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It's a sad day as basketball just lost it's greatest
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Posted by jaygross
Comments: 0

I will start by saying that I am a huge Celtics fan and I am completely biased, so please bear with me. But today is a tough day as Red Auerbach passed away at 89.

Bill Simmons said it pretty well:

As a GM, he helped the C's win 7 more. He traded for Russell, Parish, Archibald and Walton. Drafted Havlicek, McHale, Cowens, Maxwell, Sanders, Ainge, Heinsohn, White, Sharman, Lewis and the Jones boys. Drafted Bird in '79 with the sixth pick in the entire draft, even though Bird wasn't eligible to play for another season. Coached nine championship teams and built the foundations for seven others. You could argue, successfully, that Arnold "Red" Auerbach is the greatest winner in the history of sports.

Just go to the Fleet Center and look up at all the banners and retired numbers, more than any of team. That's an easy indicator of just how great he was. You could make a strong argument for the Yankees and Canadiens, but I'd say Red's run would beat them all - and he was single mastermind behind all of it (unlike those other teams).

As a coach, he won 9 titles in 10 seasons - only the great Bob Pettit catching fire and scoring 50 in Game 6 of the 1958 Finals stopped him from making the clean sweep. When he stepped down, Bill Russell took over as a player/coach won 2 more in 3 years with the team Red built.

As great as Phil Jackson is (also with 9 titles in many more years), he had GM's like Jerry Krause and Jerry West to build his teams. Free agency let Phil get players like Shaq and Dennis Rodman. Red not only coached the dynasty, but was the mastemind behind building it.

Trading two future HOFers for the rights to Russell was a gutsy move - that turned out to be as good as any trade in sports history (11 titles in the next 13 years). A close runner up must be the rights to #1 pick (Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll) for Robert Parish and the rights to Kevin McHale - which resulted in 3 more championships and 2 more HOF careers. A year later he steals Dennis Johnson from Phoenix for Rick Robey.

Even though I am too young to remember the 50's and 60's teams, I have Red to thank for my Celtics teams of the 80's. How has it been 20 years since the last title - wow does time fly. If only Len Bias hadn't OD'd, Bird and McHale wouldn't have fallen apart from playing so many minutes and we'd have won a few more.

Even though his health had been fading the past few years, Red was signing often for his fans c/o his Washington DC home. I was lucky to obtain his autograph in this time.

ESPN's Ken Shouler wrote a nice article this morning about Red's style and  impact.

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