Watching the Celtics win championships in the eighties never got old. The games themselves were great: Bird, McHale, Parrish, DJ, Ainge and a mix of supporting players always put on a show and came not only to play, but to win. But the biggest cheer from the draft-beer-and-buffalo-wing-filled crowd at the Ground Round, was when Red Auerbach lit a cigar. Because at that point, you knew – game over. It was the fat lady singing, the door being slammed and the lights being put out for the other team. Red passed away yesterday at the age of 89.
We don’t have enough space on this site to capture all of his accomplishments, but there are some that must be mentioned.
As a coach, Red guided his team to 9 NBA championships, including 8 in a row. It was an unprecedented feat in sports that will probably never be repeated.
After retiring and moving into the front office, Auerbach went on to architect seven more Celtic championships as the team’s general manager.
Auerbach was the first to select a black player in the NBA draft, the first to start 5 black players in a line-up, and the first to hire a black coach.
Auerbach never had a losing record in 16 years as the Celtics coach.
Auerbach was a tireless competitor as Kevin McHale once noted, “Red had an unbelievable passion for winning. Second place to him was like 28th place. It made no difference.”
As a negotiator, Red was unbeatable. Look up the stories behind the Bill Russell and Larry Bird deals, the cornerstones of two of Red’s dynasties, and you’ll understand.
Auerbach is gone but for followers of basketball, or any sport for that matter, he will not be forgotten.