Formed as a local neighborhood team playing out of the Hudson Guild Settlement House in Hell's Kitchen prior to World War I and calling themselves the New York Celtics, the team would emerge from the war years as the Original Celtics under new owners, Jim and Tom Furey. In 1918, the Furey brothers reassembled their team around a nucleus of those truly "original" Celtics, added other players mostly from the West Side of New York City, and defiantly called his new squad the Original Celtics. They initially played in various struggling professional leagues, before becoming primarily a touring squad which traveled up to 150,000 miles a year while completing a 150-200 game schedule. They won some ninety percent of their games, finishing one year with the unbelievable record of 193-11-1.
The team's first dominant player was "Dutch" Dehnert, a 6'1" (1.85 m) standing guard who some credit with introducing the modern concept of pivot play. When ballhandling wizard Nat Holman (later to coach national championship teams at CCNY) was signed to play for then-coach John Whitty in 1922, the Original Celtics hit their stride. Another "big man", Joe Lapchick, John Beckman, called the "Babe Ruth of basketball", George "Horse" Haggerty and speedy Davey Banks were other outstanding individual players on these squads.
In 1926, the American Basketball League, developed by sports entrepreneur George Preston Marshall, effectively railroaded the team into joining their ranks, by prohibiting member teams from playing against them. The Original Celtics dominated the league in their first two seasons. The team disbanded in 1928, however, because of financial issues. Owner Jim Furey was convicted on embezzlement charges. The payroll had ballooned. Celtics players were apportioned to the other teams. This strategy backfired as game attendance plummeted with the onset of the Great Depression. The ABL folded after the 1931 season.
The Original Celtics briefly reorganized as a barnstorming team in the 1930s, but never duplicated their initial glory. They are often credited with extending the reach of basketball across America, and for instituting the importance of aggressive defensive play. As a group, the team was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959.
At various times in their existence, the team played in the ABL, the Eastern Basket Ball League and the Metropolitan Basketball League. During the 1921-22 season, the team replaced the New York Giants, (whose owner also owned the New York Whirlwinds) during the first half. During the 1922-23 season, the team took over the Atlantic City franchise when it was 4-7 and won five of six games before the Eastern League folded in January, 1923. They also competed in the Metropolitan League but dropped out of the league during the first half after going 12-0. During the 1926-27 season, the team replaced the Brooklyn Arcadians after 5 games, and took the name "Brooklyn Celtics." By the next season they had returned to the name, "New York Celtics". After winning back-to-back ABL championships in 1926-27 and 1927-28, the team was broken up. An attempt to return the team for the 1929-30 season failed, and the team dropped out of the league during the first half on December 10, 1929.
|1921/22||EBL||1st (2nd half)||Champions|
|1926/27||ABL||4th (1st half); 1st (2nd half)||Champions|