Tom Heinsohn, Champion Celtic as Player and Coach, Is Dead at 86

Tom Heinsohn, the Hall of Fame ahead who performed on eight N.B.A. championship groups with the Boston Celtics, coached them to 2 titles and grew to become their passionate broadcaster for greater than 40 years, died on Monday at his dwelling in Newton, Mass. He was 86.

Jeff Twiss, a Celtics spokesman, mentioned the trigger was renal failure, including that Heinsohn had had a number of diseases, together with diabetes and continual obstructive pulmonary illness, or COPD.

Playing on the parquet ground of the previous Boston Garden from 1956 to 1965, Heinsohn introduced an excellent taking pictures contact to the dynasty engineered by Coach Red Auerbach. He cherished to shoot, most famously hitting flat-trajectory jumpers, and he had a lethal operating hook.

Heinsohn was the N.B.A.’s rookie of the 12 months in 1957, capping the season by scoring 37 factors when the Celtics defeated the St. Louis Hawks for the primary N.B.A. championship of their historical past. He was a six-time All-Star.

He was bemused by that calling, spawned in his grammar school years in New Jersey.

“I was probably the least likely artist,” he once told The New York Times. “As a coach I was the Ralph Kramden of basketball, always stomping and screaming.”

“Though Red yelled at him for about an hour every day, it wasn’t enough,” Russell wrote. “Tommy should have been a much better rebounder than he was, and he never got into peak condition.”

But as K.C. Jones told Dan Shaughnessy in “Ever Green” (1990), “You couldn’t intimidate Heinie ’cause he was too busy shooting the ball and thinking, ‘My shot, my shot, my shot.’”

Heinsohn got revenge on Auerbach when he turned a practical joke back on him, handing him an exploding cigar — Auerbach had once given him one — which the coach lit, only to have it blow up in his face.

Heinsohn was president of the N.B.A. players’ association when a pension dispute delayed the players taking the floor at Boston Garden for the start of the 1964 All-Star Game. They did come out of their locker rooms, and the issue was eventually resolved.

Heinsohn retired because of a foot injury when he was only 30 years old, having averaged 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1986 as a player and in 2015 as a coach.

Coaching Celtics teams built around center Dave Cowens and guard Jo Jo White, along with veterans like Havlicek, Paul Silas and Don Nelson, Heinsohn had a string of winning seasons. In addition to winning two championships, he was the N.B.A.’s coach of the year in 1973, when the Celtics had a league-best 68-14 record, though they lost in the playoffs to the Knicks, the eventual league champions.

Auerbach, who put those Boston teams together as the general manager, replaced Heinsohn with Sanders in January 1978 when the Celtics were 11-23, but called it “the most traumatic experience in my 32 years in the N.B.A.” He complained that the players had been around Heinsohn so long that they didn’t seem to be listening to him any longer.

But Heinsohn was very much a Celtic for decades to come as their TV analyst. Playing off his longstanding fury with referees’ calls, he once did a Miller Lite commercial in which the former referee Mendy Rudolph ejected him from a bar in an argument over whether the beer was less filling or tasted great.

Heinsohn is survived by two sons, Paul Heinsohn and David Heinsohn-Roe, and a daughter, Donna Kumf, all of whom he had with his first wife, Diana Heinsohn; his partner, Karen Veinotte; his sister, Marion Merletto; and seven grandchildren.

Heinsohn was a color commentator and studio analyst for the Celtics into 2020 but was replaced for road games by Brian Scalabrine several years ago.

Mike Gorman, Heinsohn’s longtime partner as the Celtics’ play-by-play announcer, viewed him as a Celtic for life.

“Tommy doesn’t really do color,” Gorman told The Boston Globe in 2005. “In his heart he’s still coaching the Celtics and always will be. If it was possible to still be playing for this team, he would be.”

Alex Traub contributed reporting.

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