On this day in Boston Celtics history, the storied franchise retired legendary head coach and team president Arnold Jacob “Red” Auerbach’s jersey number in 1986.
Of course, Auerbach had given up the sport as a player long before becoming part of the Celtics organization, having played collegiately for George Washington University before the Second World War began. Rather, it was in recognition for building the NBA behemoth that won an unprecedented total of 16 titles in his lifetime as either head coach or general manager of the Celtics in a span of years stretching from 1957 all the way to 1986.
His career as an executive was and remains unparalleled in basketball and in professional sports more generally.
(AP Photo/Paul Benoit)
To that end, Auerbach was given the No. 2 jersey to retire in a ceremony to ensconce it in the Celtics’ home arena — first the original Boston Garden, then their current home of TD Garden.
The Celtic legend began his career with the team as its third-ever coach in 1950 and remained with the team in some capacity until his death in 2006.
— Honest☘️Larry (@HonestLarry1) February 9, 2021
Today is also the birthday of former Celtics shooting guard Wayne Kreklow, born this day in 1957 in Neenah, Wisconsin. An alum of Drake University, Kreklow was picked up by Boston with the 53rd overall pick of the 1979 NBA draft.
He played just one season with the Celtics after another prior spent with the Maine Lumberjacks of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA – that era’s version of the G League), averaging 1.2 points per game.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
He shares that birthday with Boston big man alumnus Joe Kleine, born in 1962 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
An alumnus of Notre Dame and Arkansas, Kleine was drafted out of the latter by the Sacramento Kings in the 1985 draft and played parts of three seasons with them before he was dealt to the Celtics in 1989 with Ed Pinckney for Danny Ainge and Brad Lohaus.
He played parts of 5 seasons with Boston in which he logged 4.4 points and 4.2 boards per game before he left the team in free agency to join the Phoenix Suns.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Former Boston big man Al Jefferson was born on this date as well, in Monticello, Mississippi in 1985.
Drafted directly from high school by the Celtics with the 15th overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft, Jefferson played parts of three seasons with Boston before being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves with Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair for Kevin Garnett in 2007.
He averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a Celtic.
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Finally, it is also the anniversary of the 2,000th career blocked shot of legendary Celtics center Robert Parish.
That would come in a 100 – 96 road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1992, Parish then only the fifth player in league history to reach such lofty heights.
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