Red Auerbach is considered one of the greatest basketball minds of all time. He showed that both as head coach and as general manager of the Boston Celtics, one of the most traditional franchises in the NBA.
Auerbach coached with the Celtics for 16 seasons and won nine championships. He ended his career on an unprecedented run, clinching titles in his last eight seasons. Auerbach ended his coaching career with a 938-479 record at three different teams.
He is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. After the end of his career, Auerbach explained the key to his coaching success.
Red Auerbach won eight straight championships with the Boston Celtics
Auerbach won 795 of his victories with the Celtics. For three years he coached the Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America, which preceded the NBA. After a season with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Auerbach resigned and eventually joined the Celtics, a struggling team that ended the previous year with 22 wins and had never won more than 25 games in its four years of existence.
In his freshman year with the Celtics, Auerbach led the team to a 39-30 record and a playoff berth. In his 16 years as a Celtics coach, he never had a losing season.
Auerbach won his first NBA title as a coach in the 1956-57 season, leading Tom Heinsohn and Bob Cousy. Heinsohn was named Rookie of the Year, while Cousy was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. The following season, Boston returned to the NBA Finals, falling to the St. Louis Hawks in six games.
Auerbach and the Celtics won the championships for the next eight seasons, with five-time MVP Bill Russell taking the lead on court. Before the 1965–66 season, Auerbach announced that the season would be his last as manager. He retired with his eighth consecutive title and ninth overall.
He served as the team’s president and GM until his death in 2006. During his tenure as front office manager, Auerbach won seven other championships.
Auerbach has revealed the secret of his coaching success
Yes, Auerbach had the talent on the court in Russell, Cousy, Heinsohn and more, but he turned the struggling franchise around before these guys got there. He helped popularize basketball in Boston, which was a hockey town.
During an undated interview posted by NBC Sports Boston, Auerbach was asked how hard it was getting interest in basketball in Boston back then.
“You could write 10 books about that,” said Auerbach. “You never saw a box notch in the newspaper. The guys who were covering didn’t know what it was about.”
Although Auerbach was lively and occasionally tangled with referees and opposing players, he was easy. He said that the secret of his success is not overthinking the game.
“I didn’t overtrain,” he said. “Today’s coaches have TVs, they have lectures and they have meetings. What is all this for? Take a ball and put it in a hole? You don’t need all that.”
Cousy had a different theory as to why the Celtics were so successful under Auerbach.
“Most of us came from the same ghettos that[Auerbach]came from in Brooklyn,” Cousy said in the video. “We were all hungry the same way. The combination of hunger and talent with all those God-given skills and the fact that (Auerbach) beat us produced 11 championships in 13 years.”
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