The day the Boston Celtics became the Buffalo Braves, now known as the Los Angeles Clippers


On July 8 in 1978, one of the weirdest chapters of the storied franchise’s history unfolded as the Celtics became the (then) Buffalo Braves (now, Los Angeles Clippers) and the Braves the Celtics.

Confused? You should be — it is perhaps the only time in the history of major North American professional sports that franchise owners swapped ownership of their respective franchises in a move that has largely been forgotten by fans, buried by the sands of time. Save when Los Angeles Lakers fans get angered by Boston fans suggesting the Lakers ought to eschew counting their titles from when the team was based in Minneapolis, anyway.

Boston’s owner at the time — Irv Levin — wanted to move to the west coast, but there was no way the NBA would approve a move for the Celtics to go there with him.

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Instead, one the suggestion of NBA lawyer and future commissioner David Stern, he pitched Buffalo’s owner, John Y. Brown, to swap franchises, and Brown agreed. The move was approved by the league’s Board of Governors by a 21-1 vote (the lone dissenting team appears lost to history), and the two teams also traded most of their respective rosters to maintain continuity. https://twitter.com/FlyByKnite/status/1193417322947469312?s=20

At the time, Levin considered — but ultimately decided against — demanding the inclusion of an interesting prospect out of Indiana.

“I absolutely could have had Larry Bird if I wanted. No question about it,” Levin said via the New York Time’s Peter May. “But I knew Red was very high on the kid and I felt if I took Bird to San Diego, Red would in some way make sure that he never signed with me. It was too risky. We were starting a new franchise. Of course, had I known then what I know now, I would have taken that risk.”

The Braves decamped from upstate New York that summer, and reinvented themselves as the San Diego Clippers. Very, very strange — but true! https://twitter.com/benshulman7/status/1280591389345144833 This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=53472,53469,53462,53456] [listicle id=53333]

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