Basketball Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn, who starred for the Boston Celtics as a player and later coached the team, has died, the team announced Tuesday. He was 86.
The Celtics’ starting forward from from 1957 to 1965, Heinsohn helped Boston to eight NBA championships. He then coached the Celtics for nine seasons, adding two NBA titles. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1973.
Heinsohn also was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
“It’s hard to imagine the Boston Celtics without Tommy Heinsohn,” the Celtics said in a statement Wednesday. “There isn’t a generation of Celtics fans for whom Tommy’s presence hasn’t been felt. He is the only person to be an active participant in each of the Celtics' 17 world championships, an extraordinary and singular legacy.”'
Heinsohn was a six-time all-star for the Celtics and averaged 18.6 points per game during his career.
In 1981, Heinsohn joined Mike Gorman in the Celtics broadcast booth and was still calling home games into the 2018-19 season, ESPN reported. He worked as a studio analyst when the Celtics were on the road.
Heinsohn was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Aug. 26, 1934. He grew up in Union City, where he attended St. Michael’s High School. He played collegiately at Holy Cross University. He played three seasons for Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders to the NIT Championship in 1954.
Heinsohn’s No. 15 jersey with the Celtics hangs from the rafters at the TD Garden, and Holy Cross retired his No. 24 jersey. He was the all-time leading scorer at Holy Cross when he left the school and is now fifth overall.
Heinsohn also appeared in a humorous Miller Lite commercial in 1976, bantering with NBA referee Mendy Rudolph. When the two begin arguing, Rudolph blows his whistle and ejects Heinsohn from the bar.
“For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy’s rich personality that defined the man,” the Celtics said in their statement. “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.”
© 2021 Cox Media Group