What is a Celtic? And what lakes are the Lakers named after?

Game seven of the NBA Finals. A familiar rivalry that actually becomes more exciting because the teams have so much basketball history.

Let’s step back from the oomph and ebullience of the Finals for a minute. How much do you know about the basics behind the Celtics/Lakers battle?

What is a Celtic, and why the Boston Celtics?

The Celts were various peoples who lived across Europe when the Roman Empire was expanding. The common factor between the tribal groups was the Celtic family of languages.  The region where Celtic languages still have the strongest presence is Scotland, Wales, part of France, and Ireland.

NBA.com gives the following reason for how the Boston Celtics got their name: Team founder Walter Brown thought of an earlier basketball team from New York named the Celtics and figured since Boston had a large Irish population, the Celtics was a great name to use again. The moniker stuck.

As many commenters have noted, the pronunciation of “Celtic” is a messy thing. While we say the Boston “Celtics” with the C sounding like an S, when one talks about “Celtic” language or anything that refers to Celtic culture, the C sounds like a K. But if we talk about “the Celts” to describe the ancient people of that name, the C sounds like an S. Yet another demonstration that language can be as inconsistent as the world it describes.

Now, the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles isn’t known for bodies of water besides the Pacific. The Los Angeles River is an infamously dry canal paved with concrete. So who put the lake in the Lakers?

Before the Lakers moved to arid Southern California, the team was known as the Minneapolis Lakers. As in Minnesota, “land of 10,000 lakes.” Why did the team owner, Bob Short, keep  the now oxymoronic name? One of the major rules of branding is “If people recognize it, keep it.” Plus, “the Los Angeles Lakers” is the epitome of awesome alliteration.

Do you have any burning questions about basketball names or meaning? (Like the etymology of dribble? Or the origin of foul?) Let us know!