36 Facts About Red Auerbach


Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach was an American professional basketball coach and executive.

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Red Auerbach served as a head coach in the National Basketball Association, most notably with the Boston Celtics.

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Red Auerbach was the head coach of the Washington Capitols and Tri-Cities Blackhawks.

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Red Auerbach groomed many players who went on to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Additionally, Red Auerbach was vital in breaking down color barriers in the NBA.

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Red Auerbach made history by drafting the first African-American NBA player, Chuck Cooper in 1950, introduced the first African-American starting five in 1964, and hired Bill Russell as the first African-American head coach in North American sports in 1966.

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Red Auerbach spent his whole childhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, playing basketball.

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Amid the Great Depression, Red Auerbach played basketball as a guard at PS 122 and in the Eastern District High School, where he was named "Second Team All-Brooklyn" by the World-Telegram in his senior year.

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In those years, Red Auerbach began to understand the importance of the fast break, appreciating how potent three charging attackers against two back-pedalling defenders could be.

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In 1940, Red Auerbach began coaching basketball at the St Albans School and Roosevelt High School in Washington, DC Three years later, he joined the US Navy for three years, coaching the Navy basketball team in Norfolk.

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Red Auerbach later wrote that he "felt pretty bad waiting for [Gerard] to die" and that it was "no way to get a job".

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Red Auerbach left Duke after a few months when Ben Kerner, owner of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, gave him the green light to rebuild the team from scratch.

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Also in 1950, Red Auerbach took a position as the athletic director of Kutsher's Hotel in the Catskills, NY.

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Red Auerbach argued that the flashy Cousy lacked the poise necessary to make his team, taunting him as a "local yokel".

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Red Auerbach emphasized the need for role players like Frank Ramsey and John Havlicek, who became two of the first legitimate sixth men in NBA history, a role later played by Don Nelson.

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Red Auerbach popularized smoking a victory cigar whenever he thought a game was already decided, a habit that became cult-like in popularity in the Boston area.

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All in all, Auerbach directly coached nine NBA championship teams and mentored four players—Russell, Sharman, Heinsohn, and K C Jones—who would go on to win an additional seven NBA championships as coaches.

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Thirteen players who played for Auerbach have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame—Macauley, Ramsey, Cousy, Sharman, Heinsohn, Clyde Lovellette, Arnie Risen, Andy Phillip, John R Thompson, Russell, K C Jones, Havlicek, and Sam Jones.

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Red Auerbach traded away both Silas and Westphal because they wanted salary increases that would have made them higher earners than the best player on the Celtics, which was not acceptable to Auerbach.

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Red Auerbach knew that the brilliant, hardworking Bird would be the cornerstone of a new Celtics generation.

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In 1980, Red Auerbach achieved another great coup, which was dubbed "The Steal of The Century".

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In 1983, Auerbach named former Celtics player K C Jones coach of the Celtics.

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In 1984, after he relinquished his general managing duties to Jan Volk, Red Auerbach focused on continuing as president and later vice-chairman of the Boston Celtics.

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Red Auerbach would stay on with the Celtics as president until 1997, as vice chairman until 2001, and then became president again, a position he held until his death, although in his final years, he was weakened by heart problems and often used a wheelchair.

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Red Auerbach's brother Zang Auerbach, four years his junior, was a respected cartoonist and portraitist at the Washington Star.

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Red Auerbach recalled that on his 75th birthday party, 45 of his former players showed up; and when he turned 80, his perennial 1960s victim Wilt Chamberlain showed up, a gesture which Auerbach dearly appreciated.

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Red Auerbach died of a heart attack on October 28,2006, at the age of 89.

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Red Auerbach is credited with creating several generations of championship Boston Celtics teams, including the first Celtics dynasty with Bill Russell, which won an NBA record eight titles in a row.

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That was not surprising; Red Auerbach went after the players of the highest intelligence and character, and then of course paid them horribly.

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Two subsequent facts are perhaps most relevant in evaluating Red Auerbach's legacy: First, he was able to trade Maxwell to San Diego in exchange for former MVP Bill Walton, who was a major contributor to the team winning its 16th title in 1986, the last of Red Auerbach's career.

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Red Auerbach's story is documented in The First Basket, the first and most comprehensive documentary on the history of Jews and Basketball.

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From his early days, Red Auerbach was convinced that the fast break, where a team used a quick outlet pass to fast guards who run downcourt and score before the opponent had re-established position, was a potent tactical weapon.

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Further, Red Auerbach moved emphasis away from individual accolades and instilled the teamwork element into his players.

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Red Auerbach was known for choosing players for talent and motivation, with disregard for skin color or ethnicity.

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Red Auerbach constantly added new black players to his squad, including Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones, K C Jones, and Willie Naulls.

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When Red Auerbach gave up coaching to become the Celtics general manager in 1966, he appointed Bill Russell as his successor.

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