1917-2006 Celtics lose legend
By Joseph White
By Joseph White
His genius was building a basketball dynasty in Boston, his gift was straight talk, his signature was the pungent cigar he lit up and savored after every victory.
Red Auerbach, the Hall of Famer who guided the Celtics to 16 championships — first as a coach and later as general manager — died yesterday. He was 89.
Auerbach died of a heart attack near his home in Washington, according to an NBA official. His death was announced by the Celtics, who still employed him as team president. Next season will be dedicated to him, they said.
"Red Auerbach was the consummate teacher, leader, and a true pioneer of the sport of basketball," commissioner David Stern said on NBA.com. "The NBA wouldn't be what it is today without him."
Auerbach's 938 victories made him the winningest coach in NBA history until Lenny Wilkens overtook him during the 1994-95 season. His 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.
Auerbach was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969.
"He was a unique personality, a combination of toughness and great, great caring about people," said author John Feinstein, who last year collaborated on a book with Auerbach on the coach's reflections of seven decades in basketball. "He cared about people much more than it showed in his public face, and that's why people cared about him."
Auerbach is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Auerbach Collins and Randy Auerbach; his granddaughter, Julie Auerbach Flieger, and three great-grandchildren.