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Arnold 'Red' Auerbach passes away




| Oct. 28, 2006

The Boston Celtics regretfully announce the passing of President Arnold ‘Red’ Auerbach. Auerbach, 89 and who was born on September 20, 1917, passed away suddenly today in Washington, DC.

Red was responsible for 16 World Championships, was known as the greatest coach ever to have lived and the Celtics are dedicating this upcoming season in his honor.

Auerbach is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Auerbach Collins and Randy Auerbach; his granddaughter, Julie Auerbach Flieger and three great-grandchildren.

Red, who was Jewish, grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. He made Brooklyn all-second team in high school but wasn't heavily recruited to colleges. George Washington, however, did offer Red a scholarship that he accepted. He figured out that he wanted to be a teacher. A coach. And after graduating, he was able to do both. He coached the Washington Capitals for three years and then moved to Boston, where he got the Celtics coaching job and went on to make history.

On Wednesday, October 25, in his last public appearance, Auerbach proudly received the U.S. Navy’s Lone Sailor Award in front of family and friends at ceremonies in Washington, DC.

Bob Cousy on Red's passing: "I think Arnold was an absolute giant in the field. I have been around a lot of competitive people but his commitment to winning was absolute – nothing was more important. He was relentless and produced the greatest basketball dynasty so far that this country has ever seen and certainly that the NBA has ever seen. This is a personal loss for me, Arnold and I have been together since 1950. I was fortunate that I was able to attend a function with him Wednesday night when he was honored by the United States Naval Memorial Foundation in Washington, and I am so glad now that I took the time to be there and spend a few more moments with him."

Tom Heinsohn: "Nobody has had as much impact on a sport as Red Auerbach had on the game of basketball. He was a pioneer of the NBA. He left his philosophy of winning championships, playing hard and playing as a team with several generations of players. He was truly a great manager of people because he got people to commit to who they were as people and what their role was on the team. He was exceptional at listening and motivating people to put out their very best. In my playing days he once gave me a loaded cigar and six months later I gave him one – that was our relationship. We had a tremendous amount of fun and the game of basketball will never see anyone else like him."

Jerry West, Grizzlies President of Basketball Operations: “This certainly is not a happy day for basketball fans. Red (Aeurbach) was an enormous presence and his contributions to the game of basketball withstood the test of time. During my career, I had the misfortune of having to play against Red and his Celtics. He was an incredible coach who had a unique way of dealing with his players and getting them to play a simplistic, defensive game. His players rallied around him and respected him each and every night. This truly is a passing of a legendary person in the world of basketball... On a personal level, I enjoyed a tremendous relationship with him over the years. Red deserved every accolade he ever earned and he will be missed deeply.”

Pat Riley: “Today is a sad day for everybody that knew Red, that competed against him, that enjoyed watching him. He was one of the great, if not the greatest coach, in the history of all of basketball. His record speaks for itself. What he did for the Celtics in the time he was there, not only in winning Championships, but creating this incredible tradition that lives on today, will never be matched. We are going to miss him.”

Antoine Walker: “This is unfortunate. I knew him very well over the last seven to eight years that I was in Boston. The most amazing thing about him was that at his age, his knowledge of the game was still very good. He was always very aware of what was going on with the team, the organization and players around the league. I got to know his daughters, his doctors and I feel sad for them. This is a sad time for everyone who has been in Boston. He meant so much to the team and to the community. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to have a personal relationship with a guy of his stature... For Boston and the league, we lost an icon who loved the game of basketball, who gave it everything. He is going to be missed, especially in Boston. Every time he walked into the arena, he got a standing ovation.”

Don Nelson: "Obviously, this is difficult news for me to accept. Red was my mentor. He had a tremendous impact on me as a basketball player and coach and is responsible for any success that I've had in my career. Any conversation regarding the greatest coaches in NBA history should begin with Red Auerbach. He was pioneer, an innovator and, most notably, an incredible winner. His great accomplishments - such as eight consecutive NBA titles - are simply mind-boggling, hard to fathom and will never be duplicated. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the NBA community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family."

Kevin McHale: "Red was a man who was bigger than life. His impact on the game of basketball and the NBA is immeasurable. He was a huge part of my time in Boston, and for that I am forever grateful. Red will be missed by many, many people. The Celtics will never be quite the same without Red Auerbach."

David Stern: “Red Auerbach was known best for his extraordinary success as an NBA head coach, but his leadership and passion had a profound impact away from the court. Beyond his incomparable achievements, Red had come to be our basketball soul and our basketball conscience. The void left by his death will never be filled. The NBA family extends its sympathy to his daughters Nancy and Randy, and Red’s entire family.”

Donnie Walsh, Indiana Pacers: “As a franchise, we’re saddened by the passing of Arnold “Red” Auerbach. His contributions to the game speak for themselves in my opinion. He was at the top of the list as a coach and further at the top of the list as a president/general manager and will be for all-time. He set the tone for professional excellence.”

Fans on the message board are discussing Red's passing here.

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