Ever Wonder Series: Why do the Celtics have a parquet floor?

Ever Wonder Series: Why do the Celtics have a parquet floor?

The Boston Celtics play their home games sandwiched by history with the 17 championship banners that hang above and the fabled parquet floor beneath.

Ever wonder how the Celtics ended up with such a unique court design?

The parquet look was the product of a lumber shortage as the Celtics prepared to debut in the Basketball Association of America in 1946. In the aftermath of World World II, many common items were in short supply, including professionally cut wood. Most manufactured wood had been earmarked for residential housing as servicemen returned home.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

“What Walter Brown, the original owner of the Celtics, did in order to I guess attract fans and attract good players maybe back then — an early selling point — was to get a good, quality floor made,” said Jeff Twiss, who is officially the Celtics vice president of media services and alumni relations, but, unofficially, earned the title of team historian after more than three decades with the organization.

"The only way they could do that was getting scraps of wood at lumber yards throughout Boston and put together a floor. And it just happened to be in patterns that formed a parquet-type of a design."

Brown had his team’s basketball court constructed for $11,000 using surplus scraps of northern Tennessee red oak. The pieces were laid out in alternating pattern, creating the parquet effect. In total, there were 247 5-foot by 5-foot square panels held together by wood planks, brass screws, and 988 bolts.

The Celtics utilized that same floor for 53 years while playing first at Boston Arena (now Northeastern’s Matthews Arena), then Boston Garden, and, later, the FleetCenter. Many bemoaned the team’s decision to replace the original parquet in 1999, citing the history it possessed, including 16 world championships, but some of the floor boards were worn perilously thin by the end of the original floor’s run.

"Nowadays, the floors are maintained and I think they are resurfaced every year or two, so the maintenance is much more meticulous,” said Twiss. "It’s funny, I don’t how many times between 1946 and 1999, that Garden floor was resurfaced. I’m going to say it wasn’t maybe enough to count on two hands over all those years. So the care and the consideration to maintaining the high quality of it has certainly changed over the years.”

The parquet developed a lore of its own because of that wear, especially from the dead spots where a worn board or a protruding screw might mess with a ball-handler’s cadence. Opponents used to insist that Red Auerbach’s teams would purposely funnel players to those dead spots in hopes of forcing turnovers.

"'It was unique because it looked like no other floor,'' Bill Russell told the New York Times in 2000. "But what was most significant about the floor was that teams found it distracting. And that was all right. … It was part of our legend for kicking everybody's butts.”

Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

Twiss confirmed that a ball didn’t always bounce the way an opponent might expect in certain spots of the original floor. He added, "There was also kind of wood shavings and also like strips that were part of holding all these panels together and, in that, if you happen to look down every so often, you’d see a little bit of a space in between those panels, so they wouldn’t be flush up against each other. That’s maybe adding to the mystique of the dead spots.”

Original pieces of the parquet floor have become cherished mementos. The Celtics auctioned off chunks from 40 of the panels after the original floor was retired. The Celtics often gift retiring players with small pieces of past floors as well.

“[Some opponents] used to dislike — I won’t use the word hate — but disliked playing against the Celtics, disliked all the banners, disliked all we’ve done in our great history. Yet they get [a piece of the parquet], and tears are coming down their eyes,” said Twiss.

This is a piece of fabric from Celtics lore and Celtics history, but now they’ve got it. … They are very touched by it and it’s very special to say, yeah, you played on that part, you probably stood there, and made a free throw or wherever the piece is from on the floor.

Twice in the past 21 years, the Celtics have replaced the Garden floor, adding shock absorption beneath the surface in hopes of reducing wear and tear on players’ bodies. The parquet design persists, both inside TD Garden, where Auerbach’s name now graces the court, and on both courts at the team’s practice facility at the Auerbach Center in Brighton.

The parquet floor is now a symbol of Boston’s success as much as the championship banners that hang above it.

"This floor was a part of all [the Celtics’ success],” Bob Cousy said when the team retired the original floor in 1999. "It watched over the greatest sports team dynasty that ever was, and probably ever will be.”

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

The NBA's bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will provide the players with plenty of fun activities -- bowling, golf, movies, video games and ping pong, among others -- in their spare time. This doesn't mean the environment will be without challenges, though.

The Boston Celtics traveled down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and they will be staying at the Gran Destino Tower during the league's restart.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

Not every player will be in perfect basketball shape once practices ramp up soon. That's understandable, and it's a challenge the players eventually will overcome. The mental challenges will be the most important -- and maybe the toughest -- to battle through given the uniqueness of the situation. 

In the latest episode of the The Enes Kanter Show podcast, Celtics center Enes Kanter explained the importance of mental strength in the league's bubble.

"All we have to do is get in game shape. We all know how to play basketball. It's like riding a bike -- you can't forget how to play basketball," Kanter said. "You can be a little rusty and get back into shape. But I think the important thing is the mental part because you're away from your family and loved ones for three months and now all you have is your basketball family and coaches. That's why the 3-month period before Orlando was so important to keep building that chemistry. I think now we're all bonding and the chemistry is really good. We all care about each other. We're just going to go out there and play golf, go bowling and fish all day, and other than that just play basketball. I feel, besides from the games, you can actually just relax. Read a book, just invest in yourself."

Enes Kanter Show: C's center gives first impressions of NBA bubble | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The bubble was made to ensure the players can continue playing in an environment that's as safe and as healthy as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Players won't have the same freedom they normally do on the road, and the teams that are mentally tough and well prepared likely will enjoy the most success in Orlando.

Kanter is in no mood to complain. He's going to make the most out of the opportunity to compete for a championship, and you can bet his Celtics teammates will have a similar attitude. 

"Love it or hate, you're going to be here for three months," Kanter said. "So you might as well look at the positive side of it.

Check out The Enes Kanter Show on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below:

Celtics at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Celtics at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart often plays like a superhero on the basketball court.

The versatile guard plays multiple positions on offense and guards all five positions on defense. He'll hit 3-pointers, set up the offense, dive on the floor for loose balls, guard the opposing teams' best player, etc. There aren't many things Smart can't provide the Celtics. This all-around skill set is quite valuable to the C's, especially on defense. Smart was named to the league's All-Defensive first team last season, and he deserves a spot in that group again in 2019-20. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

In the latest episode of Celtics at Home, one of the topics in the Celtics Census segment was, "which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?"

We asked 300 Celtics fans for the top six answers, and several of them are superheroes you would definitely associate with a player who excels on the defensive end of the court.

NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin and former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins teamed up against C's head coach Brad Stevens and Smart to see who could come up with the right answers. 

Watch the video below to find out which team won. Be sure to check out the NBC Sports Boston YouTube page for more Celtics at Home videos and other content.