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Happy Birthday Red


 

      Isn't it ironic that a guy nicknamed "Red" could be so color-blind when it came to choosing his players. He only saw talent and character. Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach should be referred to as one of the greatest coaches of all time! A man of morals who stuck up for his players when dealing with racial issues. A innovator as a coach who went on to win 9 titles as a coach and when he served as GM and President in the front office he was part of another 7 titles! 

      Before he was coach of the Boston Celtics he was coach of the Washington Capitols and Tri Cities Blackhawks how many of you knew that? When you hear the name Red Auerbach you think top coach in NBA history. He amassed 938 wins! He was coach of the year in 1965 and executive of the year in 1980. Think about this number of 16 titles in 29 years. 


     Red was the coach who put together the modern game with his coaching style. He redesigned basketball. He made sure his teams were dominated by team play and defense. He introduced the fast break to basketball and made sure he had the perfect players to execute it. 


     Red was vital in breaking down the color barrier in the NBA by drafting the first African American in Chuck Cooper in 1950. In 1964 he started the first all=five African American starting five in Bill Russell, Willie Naulls, Tom Sanders, Sam Jones and KC Jones. In 1966 he hired the first African American coach in Bill Russell! Reds signature move as coach was lighting his victory cigars during games when he knew the Celtics had the win in hand. The COY award was named the Red Auerbach award. In 1965 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1980 "Arnold" - as Bob Cousy called him - was named the greatest coach in history. He was honored by the Celtics retiring the number 2 in the Garden. 


     Red held the title as Celtics president from 1970 to 1997. He then spent 4 years as vice chairman. From 2001 to 2006 he served as President once more. Somehow Red always ended up getting his guy. Even though he drafted Chuck Cooper and passed up Bob Cousy he ended up with The Cooz anyway. In 51/52 he drafted Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsay, and Jim Loscutoff. What a haul! 


     In the 1956 draft he traded Ed Macaulay and Cliff Hagan to draft Bill Russell! In that same draft he picked Tommy Heinsohn and KC Jones! In 57 he drafted Sam Jones! Red also developed that 6th man role by using the great John Havlicek and Frank Ramsey in that spot. Talk about a shrewd, intelligent man. Red was a coach who always found a way to get fined for arguing with the refs, he also was ejected more than any other coach in history. He mentored Russell, Sharman, Heinsohn, and KC Jones to 7 titles. 


     Red coached so many players who are now members of the Basketball Hall of Fame as players or coaches! As a GM he drafted so many great players from Cowens, White, Westphal, Chaney and Silas in the 70s to Bird, McHale, Ainge, Maxwell and Parish in the 80s. He also had the savvy to trade for players like Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton. 


     Red seemed to always be ahead of the game, either as coach or executive, in how he would either draft or trade for such great players in the NBA. He had a way of just making his competition look inept. What's more remarkable about Red was the fact that, as great as he was in those roles, he saw no racial barriers - he saw no color - only talent and character. And we know how that turned out.

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