The Boston Celtics are mourning the loss of a legendary figure. Tommy Heinsohn, former Celtics player and coach, passed away at the age of 86. Heinsohn was a revered Celtics figure, both as a player and a coach.
Heinsohn debuted in the NBA in 1956. He was picked by his hometown team, the Boston Celtics. During his time as a Celtic, he won eight NBA championship, as part of the iconic Bill Russell Celtics. He even won NBA Rookie of the Year over Bill Russell. Tommy only played in the NBA for nine years before retiring as a player. In that time, he was a six-time NBA All-Star and had his #15 jersey retired by the Celtics.
Heinsohn returned to the Celtics almost four years after his retirement in 1965. He became the Head Coach of the Boston Celtics. Heinsohn replicated his success as a player during his coaching tenure, winning two NBA Championships in 1974 and 1976. He was even named NBA Coach of the Year in 1973 and was an NBA All-Star coach four times.
Heinsohn’s coaching career ended in 1978, but he continued to be a part of the Celtics franchise. He parlayed his resume into a broadcasting career, becoming a play-by-play commentator for the Boston Celtics’ games.
Heinsohn was known for his charisma and humor as a commentator. He would award Celtics players that impressed him with ‘Tommy Points’. One of the traits Heinsohn was known for was getting angry when plays were called against his Celtics by the referees.
Tommy Heinsohn – Boston Celtics SuperFan
Doc Rivers says refs used to ask him if he could tell Tommy to “lighten up.”
Doc, obviously, said no way. pic.twitter.com/QNVMWoDYeF
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 11, 2020
Heinsohn in his later years would be present at Celtics games as a passionate fan. He would often be seen shouting and cheering his players on. But he was also well known for being hard on officials who called fouls and plays against the Celtics.
Former Celtics and current Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers spoke to NBC Sports about Tom Heinsohn’s passing, and how he would remember him. When asked about Tommy’s aggressive demeanor towards officials, Rivers revealed how much he enjoyed it and said, “I loved it. It’s funny, before I took the Celtics job, I used to watch Celtics games because Tommy, for me, was so entertaining. Because he didn’t care what the play was, it should’ve gone toward the Celtics.”
Rivers also shared a humorous anecdote about Tommy and the NBA referees asking for a respite and said, “Once I took the job, we would do that pre-season thing where you met all the coaches and the referees came together. Every single time, I would have at least one official come to me and say – ‘Doc can you just talk to Tommy? And tell him to please just lighten up a little bit?’ And I would always look the refs in their eyes and tell them ‘absolutely not’. Tommy is Tommy and we love him for that.”
Rivers was the coach of the Celtics from 2007 to 2011. In 2008, he won the franchise their first NBA Championship in 22 years. Heinsohn could be seen at the championship parade, having a great time.
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