I consider myself one of the luckiest sports fan’s around today. I grew up in the second generation of Celtic Greatness. The 1980’s, I got to watch the 1st generation of the “big three” Bird, McHale and Parish. The new big three is just as exciting as the old guard. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen are the real deal and they brought us another banner to decorate the new building on Causeway Street.
It’s been a long time since Boston Basketball fans have had something this great to celebrate. Shortly after the 86 team won it all, the C’s endured a string of death and heartbreak including:
The death of Leonard Kevin Bias (November 18, 1963 – June 19, 1986) was an American college basketball player who suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia that resulted from a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours after being selected by the Boston Celtics, a pick originally to have gone to the Seattle Supersonics, in the 1986 NBA Draft. Bias was the second player selected in the draft, after Brad Daugherty of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The death of Reggie Lewis also continued a streak of terrible events for the Boston Celtics, that began with the death of Len Bias after the 1986 NBA Draft. However, the curse has seemed to be broken as the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. This is the first title for the Celtics since 1986 and is a complete turnaround from the tragic events and disappointing seasons that struck the Celtics franchise in the late 80’s and 90’s.
The death of one of the greatest coaches / GM’s of all time Red Auerbach.
On October 28, 2006, Auerbach died of a heart attack. NBA commissioner David Stern said “the void caused by his death will never be filled” and ex-players Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek and Larry Bird as well as contemporaries like Jerry West, Pat Riley and Wayne Embry universally hailed Auerbach as one of the greatest personalities in NBA history. Auerbach was survived by his two daughters, Nancy and Randy. Auerbach was buried in Falls Church, Virginia at the King David Memorial Gardens / National Memorial Park on October 31, 2006.
During the 2006-07 NBA season, Auerbach appeared posthumously in a series of NBA commercials where he breaks down formations like “3 on 2 situations” and “rebounding,” and as a testament to his importance in the Boston sports world, the Boston Red Sox honored Auerbach at their April 20th, 2007 game against the New York Yankees by wearing green uniforms and by hanging replicated Celtics championship banners on the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park. Boston won 7-6.
Prior to Boston’s season opener against the Wizards, his signature was officially placed on the parquet floor near center court, thereby naming the court as “Red Auerbach Parquet Floor.” The ceremony was attended by his daughter Randy and some of the Celtics legends. The signature replaced the Red Auerbach memorial logo used during the 2007 season.
This man indeed had the Midas Touch…..
Beyond trophies, Auerbach is remembered as a pioneer of modern basketball, redefining basketball as a game dominated by team play and tough defense rather than individual feats and high scoring and introducing the fastbreak as a potent offensive weapon. He groomed many players who went on to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame but more importantly, Auerbach was vital in breaking down color barriers in the NBA. He made history by drafting the first African-American NBA player in Chuck Cooper (1950), and introduced the first fully black starting five in 1964. Famous for his polarizing nature, he was also well-known for smoking victory cigars when he thought a game was decided, a habit that became cult in Boston.
There have been heartbreaking seasons, a revolving door coaching policy, bad trades, and all sorts of various pitfalls along the way. Today is the day after the sadness ended. Thank you Boston Celtics, from a grateful fan.
Here is my very favorite picture from last nights game. I love the bewildered look on Kobe’s face
I also like watching them (note I got pictures of them in home and away uniforms for Y’all) I’m a thorough researcher and good like that.