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Best of the 60's: Tommy couldn't handle coaching Russell

Posted by shawn cassidy on August 14, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Heinsohn on coaching

After winning yet another championship ring in 1965-66, Auerbach decided to retire. Auerbach wanted to concentrate on his duties as Boston's general manager, and he asked Heinsohn to take over as the Celtics' head coach. "And I said no," Heinsohn recalled, "because Russell was still playing and I knew I couldn't handle Russell. I knew nobody was going to handle Russell. So I said to Red, 'Why don't you make Russell the coach? He's got so much damn pride, he'll handle himself." Three years later, after Russell had retired, Auerbach offered the post to Heinsohn again.

This time Heinsohn said yes. He had a monumental job ahead of him. With no experience as a coach, Heinsohn was supposed to create a team that could carry on the winning ways Boston fans had grown to expect, without the services of the greatest defensive center the game had ever seen, and with one of the greatest coaches of all time scrutinizing his every move. "It was pure trauma," Heinsohn recalled.

Tommy made a great decision. It was nice seeing Russell as the first player coach, and it was even bigger seeing  Russ as the first African American coach in NBA history. Tommy did take over as head coach in 1970 after Russell retired as a player, and as the coach of the Celtics. Tommy went on to coach the Celtics to two NBA titles in 1974,and in 1976.


Categories: Celtics Best of the 60's

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Reply paul
8:11 AM on August 14, 2012 
Russell helped the Cs find Cowens, as I recall from reading. This is the way it's always been, Celtics veterans finding ways to keep Celtics Pride going.

Poor Heinie. He never could get away from those pride-filled centers...
Reply Franklin
11:01 AM on August 14, 2012 
Cool story, Russell's legend is always such an amazing story.