Tommy Heinsohn was a massive Celtics homer.
Today, for this moment – and because there’s no doubt he would’ve taken it that way – that is a compliment.
Tom Heinsohn, the Celtics’ accomplished and animated renaissance man who was involved in all 17 of the franchise’s National Basketball Association titles as a player, coach, and commentator, has died, according to multiple people affiliated with the NBA. He was 86.
Heinsohn was one of the NBA’s iconic figures. He was unapologetically himself – competitive, gregarious, opinionated. And Boston. Heinsohn was so very Boston.
He won eight championships and made six All-Star teams and four All-NBA second teams while spending his entire nine-year playing career with the Celtics. He later coached Boston for another nine years, winning two championships (1974, 1976). Then, he called Celtics games as color commentator, endearingly criticizing referees for any call that went against his home team.
Heinsohn’s Boston allegiance shouldn’t overshadow how impressive his basketball contributions were in any context. Only Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, Lenny Wilkens and John Wooden have made the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.
But Heinsohn’s career did come in a context. And he was exceedingly pleased it was so intertwined with the Celtics.