Tom Heinsohn, a former player, coach and broadcaster with the Boston Celtics, has died at 86, the team announced Tuesday.
With ties dating back the formation of Boston's basketball dynasty, Heinsohn was with the Celtics in some form for all 17 of their NBA championships
"This is a devastating loss," Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and the Boston Celtics ownership group said in a statement. "Tommy was the ultimate Celtic. For the past 18 years, our ownership group has relied hugely on Tommy’s advice and insights and have reveled in his hundreds of stories about Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, and how the Celtics became a dynasty. He will be remembered forever."
We take this time to celebrate Tommy Heinsohn’s life and legacy, and to share in the sorrow of his passing with his family, friends, and fans. As long as there are the Boston Celtics, Tommy’s spirit will remain alive.
Full Statement from the Celtics: https://t.co/T5tQbCpfs2pic.twitter.com/WCcRe3C7aU
Heinsohn, originally from Union City, New Jersey, played college basketball at Holy Cross before he was drafted by the Celtics in 1956. The 6-foot-7 power forward immediately made his presence felt and was a crucial piece on a team that featured future Hall of Fame players like Bill Russell and Bob Cousy.
Along with winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1957, Heinsohn helped deliver Boston's first NBA championship that year. In Game 7 against the St. Louis Hawks, he had 39 points and 23 rebounds.
Heinsohn's playing career (1956-65) included six All-Star selections and eight championship runs — four in which he was the leading scorer.
Tommy Heinsohn at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)
Heinsohn eventually transitioned to the sideline in 1969 and took over the reins as the Celtics' head coach. He retired in 1978 after winning championships in both 1974 and 1976. Heinsohn was also named NBA Coach of the Year in 1973.
The final stage of his career was in the broadcast booth as a play-by-play announcer for the Celtics, and he's just the fourth person to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.
“No living thing — horse, dog, or human — ever gave so much competitively as Tommy contributed to the Celtics,” Walter Brown, the original owner of the Boston Celtics, said in a Boston Globe article.
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