The Celtics were formed in 1946 as a team in the Basketball Association of America, and became part of the National Basketball Association after the merger of the BAA and the National Basketball League to form the NBA in the fall of 1949. The Celtics had struggled during their early years, but the hiring of Coach Red Auerbach would change their fortunes. One of the first major players to join the Celtics was Bob Cousy, whom Auerbach initially refused to draft. Cousy eventually became the property of the Chicago Stags. When that franchise went bankrupt, Cousy was acquired by the Celtics in a dispersal draft. He would become a huge part of the Celtics' success and eventually became good friends with his new coach. Under Auerbach the Celtics improved dramatically, becoming a consistent threat to win in the NBA's Eastern Division in each of his first six seasons, although they fell short each time.