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Sign the Petition! Let's honor Tommy Heinsohn

 

No longtime Celtics fan can watch games this year without a somewhat heavy heart. For the last 50 plus years, we have been blessed as a franchise to have Tommy Heinsohn, Mr. Celtic himself, as a part of the organization. Whether it be as a player, coach, or commentator, Tommy has been an instrumental figure for the green, and his presence is missed on every broadcast. Nobody embodied what it meant to be a Celtic more than Tommy, and I know I miss his energy and ferocity every time Scal claims the refs "made the right call" against the Cs.


While Tommy obviously belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics, he is often overlooked in his place among the greats of NBA history. Looking back upon his life, one would be hard pressed to find someone with a bigger impact on NBA basketball than Mr. Celtic. For those who are unfamiliar, let's do a quick review.


Tommy is one of 2 people to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach (the other being the indomitable Lenny Wilkens). As a player, Heinsohn was a part of the Celtics Golden Age, winning 8 championships, a Rookie of the Year, 6 All-Star invites, 4 All-NBA honors, and a jersey retirement at the Garden. Because he played with such incredible talents like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, Tommy often gets overlooked as a player, but his contributions to those early teams were vital in their dominance.


As a coach, Tommy may have had an even greater influence. He won 2 championships, a Coach of the Year award, and posted a 0.619 winning percentage for his career. It can be argued that Tommy's run and gun style, where he used MVP Dave Cowens as a playmaker and jump shooter, was one of the earliest evolutions of modern "small ball",  during a time where giants ruled the league and the 3 point shot did not yet exist. Tommy's coaching career took place during the 1970s, which are often referred to as the Dark Ages of the NBA. Since that era is frequently glossed over, his contributions as a coach can be easily forgotten. But, I would argue that Coach Tommy had a massive impact on the evolution of the game (For what it's worth, noted small ball innovator Don Nelson played for Heinsohn in the 70s).


After his playing and coaching career, Tommy became the face of the Celtics broadcast. For multiple generations of fans, myself included, "Mike and Tommy" were the ONLY way to watch a Celtics game. The everlasting coolness of Gorman combined with the eternal green flame of Heinsohn was a symphony cherished by Celtics fans across the globe. In high school basketball gyms across New England, coaches give out "Tommy Points" to the kid with the most floor burns, an homage to the impact that Tommy had from the booth.


Despite the 10 championships and litany of other accomplishments, perhaps Heinsohn's greatest legacy is the NBA Players Association. Heinsohn was one of the original architects of the union, and served as its second president from 1958-1966. Heinsohn had a profound impact on player rights, from the installation of the pension plan to his fight for free agency, and he paved the way for the strong players union we see today. His most famous act as president came during the 1964 NBA All-Star game, where Heinsohn helped organize an impromptu strike before the game, forcing the owners to recognize the players' union.


Tommy Heinsohn has had a massive influence on the NBA. As a player, coach, broadcaster, and union official, Heinsohn's legacy can be felt in all aspects of the game. With his unfortunate passing this past year, we should look for ways to honor his legacy. With that in mind, I'm proposing that the NBA rename its Lifetime Achievement award to the "Tom Heinsohn Lifetime Achievement Award". The NBA says that the Lifetime Achievement Award is for players who exemplified great success both on and off the court. Tommy Heinsohn - from the court, to the coaches box, to the broadcasters booth, to the negotiation table - was a model of success. He certainly achieved plenty during his lifetime.


So, come on everybody, let's keep Tommy's legacy alive. Sign the petition here

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Comments

  1. Tommy Heinsohn was degraded as a player by Red Auerbach for the good of the team - criticized by the media as coach - and rightly labeled as a "Homer" by opponents when he broadcast games. It's time to give Heinsohn his own "Tommy Point". We hope you agree. Please help us by signing the petition.

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