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Breaks of the Game: The Revolving Ownership Door of the Boston Celtics

Jay September 6, 2011 Uncategorized Comments Off

Continuing our series of Celtics related excerpts from David Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game," we take a look at why the Celtics had a revolving door of ownership.  You would think that one of the greatest organizations in sports, not just basketball, would have a short ledger of ownership throughout the years.  The LA Lakers, their chief rivals, had Jack Kent Cooke in their early years in Los Angeles from the 1960's until the late 1970's.  Then, the team was purchased by Jerry Buss and his family has owned it to this day.  That has not been the case for the Celtics.

Beginning with the original owner Walter Brown (1946-1964), they've had roughly twelve different ownership groups in the same time frame that the Lakers have had (some of these groups bought out their partner to take more of a majority share).  After the jump, we can see the full list of owners as well as delve into Halberstam's thoughts as to why this happened with the green.

 Here is the full list of Celtics owners (taken from Wikipedia):

Ownership history

That's a pretty hefty turnover of ownership for one of the greatest franchises in team sports.  Jumping to pages 258-259 in Halberstam's book, we can see why this would happen:

Page258 

Page259 
Ahhh yes the 'ol tax break from Uncle Sam.  Unfortunately most of the owners didn't view the Celtics in the same regard that Walter Brown did or that Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca seem to now.  In fact, the entire Irv Levin and John Y. Brown fiasco could be an entire novel (or Hollywood story) in of itself.

Usually, a successful team both on and off the court/field begins with a strong ownership foundation.  It's a big reason why teams like the Patriots, Yankees, Red Sox, Steelers and Lakers have all had sustained runs of solid seasons.  This makes it all the more impressive that the Celtics were able to maintain their level of dominance in the 1960's and continued success in each decade until the mid-1990's.  Most of this can be attributed to Red Auerbach of course, which is among many reasons why this blog is so fond of him!

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