Saturday, November 11, 2006

Arnold "Red" Auerbach

The National Basketball Association recently lost ARNOLD “RED” AUERBACH, the single most important person to the game of basketball since JAMES NAISMITH created it. He died October 28th at the age of 89. Auerbach coached without assistants. He drafted and acquired players without the use of scouts, reports, or pre-draft camps. He had an uncanny ability to know what qualities would lead to success. He was initially criticized for entrusting a little guard from Holy Cross named BOB COUSY, who would essentially define the point guard position for future generations while becoming a Hall-of-Famer. Auerbach coached eleven Hall-of-Famers, but his coaching skills were often taken for granted. He was only named NBA Coach-of-the-Year once. He was also the first person to draft an African-American player, start five African-American players, and name an African-American man (BILL RUSSELL) as the head coach of an NBA team. He was a great executive, an underrated coach, and a pioneer that led the Boston Celtics to nine titles, including an unbelievable eight in a row.

There will never be another man in sports with as much autonomy as Red Auerbach enjoyed, and it doesn’t appear as though anyone else deserves it. Almost everything he tried was successful, and that much success can’t honestly be confused for luck. He knew what he was doing, and he was quite a character. Auerbach was known to light up a victory cigar on the bench after his team had secured a win, but before it was official. It was an arrogant move that would be unacceptable today because it would be loudly condemned as insensitive, and because if anyone tried to smoke indoor anywhere in America he would be mauled. But that old-school holier-than-thou elitist behavior gave the NBA a flavor it had lacked before. If you love basketball today, much of it is a result of what Red Auerbach did a long time ago. He was a ringleader, a trailblazer, an egomaniac, and a man that believed that everyone was welcome in the game, no matter his race or his size. He wanted the NBA to be great, and it is.

And so, in honor of the late great Red Auerbach, who absolutely loathed the insufferable Los Angeles Lakers coach – PHIL JACKSON, NBA Superblog will spread nasty rumors and unleash a barrage of tasteless jokes at the expense of Mr. Jackson throughout the season. Rest in peace, Mr. Auerbach.

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