The Celtics have come a long way since the vintage New York Original Celtics.

The all-white team that used to battle all-black teams like the New York Rens, Commonwealth Big Five, Ciralsky Meat Packers, and the Harlem Globetrotters, now is an all-black team.

Then …

New York Original Celtics

Bangin’ hard meant giant thigh bruises (Hall of Fame center Joe Lapchick) and eyebrow stitches (Davey Banks).

… promoting a game against the Commonwealth Big Five:

Commonwealth Sporting Club vs. Original Celtics

The Commonwealth Big Five were “Colored Champions” in 1924.

And now …

Boston Celtics

Can today’s Celtics – though unaffiliated with the New York Original Celtics – bang just as hard?

To learn a whole lot more about the New York Original Celtics, check out a great book by Penn State professor Murry Nelson called The Originals.

Meanwhile, will today’s Celtics, their fans, and coach “Doc” Rivers need this book?

Basketball For The Player The Fan And The Coach

The cover art for early Celtics coach Red Auerbach’s book, “Basketball For The Player The Fan And The Coach.”

Or will the Boston Celtics throw this book at the Los Angeles Lakers?

We’ll find out tonight with N.B.A. Finals Game 1 in Boston!

(Original Celtics photo courtesy of Bettman Archives; Boston Celtics photo courtesy of Getty Images.)