Red Auerbach Rumors
And Riley, more than the other three, was an opportunist — he never stopped looking for a better situation or another advantage. Riley was blessed with Popovich’s attention to culture and Jackson’s savviness for aligning with special players, but really, the dude has been more Auerbachian than he’d ever admit. We remember Auerbach as an insane competitor who never stopped looking for the next edge. Sound familiar? Once upon a time, Riley despised Auerbach’s Celtics so much that, during one mid-’80s practice at Boston Garden, he asked his trainer to dump the Lakers’ water barrel because he actually feared Auerbach had tried to poison it. But Auerbach is the only other NBA executive in 70 years, dead or alive, who could have pulled off LeBron and Bosh in the summer of 2010. Nobody else had enough foresight or charisma. It’s two people and two people only.
Maxwell freely admitted it was difficult watching Fred Roberts and Mikki Moore wear No. 31 before it was retired. And he suggested that the Celtics formulate a list — with the help of a committee of former players, executives, and public relations employees — of players whose numbers would be considered untouchable. Obviously, No. 2 (Red Auerbach), 6 (Russell), 17 (Havlicek), and 33 (Bird) would be on that list. But what about 18 (Cowens), 21 (Bill Sharman), 22 (Ed Macauley), 23 (Frank Ramsey), 24 (Sam Jones), and 25 (K.C. Jones)? Would No. 15 (Heinsohn), 16 (Tom Sanders) or 19 (DonNelson) be considered untouchable?
Rivers, who led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship and to Game 7 of the Finals in 2010, said he still feels a strong bond with the organization. “It’s more because of the Celtics and more because of Red Auerbach,” Rivers said. “When you’re a Celtic, you become a Celtic, you stay a Celtic no matter where you’re at, and you always want them to do well. That’s what stood out for me there. When we won it, looking at Tommy Heinsohn almost in tears because we won, I thought was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I’ll never forget that and that will always be a part of me, so yeah, I want them to do great. Probably two games, I don’t. It is nice being in the West than in the East, then you can cheer for them a little bit more.”
Amazing as Auerbach’s last admission sounds for the man who’s been making Boston’s draft picks and trades, other general managers say it’s the truth. “I think Red is probably the greatest general manager and coach we’ve ever had in this league up to this point,” says Donnie Walsh, now in his fourth season as the Indiana Pacers’ team president and GM. “I’ve read all his books, but I don’t think I’ve ever personally talked to him.”
“I feel like my back’s up a little bit because this is the premier organization, or history certainly, in the NBA. [It is] one of the finest legacies on and off the court in the world history of sport. People see that. Kevin Garnett saw it. When we introduced him at that press conference back in ’07, he took an extra 15 minutes before the press conference even started and he went on his own onto the court, which was darkened at the time, and he looked up at each banner and he soaked it in. All 16 banners. He thought about each banner and he said he mentally hung a 17th banner up there. Then we went into the press conference. That’s the person we want here. Someone who gets it. Someone who Red Auerbach would be proud to coach. They’re out there and we’ll go get them.”
Ian O’Connor: Pre-parade note on how the #Celtics & the greatest executive of all handed Tony Parker to San Antonio in the 2001 draft… Chris Wallace wanted Tony Parker at 21 in 01 draft; Red Auerbach banged his cane on floor & said,”I want (Joe) Forte.” #Spurs