Red Auerbach

106 years since the birth of the legendary Jewish coach

Red Auerbach born on 9/20/1917 is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA, he won 9 championships as the coach of the Celtics, and a total of 16 in the various positions in the team

Bill Russell and Red Auerbach, 1966 Champions. (photo: from Wikimedia)

The Boston Celtics are one of the two most decorated teams in NBA history, sharing the top spot with arch-rivals the Los Angeles Lakers with 17 NBA championships each. 16 of which were achieved under one person, the Jewish coach Red Auerbach, with nine he achieved as a coach and another six as financial manager and president.

Red Auerbach was born on September 20 as Arnold Jacob Auerbach in Brooklyn, New York, in the United States, to a couple of Jewish parents who owned a deli, and from a young age, he was attracted to basketball. Due to his red hair and fiery temper, he was nicknamed "Red". After a year at Seth Lowe Jr. College, Auerbach received a scholarship to the University of Washington, where he graduated with a master's degree in 1941.

In 1940 he began his coaching career when he coached at a high school in Washington. Over the years, Auerbach began to develop an innovative method in basketball called "Fast break", in which after the team grabs the ball, it is handed to the fastest player who advances with two players on his sides, with the player with the ball at the end of the attack passing the ball to another player.

Resigned twice en route to coaching the Boston Celtics

He began coaching in the BBA (one of the two leagues that would later form the NBA) and led the Washington Capitals to a league-record 11:49 record, including a 17-game winning streak, which was the league record until 1969. But was eliminated in the playoffs, Even in the following seasons, despite good achievements in the regular season, he was eliminated in the playoffs.

After three years with the team, he demanded from the owner to rebuild the team, but after being refused, he resigned and moved to become the assistant coach at Duke Blue, where he was supposed to replace coach Gerry Gerard who was battling cancer. Auerbach felt bad about the situation, which he defined as "waiting for Gerard's death" and moved to coach the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, the previous incarnation of the Atlanta Hawks.

John Mahnken, Auerbach resigned for him. (photo: from Wikimedia)

At the Blackhawks, he was given the green light to change the team, and he replaced 12 players in six weeks, he managed to significantly improve the team but still finished with a negative balance of 35:29, and after owner Ben Kerner replaced his favorite player John Mahnken, he resigned for the second time.

First championship for the club

A season later, in 1950, he was appointed coach of the Boston Celtics, where he became a legend. Walter Brown, the owner of the Celtics, asked journalists in desperation who he should hire as a coach to improve the team's situation, and the journalists recommended Auerbach. The player for whom Auerbach resigned from the Blackhawks, John Mahnken, also played for the Celtics at that time.

In his first six seasons with the team, Auerbach repeated what happened to him in his previous teams, great regular seasons alongside collapses in money time in the playoffs. The situation began to change when Bill Russell was drafted in 1955 and joined the team a year later. Together with Russell who contributed a lot to the defensive game, Boston finished in the 1956/57 season in first place in the league, with 44 wins and 28 losses.

Bill Russell in the Celtics uniform (photo: from Wikimedia)

In the final, Boston defeated Auerbach's previous team, which had become the St. Louis Hawks, 4-3 and won the first championship in its history. A year later, the Celtics finished in first place in the league for the second time in a row with 49 wins, in the final Boston met the Hawks again, but without Russell who was injured in the third game, they lost 4-2 and finished in second place.

In the 1958/1959 season, Auerbach led the Celtics to a new record in the history of the league with 52 victories in a season, and to another championship that began the great series of championships. In the finals, he defeated 4-0 who would later become the arch-rival, the Minneapolis Lakers who would later become the Los Angeles Lakers.

Red Auerbach with eight consecutive championships, an American sports record

From here, Auerbach and the Celtics went on a tremendous streak of eight championships, a streak that to this day is a record in American sports. One of the things that stood out in Auerbach's teams was the teamwork, when there was usually no significant scorer for the team. In the 1960/61 season, no less than six players averaged between 15 and 21 points. In no championship won by a player from his team, he did not finish as the king of points.

Auerbach made another history in a league that was considered racist in those years and many doors were closed to blacks when he put together in 1964, a quintet made up entirely of African-Americans: Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones, Rod Knowles, and KC Jones. He used to smoke a cigar every time he thought a game was decided in favor of the Celtics, something that became a trend in the city.

At the end of the eighth consecutive championship and the ninth overall, he retired and appointed Bill Russell as player-coach and set another history on the table, when Russell became the first African-American coach in the league.

KC Jones, one of the historic five (photo: from Wikimedia)

After he retired, he was appointed the financial manager of the club, a position he performed until 1984, in those years, despite a slight decline for a certain period alongside good regular seasons, which ended with elimination in the playoffs, the team won six more championships, when in 1978, one of the greatest players in history, Larry Bird, was selected in the draft, which raised the number The championships in which Auerbach was involved for 15.

Red Auerbach as club president

In 1984, he retired from his position as financial manager and was appointed president of the club, a position he held until 1997, and from 2001 until his death in 2006, when in the middle he was appointed vice chairman of the club. In 1986, while he served as president, the team won its 16th championship, but faded After that and did not win the championship until 2008.

During his lifetime Auerbach opened a basketball school named after him where he worked with young players until his last days. In addition he wrote seven books about basketball. In his last years his health condition deteriorated and he was repeatedly hospitalized. On October 28, 2006, he suffered a heart attack in front of his home and died.

Red Auerbach three days before his death, for his service in the Navy during World War II (photo: from Wikimedia)

The record achievement of nine championships as a coach was kept until 2008/09 when it was broken by Phil Jackson who did it precisely with the hated rival Los Angeles Lakers. Another record he held was the record for wins in a season (938) a record broken by Don Nelson in 1995, and held by Gregg Popovich. In 1996 he was chosen as one of the ten greatest coaches in history.


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