The Official Boston Celtics Thread
|10-30-2006, 11:38 AM||#21|
The Real Deal in So Many Ways
By Michael Wilbon
Monday, October 30, 2006; Page E08
In 1956, the Boston Celtics traded Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks for the rights to the No. 2 pick in the college draft, where they selected a kid who had led his team to 55 straight victories and two NCAA championships, who averaged 28 points and 29 rebounds his senior year, a kid who turned out to be Bill Russell.
In 1978, while Larry Bird was a junior at Indiana State, the Celtics drafted him even though he was returning to school for his senior season.
Bill Russell, left, and Red Auerbach celebrated Russell's 10,000th career point in a game against the Bullets, Dec. 12, 1964.
Bill Russell, left, and Red Auerbach celebrated Russell's 10,000th career point in a game against the Bullets, Dec. 12, 1964. (Associated Press Photo)
Red Auerbach: 1917-2006
Michael Wilbon: There will never again be a dynasty-builder the likes of Red Auerbach.
Architect of one of sports great dynasties, Red Auerbach's greatest a.ssets may have been his heart.
Red Auerbach turned the Boston Celtics into a dynasty while ushering basketball into the modern era.
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In 1980, the Celtics traded the No. 1 pick in the draft to the Golden State Warriors for a package that would turn out to be Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, who would join Bird to form probably the greatest front line in NBA history.
Completing any one of those deals puts you at the top of your sport.
Making all three of those deals, as Red Auerbach did as boss of the Celtics, makes you a legend, someone to be loved, hated, envied, studied and ultimately treasured. There will never, ever be anyone like Auerbach again.
Never again will a man coach and build 16 championships in a major sport in one lifetime. No one man will impact the game of basketball, on the court, the way Auerbach did as coach and boss of the Celtics.
He was John Wooden and Branch Rickey, with a touch of Vince Lombardi for good measure.
If all Auerbach had done was make the aforementioned deals and win those nine championships as head coach, it would have been enough to make him the greatest coach in the history of professional basketball. His teams won those nine championships without a league scoring champ, with players such as K.C. Jones and Satch Sanders who were paid primarily to play defense, with great players such as John Havlicek coming off the bench. That's enough of a contribution right there, actually more than should be expected of any one coach.
But Auerbach had to go and have a spine, too. He drafted the first African American player (Chuck Cooper). Auerbach was the first to start five black players. Auerbach, when he retired, essentially picked Russell to coach the Celtics, making him the first black head coach in modern American professional sports. Auerbach was doing this, mind you, in a city very often openly hostile to blacks, a city heading into racial upheaval. "Red, to me, was colorblind," former Celtic Kermit Washington said last night in a telephone conversation. "He just didn't care. If you were purple and from Mars and gave an effort, Red was fine. There were a lot of things going on in Boston then. But Red was such a strong personality. He didn't answer to anybody. I think he always knew that if he won, he wouldn't have to answer to anybody. He was a tough, tough man."
Washington, like Auerbach, was a Washingtonian. "I went to American University with his daughter Randy," Washington said. "He was always so kind to me. Some other guys I grew up with in D.C., Adrian Dantley and James Brown, we'd go up and work as camp counselors for Red [in suburban Boston]."
Everybody who hung around basketball circles, particularly in Washington and Boston, has an Auerbach story. The man lived 89 years. You could find him pretty easily, perhaps at a George Washington game at Smith Center, maybe having lunch in Chinatown on Tuesdays. Washington's story is fascinating because he was at the center of the most unfortunate incident in NBA history, the punch that shattered Rudy Tomjanovich's face.
"When they were going to throw me out of the league," Washington said, "Red really stuck up for me. I was really, really ostracized. And Red told Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe that people should give me a chance, that he'd known me since I was a teenager and that he knew me to be a good kid. Red's word was gospel in Boston, and that story was in the Globe. People gave me a chance in Boston, and it was because of Red. You give him an effort and he loved you. He didn't care about points. He didn't care about the exact number of rebounds. He cared about effort. And he didn't want false effort. He hated that . . . diving on a ball out of bounds you had no chance to save. Red and Pete Newell really stood up for me at a difficult time.
"I'd go by and see him. He had an office right near AU. I hadn't talked to him in a couple of months, but we all knew he wasn't very well. He was good to all of us, all the kids in D.C. You know, Red would sound surly, but there were so many acts of kindness."
It was sometime in the early 1980s when my boss, George Solomon, who was then the sports editor of The Post, told me to call Red Auerbach about some issue or another. And he might as well have ordered me to call God. Red's number was listed in the phone book in those days, and while it took me half a week, I ultimately called and asked whatever questions I needed to have answered. I apologized for interrupting his evening at home and I'll never forget him saying, "Kid, if it's a choice between interrupting me or writing something stupid, call."
So, I did, often enough to learn stuff over the years but never so much he'd consider me a nuisance. Sometimes, you could ask one question and if it was the right one, maybe about Bird or Jordan or Barkley or Stockton, Red might talk for six minutes. Recently, the name Phil Jackson might elicit an answer twice that long, some of it funny and much of it less than flattering. If you wanted niceties, Red was the wrong guy to call. And for those of us who love basketball, it was as if we were talking to Moses. My friend Sam Smith, in Sunday's Chicago Tribune, called Auerbach, "the greatest non-playing figure in professional basketball history."
The stories coming out of Los Angeles and Philly and all the cities where the Celtics were despised cannot be written without mentioning that Auerbach 's cigar smoke could be very annoying, that he did devious things like cut off the hot water to the visiting locker room in Boston Garden, or remove some of the light bulbs or turn up the heat to the point of unbearable. The very mention of Len Bias's name turned his voice into a whisper. It was one of the very, very few moves that didn't turn out the way Auerbach thought it would.
Even so, it is impossible to imagine the NBA without Red Auerbach, the man who built the NBA's greatest dynasty, who on the Mount Rushmore of Coaches sits right there beside Wooden and Lombardi. Fortunately, the greatest contributor in the history of professional basketball has left his signature in enough places that it's not possible he'll ever be forgotten.
|10-30-2006, 11:39 AM||#22|
Auerbach forever linked to Philly
By PHIL JASNER
ARNOLD "RED'' AUERBACH was the keeper of the rings. And the cigars. Harvey Pollack remains the keeper of the statistics. Pollack believes that he and Auerbach were the last two people who had been continually employed by the NBA since its inception in 1946.
Auerbach, 89, was still the president of the Boston Celtics when he died of what was reported as a heart attack Saturday in the Washington area. Pollack, 84, served as a publicist for the Philadelphia Warriors and the 76ers and is currently the Sixers' director of statistical information and a league historian.
The lives and careers of Auerbach and Pollack - sometimes at odds, sometimes in fellowship - seemingly crossed paths endlessly through the birth and existence of the league.
"I like to say I'm the last of the Mohicans,'' said Pollack, who still directs the scorer's table crew in the Wachovia Center. "For all those years, he was the coach of the enemy, our archrival.''
For Auerbach, that status encompassed a Philadelphia era that has included, among others, Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Moses Malone Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson. In Boston, it began with Bill Russell and led to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Paul Pierce.
Auerbach won 938 games in 20 seasons in the league (16 with the Celtics), a record when he retired; with the Celtics, he won nine championships, a total since matched by current Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 1969, and was inducted again as a contributor to the sport in 1980. The league's Coach of the Year award is named in his honor.
"Wilt's second year with the Sixers [in 1965-66], Red and Bill Russell started the rivalry with the Celtics,'' Pollack said. "They lit the fuse.''
That memory led Pollack to one of his favorite stories involving Auerbach, who was born Sept. 20, 1917, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"Wilt complained that he wasn't getting the proper number of rebounds in other cities, but essentially in Boston,'' Pollack said. "I went to Boston for a game, sat upstairs in the radio booth and [charted] rebounds for Wilt and Russell. I wrote down the time of each one, and whether it was offensive or defensive.
"When it was over, I went to the official scorer and asked what totals he had. He said Russell had 30-some - I don't remember the exact number - and Wilt had 22. I said that was strange, because I had Wilt for 33, Russell for 20. I was told I didn't know how to keep rebounds.
"A guy from Sports Illustrated was there, and asked what was going on. The next week, the magazine had a story [mentioning the situation]. Red didn't talk to me for about 5 years.''
But that wasn't the end of the story.
In 1974-75, Washington's Wes Unseld and Boston's Dave Cowens went down to the final day of the season in a battle for the rebounding title. Pollack recalls that the Celtics played their final game at 1 p.m., the Bullets played at 4. That meant the Bullets knew exactly how many rebounds Unseld needed to win.
"Auerbach raised hell,'' Pollack said. "The papers called me and I said it sounded strange to me. Red said even someone as highly thought of as me thought there were some shenanigans going on. The next time I saw him, he shook my hand and handed me a cigar.''
The cigar was Auerbach's victory salute. He lit up as soon as victory was a.ssured, sometimes even on the bench. He retired as a coach after 1965-66, then served as president and general manager for 14 seasons. He was the president from 1984 to '97, until Rick Pitino a.ssumed the title; he resumed his presidency in 2001. Even when he had no official duties, he was a revered adviser.
He didn't miss much.
"Wilt used to work as a bellhop at Kutsher's in the Catskills [in New York],'' Pollack said. "Red tried to get him to go to Harvard so the Celtics could claim him as a territorial draft choice. At the same time, [Warriors owner] Eddie Gottlieb was trying to get him to go to Penn.''
Chamberlain, Philadelphia born and bred and a star at Overbrook High, chose Kansas. The territorial rule was somehow adjusted, and he became the Warriors' choice in 1959 after a season with the Harlem Globetrotters.
In 1978, Auerbach was at it again. He made Indiana State's Larry Bird the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, even though Bird had a year of eligibility remaining.
"I saw Red during the exhibition season and said, 'Red, you won  games, why draft this kid for a year from now when you need help now?' '' said Billy Cunningham, then the coach of the Sixers. "He said, 'Billy, it's only a year.' ''
Bird led the Celtics to three championships and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
When a 1983 preseason game between the Sixers and the Celtics in the Boston Garden deteriorated into a brawl, Auerbach rushed onto the floor from his seat in the stands.
"I called him the next day,'' Cunningham, who was the Sixers' coach at the time, said laughing. "I told him we could do a great Lite Beer commercial. I said, 'You could come rushing onto the court yelling, 'Tastes great,' and I could be out there saying, 'Less filling.' We laughed about it. He was always looking for an edge. In most cases, he got it.''
Chris Ford, now a personnel specialist with the Sixers, won a championship in 1981 as a player with the Celtics and two more as an a.ssistant coach. He later spent five seasons as the head coach.
"It's a sad day,'' said Ford, a native of Atlantic City who starred at Villanova. "But then you think about all the great things he did, and that he lived life to the fullest, that he did everything his way. He brought me into the Celtics family in 1978 [via a trade with Detroit], brought me into coaching, brought me into the Celtics' fraternity.''
One more anecdote.
"One year, as the head coach I wanted to hire [former Temple coach] Don Casey as my a.ssistant,'' Ford said. "The rules were, whoever was to be hired, Red had to meet him first. We arranged for Red to have lunch with Casey and me the first day of rookie camp at Babson College.
"Red didn't show up, so we went to practice. Just as I was about to blow the whistle to get started, Red came in. He took Casey into a broom closet - one hanging light bulb, a real broom closet. He said, 'Well, you're already dressed; you might as well stay. Just be loyal to Chris.' ''
Auerbach drafted the NBA's first African-American player, Chuck Cooper, in 1950, made Russell the first African-American coach in 1966 and made history by starting five African-American players in 1964. Fourteen of his players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In one final public appearance last Wednesday, Auerbach received the U.S. Navy's Lone Sailor Award in Washington.
"He's right at the top,'' Cunningham said. "Not just as a coach, but as a personality. He'd sit there with his cigar, and it would be seen as arrogance, blowing smoke in the other team's face. But he was a caring man.''
Friends and fans may pay their respects tonight, 7 to 9 o'clock, at Joseph Gawler Funeral Home, 5130 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington. A grave-site funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow, at King David Memorial Gardens, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, Va.
|10 years ago||'05 #25|
$51,069 | 3046
R.I.P. TO THE GREATEST!!!!!!!!
Celtics to wear black clover leaf in honor of Auerbach
ESPN.com news services
The Boston Celtics will wear a black clover leaf on their uniforms for the upcoming season as a tribute to former coach and general manager Red Auerbach, who died Saturday of a heart attack at age 89.
The clover will appear on the right side of the jersey and will be inscribed with the word "Red" in green lettering.
The Celtics begin the season at home Wednesday against the New Orleans Hornets and are still formulating plans to honor Auerbach at the opener.
Auerbach's family announced Monday that his funeral will be Tuesday in Falls Church, Va.
Auerbach's 938 victories made him the winningest coach in NBA history until Lenny Wilkens overtook him during the 1994-95 season.
Auerbach's nine titles as a coach came in the 1950s and 1960s -- including eight straight from 1959 through 1966 -- and then through shrewd deals and foresight he became the architect of Celtics teams that won seven more championships in the 1970s and 1980s.
Auerbach was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. The jersey No. 2 was retired by the Celtics in his honor during the 1984-85 season.
The a.ssociated Press contributed to this report.
|11-01-2006, 03:39 PM||#31|
The Boston Globe
City honors Auerbach today
November 1, 2006
The City of Boston will pay tribute to late Celtics legend Red Auerbach today in a ceremony at City Hall Plaza.
The event, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public, will be attended by local dignitaries as well as Celtics greats such as Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Jo Jo White, and Robert Parish.
For those attending tonight’s season-opening game at the TD Banknorth Garden, there will be pregame ceremonies honoring Auerbach beginning at 7. There also will be tributes, including a moment of silence, before all games at NBA venues tonight.
Fans can sign remembrance books both at the City Hall ceremony and the Garden.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
|10 years ago||'04 #32|
$7,502 | 2
Fans pay tribute to late Red Auerbach
By JAY LINDSAY, a.ssociated Press Writer
BOSTON - Spider Edwards stood among the Celtics fans crowding City Hall Plaza to pay tribute Wednesday to Arnold "Red" Auerbach for his achievements on the basketball court, and all Edwards could think of was what his friend was like off it.
Edwards worked the Boston Garden floor crew for 33 years, and a day didn't go by when Auerbach wouldn't stop to talk. "Red was always a person that looked out for the little fellow. He never made the little fellow feel small," said Edwards, 76.
Edwards joined thousands of fans, former players and local politicians honoring Auerbach. Some held "Thanks Red" signs. Other signed guest books with remembrances. Many in the crowd laughed and cheered during a video tribute, which included interviews in which Auerbach recalled tweaking his opponents with obvious glee.
Auerbach died after a heart attack near his Washington home Saturday at age 89. He was buried Tuesday in Falls Church, Va.
Former players, including Robert Parish and M.L. Carr, sat under a giant banner showing a silhouette of Auerbach holding a cigar, and the speakers made it clear they revered him for more than just winning. Celtics great Bob Cousy choked up as he remembered a final conversation with "my old coach and friend."
"He was indefatigable. He was totally committed. He was relentless in the pursuit of his goals," Cousy said.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) hailed Auerbach for breaking racial barriers — drafting the first black player, Chuck Cooper; hiring the first black head coach, Bill Russell; and fielding the first all-black starting five.
"He'll never be forgotten, and there will never be another like him," he said. "The teams he led with the legendary Bob Cousy and the incomparable Bill Russell set the gold standard for professionalism and transformed his sport and this city."
Gov. Mitt Romney spoke of the "Celtics spirit" that Auerbach defined, which he said was about qualities that aren't as easy to measure, such as determination.
"He saw the heart of the Celtics," he said.
Auerbach's mystique was evident around the club even in recent years, which haven't been successful, said fan Joe Pizzano, 40, of East Boston.
"You always had a feeling something good was going to happen," he said. "With him not around, you just don't think of it as the Celtics anymore. Now it's just a basketball team. He was the Celtics."
Jamie Clark, 27, of Boston, said Auerbach's contributions to the Celtics are too significant to disappear with his death.
"I see him, and this is going to sound corny, as the type of guy who will live on," he said. "His mystique and legend will always be part of the Celtics."
Another tribute to Auerbach is planned Wednesday night, before the Celtics regular-season opener at the TD Banknorth Garden.
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