As a coach, he won 938 games (a record at his retirement) and nine National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in ten years (a number surpassed only by Phil Jackson, who won 11 in twenty years). As general manager and team president of the Celtics, he won an additional seven NBA titles, for a grand total of 16 in a span of 29 years, making him one of the most successful team officials in the history of North American professional sports.
The cigar …the genius of the of coach, all he did was win …and win and win and ugh! win again and the Boston Celtics ruled basketball. If you were any other fan you were sick of it . When the Celtics did lose which was rare it was a cause for celebration. But make no mistake, the Celtics were as good as they were because of Red Auerbach. He knew how to coach and knew talent when he saw it.
Auerbach is remembered as a pioneer of modern basketball, redefining basketball as a game dominated by team play and defense and for introducing the fast break as a potent offensive weapon.He groomed many players who went on to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Additionally, Auerbach was vital in breaking down color barriers in the NBA. He made history by drafting the first African-American NBA player, Chuck Cooper in 1950, and introduced the first African-American starting five in 1964] Famous for his polarizing nature, he was well known for smoking a cigar when he thought a victory was assured, a habit that became, for many, “the ultimate symbol of victory” during his Boston tenure.
In 1979, Boston’s fortunes changed when Auerbach set his eyes on talented college player Larry Bird. Despite knowing that Bird had a year of college eligibility remaining, he drafted Bird in the 1978 NBA Draft and waited for a year until the future Hall-of-Fame forward Bird arrived, finally setting aside his team salary rules when it became clear that his choices were paying Bird a record-setting rookie salary or watch him simply re-enter the 1980 draft. Bird then became the highest-paid Celtic as a rookie, with a $650,000-per year deal. Auerbach immediately sensed that the brilliant, hardworking Bird would be the cornerstone of a new Celtics generation.In 1980, Auerbach achieved another great coup, which was dubbed “The Steal of The Century”. He convinced the Golden State Warriors to trade him a #3 overall pick and future Hall-of-Fame center Robert Parish in exchange for two picks in the 1980 NBA Draft: #1 overall Joe Barry Carroll, who went on to have an unremarkable career, and the #13 pick Rickey Brown. With the #3 pick, Auerbach selected the player he most wanted in the draft, Kevin McHale, who would also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The frontcourt of Parish-McHale-Bird became one of the greatest front lines in NBA history. Auerbach hired head coach Bill Fitch who led the revamped Celtics to the 1981 title.In 1983, Auerbach named former Celtics player K.C. Jones coach of the Celtics. Starting in 1984, Jones coached the Celtics to four straight appearances in the NBA Finals, winning championships in 1984 and 1986.In an interview, Auerbach confessed that he lost interest in big-time managing in the early 1990s, preferring to stay in the background and concentrating on his pastimes, racquetball and his beloved cigar-smoking. He would, however, stay on with the Celtics as president until 1997, as vice chairman until 2001, and then became president again, a position he held until his death in 2006.
In Auerbach’s honor, the Celtics have retired a number-2 jersey with the name “AUERBACH,” memorializing his role as the second most important Celtic ever, behind founder Walter Brown, in whose honor the number-1 “BROWN” jersey is retired.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights …The Legendary coach and executive of the Boston Celtics …Red Auerbach.
|Career highlights and awards|
|As head coach: