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Red Auerbach

Updated on October 2, 2014

Red Auerbach, NBA Coaching Legend

If I had to call one guy "Mr. Boston Celtic", it would not be Bill Russell or Larry Bird, my vote would be for Red Auerbach. As a coach, Red won 938 games (a record at his retirement) and nine NBA championships (surpassed only by Phil Jackson). 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 Red Auerbach one of the most successful team officials ever in the history of professional sports.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikipedia/Steve Lipofsky

Team President and General Manager Red Auerbach presenting Larry Bird with his #33 Celtics jersey before Bird's first game in 1979. Bird was the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft.

(A. P. file photo)

In 1980, Red Auerbach was named the greatest coach in the history of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America.

Coaching Career

Detailed Wikipedia bio

In 1941, Auerbach began coaching basketball at the St. Albans School and Roosevelt High School in Washington, DC. Two years later, he joined the US Navy for three years, coaching the Navy basketball team in Norfolk. There, he caught the eye of Washington millionaire Mike Uline, who hired him to coach the Washington Capitols in the newly-founded Basketball Association of America (BAA), a predecessor of the NBA.

In the 1946-47 BAA season, Auerbach led a fast break-oriented team built around early BAA star Bones McKinney and various ex-Navy players to a 49-11 win-loss record, including a standard-setting 17-game winning streak that stood as the single-season league record until 1969. In the playoffs, however, they were defeated by the Chicago Stags in six games.

The next year the Capitols went 28-20 but were eliminated from the playoffs in a one-game Western Division tie-breaker. In the 1948-49 BAA season, the Caps won their first 15 games (still a league-record start) and finished the season at 38-22. The team reached the BAA Finals, but were beaten by the Minneapolis Lakers, who were led by Hall-of-Fame center George Mikan. In the next season, the BAA and the rival league National Basketball League merged to become the NBA, and Auerbach felt he had to rebuild his squad. However, owner Uline declined his proposals, and Auerbach resigned.

Auerbach was then approached by Ben Kerner, owner of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. After getting a green light to rebuild the team from scratch, Auerbach traded more than two dozen players in just six weeks, and the revamped Blackhawks improved, but ended the 1949-50 NBA season with a losing record of 28-29. When Kerner traded Auerbach's favorite player John Mahnken, an angry Auerbach resigned again.

Prior to the 1950-51 NBA season, Auerbach was approached by Walter Brown, owner of the Boston Celtics. Brown was desperate to turn around his struggling and financially strapped franchise, which was reeling from a terrible 22-46 record. So, the still young but already seasoned Auerbach was made coach. In the 1950 NBA Draft, Auerbach made some notable moves. First, he famously snubbed Hall-of-Fame New England point guard Bob Cousy in the 1950 NBA Draft, infuriating the Boston crowd. He argued that the flashy Cousy was too air-headed to make his team, taunting him as a.....(read more)

Auerbach Tribute Clip

Lone Sailor Award

Auerbach speaking after being honored with the Lone Sailor Award on October 25, 2006. The Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective civilian careers while exemplifying the Navy core values of Honor. Sadly, Auerbach would pass away just three days later.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia

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Any "Red" Thoughts? - Feel free to comment here. Thanks for visiting!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I think everyone puts Red at the top of the Celtic dynasty.....but man Bird was an experience!

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      Thanks for such a great Red Auerbach story lens! SQuid Angel Blessed. Lens roll to my "Boston Celtics Over Miami 2011" Nice to meet another Celtics fan!!