The Boston Celtics Suffer a Devastating Loss With the Death of the ‘Ultimate Celtic’
More than 60 years after playing for the Boston Celtics, he was still a member of the team. Tommy Heinsohn was a basketball star in the 1950s as a member of the Celtics and he remained with the team as a television analyst through this past season. On Tuesday, the team confirmed Heinsohn died at the age of 86.
Tommy Heinsohn the player
Tommy Heinsohn played his college basketball at Holy Cross and was taken by the Boston Celtics as a “territorial” draft pick in 1956. In his first season in the NBA, Heinsohn was named Rookie of the Year after averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He also won his first of many NBA titles that season.
Heinsohn went on to play nine seasons in the NBA and won the NBA title in eight of those seasons. Between 1959 and 1965, the Boston Celtics were NBA champs with Heinsohn playing a major role with the team. Statistically, Heinsohn, had his best year during the 1961-62 season when he averaged a career-high 22.1 points and added 9.5 rebounds per game.
Heinsohn, a 6-foot-7 forward, was a six-time NBA All-Star, making it in his rookie year and then the final five seasons of his career. For his career, Heinsohn averaged 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. Heinsohn was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
Tommy Heinsohn the coach
During the 1969-70 NBA season, Tommy Heinsohn was named head coach of the Boston Celtics. During the 1972-73 season, he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Celtics to a 68-14 record. Although they didn’t win the NBA title that year, they won it the following year.
Heinsohn and the Celtics won another NBA title during the 1975-76 season when the team went 54-28. He finished with those two championships as coach, giving him 10 rings during his combined 20 seasons as player and coach. His final year of coaching was the 1977-78 season.
Heinsohn finished his coaching career with a 474-296 record, including the playoffs. In 2015, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. He is just one of four members to be inducted as both a player and a coach.
The Boston Celtics issue a statement on the passing of Tommy Heinsohn
Tommy Heinsohn’s death was announced Tuesday and the Boston Celtics were quick to issue a statement on the man who was a player, coach, and broadcaster for the team. “This is a devastating loss,” the team’s owners 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.
“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. And a boundless love for all things Boston Celtics, a passion which he shared with fans over 64 years.
“We take this time to celebrate his 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.”
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.