71°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Making the Case for the Red Claws to Relocate

It’s been nearly a month since the NBA tipped off its 2017-18 season. But November also marks the beginning of another professional basketball league’s campaign. That would be the NBA’s own minor league, the G League, named after NBA partner Gatorade, formerly known as the NBA D-League. There are 26 teams in the G League. Since there are 30 in the NBA, that means some NBA teams don’t have their own minor league affiliate.

The Boston Celtics have had their own G League club since 2009, the Portland-based Maine Red Claws. In recent years, the club has become one of the best in the league, winning their division in their last three seasons and winning their first playoff series in club history last season. While they’ve been popular with the locals in Portland, the club’s somewhat considerable distance from their NBA parent club in Boston has added some inconvenience for players, in the case of promotion or demotion, traveling between the two teams.

Of the 26 G League teams, only three are farther away from their parent cities than the Red Claws, they are Miami’s Sioux City Skyforce, Atlanta’s Erie BayHawks, and Sacramento’s Reno Bighorns. Compared with popular NBA franchises like the New York Knicks, whose G League club is much closer to them, the Celtics are at a disadvantage in terms of offering convenience to a player wanting to make the jump to the NBA.

There is, however, a way to remedy the matter. It’s a dirty word no one likes to talk about when it comes to an institution and what they call home: relocation. And there’s a perfect place for the Maine Red Claws to call their new home, the city where the game of basketball was born: Springfield, MA.

Aside from being the birthplace of basketball, Springfield is also the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, located along the Connecticut River. Springfield has also hosted a G League team in the past, as the Detroit Pistons affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, called the city home as the Springfield Armor from 2009 to 2014 before relocating. While it only got to enjoy playoff basketball for one season, Springfield deserves another shot with a team whose home is only a short drive from that of its NBA affiliate.

Moreover, the Celtics’ G League team wouldn’t have much in the way of competition for entertainment dollars if it moved to Springfield. Other than the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League, which has had a team represent the city for all but seven years since 1926, the Red Claws would be the only professional sports team to call the city home. Considering the struggles that Springfield hockey teams have faced since the departure of the seven-time AHL Calder Cup champion Indians in 1994, a G League title could be all that it takes for Springfield to truly be a basketball town.

Lastly, though, a relocation away from Maine would make the team name, the Red Claws, obsolete. So, there are other names to consider: perhaps the Shamrox? It would make sense with the team’s connection to the Celtics, whose alternate logo uses a shamrock, and it also connects to a slang term for the sport’s ball: “The Rock.” Ultimately, the Springfield Celtics would not be the worst choice by any circumstance, and would stick to the trend of Boston’s top-flight professional teams attaching their nicknames to their minor league affiliates. The Boston Red Sox have the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Boston Bruins have the Providence Bruins. Plus, calling the Springfield club the “Baby Cs” has a nice ring to it, the way the Baby Bs have been for Bruins fans in Providence for the last 25 years.

With all due respect to Portland and the wonderful hospitality they’ve shown to the Red Claws—resulting in several memorable seasons—the Celtics have a golden opportunity to connect to basketball’s most underrated city in the world and with it, the fans in the most populated city in western Massachusetts. They stand to be the most popular, as well as one of the most successful teams in the G League, much as the Celtics have been in the NBA for the last 60 years. The Celtics, Boston, Springfield, the G League, the NBA, and the game of basketball will all stand to be winners with a team in the city where basketball was born.