The Ultimate Tommy Point: Heinsohn's second trip to the Hall of Fame
ESPN Boston - To most around [Head Coach of the Celtics Brad] Stevens' age (38), Heinsohn is best known as a referee-disdaining, green-pompom-waving caricature in his role as Celtics TV color commentator. Unfazed by hyperbole, Heinsohn compared undrafted 26-year-old rookie center Greg Stiemsma to his former teammate -- and 11-time NBA champion -- Bill Russell a few years back, leaving the entire viewing audience (and all of the Internet when the clip started circulating) slack jawed.
But that's TV Tommy. To Stevens and those steeped in the history of the Celtics organization, Heinsohn is the gold standard. He is Mr. Celtic.
This week, Tommy Heinsohn enters the Basketball Hall of Fame again, this time as a coach. As a player Heinsohn helped the Celtics hang eight championship banners in nine seasons. In his nine year stint as Boston’s head coach, he helped win two more.
Tommy Heinsohn is as closely connected as anyone could be to each of the Boston 17 championships. Name the role and “Heinsohn” goes on the back of the jersey: player, coach, broadcaster, and/or distributor of Tommy Points.
With a resume covered in championships as a player and cult hero status as a commentator, Heinsohn’s coaching accomplishments sometimes get lost in the shuffle. He posted 427 wins as head coach of the Celtics-- a record second only the architect of the Celtics Red Auerbach.
Perhaps most impressive-- which is really saying something-- is that Heinsohn is just the fourth man in history to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame for two different distinctions. He joins Bill Sharman, John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens in that honor.
Always unwaveringly supportive of the C’s -- hilariously here and here-- Heinsohn’s influence has been a steadying force for Boston in good times and in bad. Former head coach Doc Rivers leaned on that support from Heinsohn throughout his tenure in Boston.
"Tommy was the absolute best," Rivers said. "Tommy was great, obviously, when we were winning, but, for me, Tommy was the best when we were losing -- those two or three years. He would see me sometimes and just come over and sit with me on the plane. He got it. He just kept telling me over and over, 'You're a really good coach. You're really good. You just need to hang in there.' ... I don't know how many times he told me that.”
Less than 4,000 men have played basketball in the NBA. Less than 400 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Only four have the distinction of being inducted for being among the best in two categories. An extremely rare group that now includes our pal Tommy. That makes perfect sense though doesn’t it? There’s only one of him.