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Today is Tommy Heinsohn's 76th birthday.  And to honor his day, I thought I'd write a little bit about Tommy and what he means to the Celtics, to the NBA, and to Celtics fans.   In 2009, Tommy was chosen as the first recipient of the NBA's Chuck Daily Lifetime Achievement Award. And no one deserves it more.  

Tommy Heinsohn loves the Celtics and has given most of his life to them in one facet or another as player, a coach and an analyst. He has been with the organization since he was drafted as a regional pick by the Celtics in the 1956 pick and in his rookie season, he helped lead the Celtics to their very first championship. Tommy and Bill Russell came into the league in the same season and along with Russell, Tommy was a big reason for all those titles that were won in the early years. He has been with the Celtics for 54 years.

Since 1981, Tommy Heinsohn has been the color analyst on the Celtics' television broadcasts and like Johnny Most, Heinsohn bleeds green and sees everything through green colored glasses. He is part of a team with Mike Gorman that has been broadcasting Celtics games for 26 years and they make up TV's longest running telecast duo.



Tom Heinsohn is a true representative of Boston Celtics' pride. Known for his hard-nosed style of play, yet possessing a superb shooting touch and good body control, Tom Heinsohn was vital in the Boston Celtics' dynasty of the 1950s and 1960s. Chosen as NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957, he helped the Celtics win eight NBA titles during his nine-year tenure, was named to the All-NBA Second Team for four years, and was an All-Star for six. His number 15 was retired by the Celtics in 1966.

But that isn't the end of Tommy's time with the Celtics. In 1969, three years after Red Auerbach retired, Tom Heinsohn was offered the post of head coach of the Boston Celtics. In what he called "guerrilla warfare," his teams kept the pressure on opponents at all times, controlling the tempo of the game and playing with great intensity.

During Heinsohn's eight full seasons as coach, Boston won five Eastern Division titles in a row, took two NBA Championships and compiled a 416-240 record. Heinsohn was replaced during the 1977-78 season as his veteran team got off to a slow start.

But Tommy still wasn't done with the Celtics. In 1981, the now-retired Heinsohn joined Mike Gorman as color commentator in the Celtics' TV broadcasts; they have since become one of the longest-tenured tandems in sports broadcasting history. Tommy was enshrined in the Hall of Fame on May 6, 1986.

As a broadcaster, Tommy has also made his mark. He has coined the term Tommy Points and every game he gives Tommy Points to players who make hustle plays throughout the game. And, at the end of the game, he gives the player of the game the Tommy Award. Tommy Points have been immortalized in the Urban dictionary with this entry:

An award given to an NBA player, usually a member of the Celtics, by Celtics color commentator Tommy Heinsohn (NBA Rookie of the Year 1956-57 for the Boston Celtics, NBA Hall of Fame Inductee 1986) for a great play that goes up and beyond the call of duty expected of the player. E.g. A steal, a blocked shot or great defensive play, etc.

Tommy's influence on the NBA isn't just with the Celtics. He was also one of the founding members of the NBA Coaches' Association along with Lenny Wilkins, Jack Ramsay and Bill Fitch in 1974. The Association grew from 18 members in 1974 to  over 225 today.

Only two men in this league have more championship rings than Tommy Heinsohn and that is Red Auerbach who was there for every one of the Celtics 17 championships while he was alive and Bill Russell, who has 11 rings as both a player and a coach. Tommy is right behind him with 10 championship rings as a player and coach. I highly the book "Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile?" by Tommy Heinsohn.  It gives a very good look behind the scenes into his career as a player and coach.

No one represents the game of basketball in all its facets more than Tommy Heinsohn. And no one deserves a wonderful birthday more than Tommy. Happy 76th Birthday Tommy!   If only the Redhead in Needham could be here to share it with him!

FLCeltsFan 8/26/2010 07:55:00 AM Edit
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19 Responses so far.

  1. tb727 says:

    Tommy is the absolute best. Funny how a guy from NJ could become so entrenched in Boston sports history.

  2. JR says:

    I LOVE Tommy! Thanks for writing this FL

  3. Nick/NSS says:

    What about Tommy's tenure as color man for CBS Sports in the 80's???? Also, I'm pretty sure he was the first president of the players association...

    Great read.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.
  5. thanks Nick! Yep, I missed his stint with CBS as a color man. But it was Cousy who was the first president of the players association.

  6. JR says:

    FL do you have any info on why Tommy never went back to coaching? Looks like he got out of coaching at 43 which is very young. I always wanted him to get another crack at the C's job. I wonder if he was offered coaching gigs by other teams but declined.

  7. Karl says:

    Love Tommy but everyone around DC hates him because he's so biased. Which in turn,makes me love him even more! Color guy's are supposed to be opionated and he's got the pedigree to back it up. Great read FL!

  8. JR, From what I have read Tommy enjoyed the broadcasting so much once he left coaching that he never looked back.

  9. Jenda says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  10. Laker Greatness says:

    Hey Tommy how did you get your job when you were just a below average player a LONG LONG time ago? Did you sleep with Red or what? How much voda do you guzzle during telecasts? You always sound hammered.RECOGNIZE LAKER GREATNESS. 3PEAT!

  11. LAKER 3PEAT says:

    What are you 103 years old now?Just do everybody a favor and go away.

  12. JR says:

    I think Tommy got his job by repeatedly beating the lakers asses first as a player and then as a coach. In fact I'm surprised no abuse charges were ever filed against Tommy and the Celtics. It actually took a former Celtic coaching your purple and egg yolk team for you to FINALLY win one.

  13. AC GREEN says:

    Hey JR you must have been born during the civil war to remember when the Sissys wre beating the Lakers because they didnt have a film footage of this even happening.You remind me of no talent towel waving ML Carr.

  14. Jenda says:

    "How much voda do you guzzle during telecasts?" Funny thing, voda is czech and also slovak and some other languages as well for water. I guess a lot, those studios are usually quite hot with all the lights and stuff.

  15. Lakers fans, Must be sad not to have any quality blogs for your own team to post on so that you have to troll on Celtics boards. Tommy is in the Hall of Fame and has 10 rings, mostly from beating the Lakers. He doesn't have to prove anything to you or to anyone else. True baskeball fans know what he has contributed to the game.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Happy Birthday Tommy!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Give em a Tommy point

  18. Tim Hardaway says:

    Hey AC Green go slick your jerry curl and get the fuck off this blog, you 40 year old-virgin piece of shit

  19. Chick Hearn Sucks Ass says:

    Faker Greatness- Why don't you get a clue and realize Tommy was a Hall of Fame caliber player. Stay off Celtics blogs and go re-count your Minneapolis championships. And then after that please kill yourself.

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