October 28, 2006
I was enjoying the Barbra Streisand concert down here in Florida when I heard of the passing of legendary coach/front office executive Red Auerbach.
The news just broke my heart.
Arnold "Red" Auerbach was the architect of the Boston Celtics. He accomplished an amazing feat, coaching the Celtics to eight straight NBA titles. That, along with John Wooden's amazing run with UCLA, will not be matched in our lifetime, my friends.
Talk about a man with a passion and love for the NBA. He was a winner in every way. Growing up as a kid, I emulated him, wanting to teach the fast-break style of the Celtics. I didn't have guys named Russell, Cousy, Jones on my teams!
Who could ever forget him lighting up that victory cigar. He had good reason to, winning almost two out of every three NBA games he coached (938-479, .662 winning percentage). Those championship banners went up at Boston Garden because Auerbach knew how to handle his players.
I talked to Red many times over the years, and I told him he should thank me for Boston's success. You must be wondering, why I would say that? When I was with the Pistons, we made a deal. We traded for Bob McAdoo, for two draft picks. One ended up being Kevin McHale, the other was utilized in a deal that gave the Celtics a pretty good big man named Robert Parish. Boston also landed M.L. Carr -- so, in essence, the Celtics did very well, thank you.
You know who got the best of that deal ...
In a way, I owed Red for that one. I ended up getting the ziggy and ended up at ESPN.
I loved talking basketball with him. He had so many special stories about the world of basketball.
The NBA owes a great debt to Red. He meant so much to the league over the years. If you looked up the NBA in the dictionary, it would be fitting to have a picture of him right there.
Auerbach was an icon who represented the NBA in a positive way. He was so proud -- of the Celtics' tradition and of the league as a whole.
He will certainly be missed. The memories and achievements will never be forgotten. My friends, Red Auerbach was simply the best in basketball history. May he rest in peace.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.