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Tommy Heinsohn, who will live forever in Boston Celtics lore as a forward, coach and broadcaster, has died, per multiple reports. He was 86.
While Heinson was a six-time All-Star during the Celtics’ era of Bill Russell and Red Auerbach in the 1960s, a lot of NBA fans may know him best as the in-game analyst during CBS broadcasts of Finals games in the ’80s. It was then that Heinsohn teamed with play-by-play man Dick Stockton to offer insight for the championship runs of Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird’s Celtics.
Meanwhile, Celtics fans have always known Heinsohn. He had been the color commentator for Celtics broadcasts since 1981. Heinsohn’s booming voice usually served in the role of the ultimate homer, loudly questioning officials and awarding “Tommy Points” to a play or performance made by a Celtics player.
Heinsohn coached the Celtics from 1969-78, and is the only person affiliated with the franchise to have served in an official team capacity in each of their 21 runs to the Finals and 17 championships. He is also one of just four people inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach — with the media wing likely awaiting.
Along with his passion for the game, Heinsohn was an accomplished artist and painter.
Heinsohn’s No. 15 was retired by the Celtics in 1965. A native of Jersey City, N.J., the 6-foot-7 Heinsohn attended college at Holy Cross and departed as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,789 career points. The Celtics drafted him with a regional pick in 1956.
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I grew up a Lakers fan and couldn’t stand all those Celtic teams in the 60’s. But over time I grew to really enjoy him as a TV guy. Looking back on it he was a great player and coach.
I remember that funny commercial he did with referee Mandy Rudolph for Miller light beer. R.I.P.