and they dumped him a year later to the Baltimore Bullets (now known as Washington Wizards). The Bullets ended up winning the BAA championship in 1948 and Simmons went on to a productive career.

Forward - George Kaftan

The star of the 1947 Holy Cross championship team (Bob Cousy was just a freshman and was used sparingly believe it or not. He and Doggie Julian didn't get along). Kaftan was the team's center but at 6'4 there was no way he could go up against George Mikan (the star Lakers center) so he was switched to forward. As with the case of a lot of college stars, the pro game is radically different where you need to be tough as well as talented. Kaftan had 2 marginally good seasons for the Celtics before Red Auerbach cleaned house of the "local yokels".


Guard - Tony Lavelli

He was the embodiment of the pre-Auerbach Cetlics. He wasn't tough, he was a local guy, and he drew tickets with a sideshow rather than his play on the court. The shooter from Yale would entertain the crowd at halftime with his accordian.  Imagine Kelly Olynyk playing the trombone at half-court while the rest of the team gets ready for the second-half. That's how desperate for attention the pre-Russell Celtics were, they had to do stuff like that to sell tickets. Lavelli had an ok 1949-50 season, once defeating the world champion Lakers, but was gven the heave-ho by Auerbach a year later.

Guard - Jim Seminoff

One of the only guys that belong on here. He was a playmaker that was 3rd in the league in assists in 1948 for
Jim Seminoff
Chicago and 6th in the league in assists the following season with the Celtics. He was 8th in the league in assists in 1950 before being dumped by Auerbach. He wasn't a flashy scorer but in the days where earning an assist wasn't as easy as passing the ball around today, being 3rd and 6th in the league is a true accomplishment.


Center - George Nostrand

  This could have been anyone really. The Celtics had a revolving door at center, Al Brightman in 47, Sadowski in 48, Nostrand in 49, etc. He's the best of the rest almost by default.

Forward - Wyndol Gray

Gray was the starting forward on the inaugural 1946-47 Celtics and had a mediocre season but compared to a lot of guys who came and went, not just on the Celtics but in the BAA in general, mediocre is better than most.

Forward - Jack Garfinkel

He was a star in the NBL before coming over to the BAA and, like Gray, was mediocre but not absolutely incompetent.

Art Spector
Guard - Art Spector

Spector was the longest tenured original Celtic, lasting from the inception through the middle of the 1949-50 season. Because of his longevity, he makes the 2nd-team.

Eddie Ehlers
Guard - Eddie Ehlers

Here's another one where he's on the list almost by default. His claim to fame is being the Celtics first draft pick in team history. There was no formal draft when the BAA first formed and Ehlers was picked first in the summer of 1947. He played for 2 years and was gone.

Extra - Joe Mullaney

Mullaney once went on record saying he was "a benchwarmer on the worst Celtics team of all time". The 1950 Celtics were one of the worst teams of all time but they don't hold a candle to the 97 edition. Still, Mullaney played one year but then went on to coach in college, the ABA and the NBA...often falling just short of winning the championship. So for his contributions as a coach, he's on the list.

12th man - Chuck Connors

Connors was so incompetent as a player, his own coach Honey Russell once told the team to keep the ball away from him. So why is he here? He later became a television star, most notably in the popular western "The Rifleman" back when westerns were the number one shows to watch. He also played pro-baseball as well so while he was a clumsy Celtic, he was still famous elsewhere.

The Rifleman, Chuck Connors

That about wraps up the all-40's teams. It was slim pickins' for the first few years because Auerbach showed up.

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