Tommy Heinsohn, a former Boston Celtics player, coach and broadcaster who is a two-time Hall of Famer, has died, the team announced on Tuesday. He was 86 years old. Heinsohn is the only person to be involved with the Celtics' 17 NBA championships.
"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 a 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."
We take this time to celebrate Tommy Heinsohn’s life and legacy, and to share in the sorrow of his passing with his family, friends, and fans. As long as there are the Boston Celtics, Tommy’s spirit will remain alive.November 10, 2020
Heinsohn started his Celtics career in 1956 as a player. He was named to the All-Star team in 1957, won the Rookie of the Year and helped the Celtics win the NBA title. From there, Heinsohn would be named an All-Star five more times and led the Celtics to seven consecutive championships (1959-1965). During that time, Heinsohn was the team's leading scorer in four of those titles runs.
In 1969, Heinson became the Celtics head coach and went on to have a successful career. He led the franchise to NBA titles in 1974 and 1976, won five Atlantic Division titles and was named coach of the year in 1973 after the team won 68 games. Heinsohn was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and again as a coach in 2015. He's one of only four people to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and a coach.
"I was flattered, but I knew that Russell still had a few years left," Heinsohn said in an interview with Michael McClellan when talking about accepting the head coaching position with the Celtics. “I couldn’t accept the job because, aside from Red, there was only one other person who could coach and motivate Bill Russell – and that was Bill Russell." Heinsohn played college basketball at Holly Cross from 1953-56 and became the school's all-time leading scorer. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and played high school basketball at Saint Michael's.