BOSTON (CBS) — Tommy Heinsohn, a member of the Boston Celtics organization since the 1950s, has died. He was 86 years old.
Known to the current generation of Celtics fans as a color commentator on the Celtics’ television broadcasts, Heinsohn was drafted by Red Auerbach in 1956 out of Holy Cross. As a player, Heinsohn won eight NBA titles. He was named an All-Star six times, and his No. 15 was retired by the team.
“It’s hard to imagine the Boston Celtics without Tommy Heinsohn,” the Boston Celtics said in a team-released statement on Tuesday. “There isn’t a generation of Celtics fans for whom Tommy’s presence hasn’t been felt. He is the only person to be an active participant in each of the Celtics’ 17 World Championships, an extraordinary and singular legacy.”
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.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 10, 2020
Heinsohn coached the Celtics from from 1969-78, winning two more NBA titles and earning Coach of the Year honors in 1973.
Heinsohn has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on two separate occasions — once as both a player and a coach. He is one of four people to have that honor.
Heinsohn worked on some Celtics broadcasts in between his playing and coaching career, and he re-entered the broadcast field after he finished coaching. Heinsohn went on to serve as a commentator on the national level before settling in to his work on Celtics broadcasts, working alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman for 39 years.
Happy birthday to the one and only, Tommy Heinsohn! 🎂 pic.twitter.com/1hBNw8yeBY
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) August 26, 2019
Though he stopped traveling for road games, Heinsohn was on broadcasts into the 2019-20 season.
“For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy’s rich personality that defined the man,” the Celtics’ statement said. “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 his 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.”