BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics lost an icon on Tuesday with the passing of Tommy Heinsohn, who leaves a lasting impression on the franchise as a player, a coach and as a broadcaster.
No one bled green like Tommy, who won eight titles with the Celtics as a player and two others as a head coach. He brought Celtics basketball into the homes of millions of viewers for over 40 years as the team’s color commentator, sending out thousands of “Tommy Points” while also finding new and unique ways to disagree with officials.
Those Tommy Points will live forever, and plenty more will be given out throughout Celtics history in Heinsohn’s honor. But there may never be another like Tommy Heinsohn, and many took to Twitter after news of his passing to honor the NBA legend.
Celtics great Paul Pierce summed it up well with just a sad emoji:
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) November 10, 2020
Bill Russell shared a touching tribute for his former teammate:
We were rookies together and friends for life. In life there are a limited number of true friends, today I lost one.
RIP Heiny. pic.twitter.com/nKJn0DqgJJ
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) November 10, 2020
Several other former Celtics shared their condolences on Twitter, as did current Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
Damn RIP Tommy Heinsohn!!! “The Little guy” that’s the nickname he gave me. Will miss his voice and everything he brought to the game especially Celtics basketball
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) November 10, 2020
My love and prayers goes out to the family of Mr. Tommy Heinsohn.
I’m thankful for the impact you left on the game and for all the “tommy points!”
Gone but never forgotten
— Evan Turner (@thekidet) November 10, 2020
Rest In Paradise Tom Heinsohn! #LEGEND 🙏🏾😢
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) November 10, 2020
Miss you already, your voice will forever be in my head from playing at TD when making a great hustle play, you giving me a (Tommy Point) the talks we use to have about the game of basketball was the best. You will be missed, but never forgotten. 🙏 https://t.co/vSJEodE7cf
— Leon Powe (@Leon_Powe) November 10, 2020
Rest In Peace, Tommy. You have meant so much to the six decades of Celtics’ fans that you shared the game with as a HOFer in every facet… An Incredible person, teammate and mentor. https://t.co/gdQ0CHTQd1
— Brad Stevens (@BCCoachStevens) November 10, 2020
RIP Tommy Heinsohn you were joy to listen to and learn from my heart is heavy today
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 10, 2020
I don’t know what to say except that Tommy didn’t love basketball. He lived it. He didn’t love the Celtics. He lived the Celtics. And all the players that wore the ☘️☘️- they were his life.
Will miss you Tommy! pic.twitter.com/MR41Y0PIk5
— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) November 11, 2020
Heinsohn’s broadcasting partner, Mike Gorman, put it best:
Roughly 2800 times I sat down with Tommy to broadcast a game. Every time it was special. HOF player…HOF coach…HOF partner. Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice. Rest In Peace my friend. It has been the privilege of my professional life to be the Mike in Mike & Tommy.
— Mike Gorman (@celticsvoice) November 10, 2020
Barstool Sports honored Tommy the Commentator, sharing a clip of some of his more famous disagreements with the officials.
RIP to Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn pic.twitter.com/FA7MhMMW2m
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 10, 2020
In a statement, Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Boston’s ownership group called Heinsohn “the ultimate Celtic.” The Celtics organization added that it will be “hard to imagine the Boston Celtics without Tommy Heinsohn.”
“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,” the statement said, in part. “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.”
Heinsohn was an eight-time champion as a Celtics player from 1956-65, and then coached the team to two more titles in 1974 and 1976. He started his broadcasting career with the Celtics in 1981, providing his unique insight into games (and dislike for the officials) through last season.