This weekend, former Celtics guard Dennis Johnson will be inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame (posthumously; he died of a heart attack in February 2007) as part of the 2010 class, along with Dr. Jerry Buss, Cynthia Cooper, Bob Hurley Sr., Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Gus Johnson and Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira.
Additionally, the Hall will be opening its doors to both the 1960 and 1992 U.S. Men's Olympic teams (the latter you know better as the Dream Team). The idea of inducting whole teams that had an impact on the sport got SB Nation's Andrew Sharp speculating on 10 teams that should be included in Springfield, starting with the Celtics of the 1959-1966 era.
THEY WON EIGHT STRAIGHT TITLES. Aside from the winning, though, Red Auerbach went a long way toward promoting the complete integration of the sport on the biggest stage possible (didn't hurt that they won, too), and helped establish a benchmark for success that every franchise has aspired to ever since. (Note: these guys played thirty years before I was born, so you're not getting much more than that. But... THEY WON EIGHT STRAIGHT TITLES.)
And Sharp's right. The Celtics of that era were one of the most dominant teams in the history of the NBA, if not all of North American sports, winning 11 titles in 13 seasons, and they likely "helped popularize basketball and turn it into a global sport" just as much as any Olympic team getting honored this weekend. Much like the rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics in the 80s.
L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics, 1980-1988: A joint induction. They made the NBA what it is today, and they did it playing arguably the most memorable basketball in history. With great teams, we're talking about groups than pushed the individuals to another level. And in this case, both teams did it at the same time, and taught an entire generation that when it's played well, basketball is nothing less than the coolest game on the planet.