From the basketball stars to the championship trophies, see highlights from the life of the legendary Celtics coach.
When Rick Pitino took the president’s title when he became coach in 1997, Auerbach became vice chairman of the board. After Pitino resigned in 2001, Auerbach regained the title of president and remained vice chairman. When the team was sold in 2002 to a group headed by Wyc Grousbeck, Auerbach stayed on as president.
Through all those changes and titles, Auerbach didn’t lose his direct manner of speaking, such as when he discussed the parquet floor of the Boston Garden shortly before the Celtics’ longtime home closed in September 1995.
“The whole thing was a myth,” Auerbach said. “People thought not only that there were dead spots, but that we knew where every one was and we could play accordingly.
“Now, did you ever watch a ballplayer go up and down the court at that speed and pick out a dead spot?” he asked. “If our players worried about that, thinking that’s going to help them win, they’re out of their cotton-picking mind. But if the other team thought that: Hey, good for us.”
As Celtics president, Auerbach shuttled between Boston and his home in the nation’s capital, where he led an active lifestyle that included playing racquetball and tennis into his mid-70s.
Auerbach underwent two procedures in May 1993 to clear blocked arteries. He had been bothered by chest discomfort at various times beginning in 1986.
Auerbach was also hospitalized a year ago, but he was soon active again and attended the Celtics’ home opener. Asked that night what his thoughts were, he replied in his usual blunt manner: “What goes through your mind is, ’When the hell are we going to win another one? I mean, it’s as simple as that.”
In his 16 seasons as the Celtics’ coach, Auerbach berated referees and paced the sideline with a rolled-up program in his clenched fist. The cigar came out when he was sure of another Celtic triumph.
He had a 938-479 regular-season coaching record and a 99-69 playoff mark.
Auerbach had a reputation as a keen judge of talent, seemingly always getting the best of trades with fellow coaches and general managers.
In 1956, he traded Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to St. Louis for the Hawks’ first-round pick and ended up with Russell — probably the greatest defensive center of all time and the heart of 11 championship teams.
In 1978, he drafted Bird in the first round even though he would have to wait a year before Bird could become a professional.
Before the 1980 draft, the Celtics traded the No. 1 overall selection to Golden State for Parish and the No. 3 pick. The Warriors took Joe Barry Carroll. The Celtics chose McHale.
In 1981, Boston chose Brigham Young guard Danny Ainge in the second round. Ainge was playing baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays organization at the time, but was freed after a court battle to play for the Celtics.
In June 1983, another one-sided deal brought guard Dennis Johnson from Phoenix for seldom-used backup center Rick Robey.
PBT: After it looked like Paul George's heroics would sink the Heat in Game 1, LeBron James stunned Indiana with a layup as time expired to lift Miami in OT.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Kerr: LeBron vs. Jordan comes down to rings
DPS: Steve Kerr joins Dan Patrick to discuss the Eastern Conference finals and the recent comparison between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Chris Andersen complements Heat’s Big Three so well6 hr 57 min ago
Paul George introduces himself too much of America with a breakout game… that got overshadowed7 hr 28 min ago
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.