Tommy Heinsohn the Boston Celtics Legend has Died, Tuesday 10th November 2020, aged 86.
His cause of death is as yet unknown, but Heinsohn will depart as a true legend of the sport of basketball, having been a player, coach, and then match commentator, playing a part in all 17 of the Celtics’ championship wins.
Drafted by Boston Celtics in 1956, Tommy Heinsohn won the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1956/1957 season, and in a memorable Game 7, the series decider, he scored 37 points and took 23 rebounds, helping the Celtics to their first-ever title.
Tommy won 8 championship titles as a Celtics player and was the team’s highest score in 4 of those, whilst also being selected for 6 All-Star teams along the way.
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in 1965 Heihsohn retired from playing, and his No15 shirt was forever removed from use by the Celtics owners, as a mark of respect for his service to the team. His career stats were 12,194 points scored, and 5,749 rebounds, which is a remarkable tally for one individual player.
The Celtics’ owners, in a statement on Tuesday 10th November said, “This is a devastating loss, Tommy was the ultimate Celtic. For the past 18 years, our ownership group has relied hugely on Tommy’s advice and insights and have revelled in his hundreds of stories about Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, and how the Celtics became a dynasty. He will be remembered forever.”
His good friend Bill Russell tweeted, “We were rookies together and friends for life. In life there are a limited number of true friends, today I lost one. RIP Heiny”.
Heinsohn was named head coach of the Celtics in 1969, and he held that position until 1979, winning 2 more championships in 1974 and 1976. In 1973 Tommy won coach of the year, finishing his coaching career with a record of 427-263, a feat that is only second ever to Red Auerbach, for most wins in the history of the baseball franchise.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is quoted saying, “Celtics games will not be the same without Tommy, and he will be dearly missed by those who share his fervour for basketball, and we extend our deepest sympathies to Tommy’s family, his friends and the Celtics organization.”
In 1981, Heinsohn partnered with Mike Gorman to become the color commentator for Celtics television broadcasts, forming a partnership that would last several decades.
Gorman wrote on Twitter, “Roughly 2800 times I sat down with Tommy to broadcast a game, and every time it was special. HOF player…HOF coach…HOF partner. Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice. Rest In Peace, my friend. It has been the privilege of my professional life to be Mike in Mike & Tommy.”
Tommy Heinsohn was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and as a coach in 2015, is one of only four people to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, joining Bill Sharman, John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens on that list.
A Celtics team statement read, “For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy’s rich personality that defined the man, a loving father, grandfather, and husband. A talented painter and a lively golf partner.
Unofficial mentor to decades of Celtics coaches and players. A frequent constructive critic of referees. Originator of the most “Celtic stat” of them all, The Tommy Point, with a boundless love for all things Boston Celtics, a passion which he shared with fans over 64 years.”