Auerbach, Red 1917-2006
Auerbach, Red 1917-2006
(Arnold Auerbach, Arnold Jacob Auerbach)
See index for CA sketch: Born September 20, 1917, in New York, NY; died of heart failure, October 28, 2006, in Washington, DC. Athletic coach, business manager, and author. Best known by the nickname Red, Auerbach was the Basketball Hall of Fame coach, manager, and president of the Boston Celtics. Growing up in the days before basketball became a popular national sport, he played as a guard in high school and then on the George Washington University team. Completing a B.A. in 1940 and an M.A. the next year, he worked as a high school teacher and basketball coach in the early 1940s. From 1943 to 1946, Auerbach served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. After he returned to civilian life, the Washington Capitols team hired him to play in the Basketball Association of America. He led the Capitols to an Eastern Division title and then coached the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in Illinois for a season. When the Boston Celtics team was founded in 1950, Auerbach was brought on as coach. The National Basketball Association (NBA) had just been formed, and Auerbach's leadership brought popularity to the Celtics and contributed to making the NBA what it is today, according to many sports experts. Auerbach led the Celtics to nine NBA championships between 1950 and 1966. He was also a pioneer in integrating the sport. He was the first coach to pick a black player, Chuck Cooper, in an NBA draft, and the first to have an all-black starting lineup. Known for his aggressive coaching, as well as numerous run-ins with referees, Auerbach was a no-nonsense leader who emphasized teamwork and recognized talent. After turning over his coaching job to Bill Russell—also a landmark choice, as Russell became the first black man to coach an NBA team—Auerbach served as general manager and club president. As manager, he helped see the Celtics to seven more NBA titles. He retired from that post in 1986 but continued as president until his death. Named coach of the year in 1965 and inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968, Auerbach was also honored in 1985 with a statue at Boston's Faneuil Hall. The author of the classic book on his sport, Basketball for the Player, Fan, and Coach (1953; 3rd edition, 1975), Auerbach wrote about his life in Red Auerbach: An Autobiography (1977) and Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game (2004).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Auerbach, Red, and Joe Fitzgerald, Red Auerbach: An
Autobiography, Putnam (New York, NY), 1977. Auerbach, Red, and Joe Fitzgerald, Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Notable Sports Figures, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.
Los Angeles Times, October 29, 2006, p. B12.
New York Times, October 30, 2006, p. A23.