Tommy Heinsohn, Celtics legend and two-time Hall of Famer, dies at 86

Darren Hartwell
·2 min read

Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn dies at 86 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics community mourns the loss of one its most enduring icons.

Tommy Heinsohn, a Celtics legend who spent 64 years around the organization as a player, head coach and broadcaster, died Monday at age 86.

Heinsohn began his illustrious playing career at Holy Cross, where he left as the Crusaders' all-time leading scorer with 1,789 points.

How Tommy Heinsohn was nearly "Mr. Caterpillar" instead of "Mr. Celtic"

A Union City, N.J., native, Heinsohn joined the Celtics in 1956 as the team's territorial NBA Draft pick and promptly won NBA Rookie of the Year (over teammate Bill Russell) in his first season.

Heinsohn earned six All-Star nods over his nine-year NBA career and helped the C's win eight championships during that span.

He found even more success as head coach, taking the Celtics job in 1969 and guiding the franchise to two more NBA titles in 1974 and 1976. Heinsohn also won NBA Coach of the Year in 1973 and is one of just four Basketball Hall of Fame members to be inducted as both a player and coach.

For the current generation, though, Heinsohn's legacy endures most as a broadcaster.

Heinsohn joined play-by-play man Mike Gorman as a color commentator for Celtics broadcasts in 1981 and kept that role for the better part of three decades, witnessing three more Boston championships and taking fans from the Larry Bird years to the Big Three era to the present day.

Heinsohn was a staple in New England living rooms, bringing an infectious enthusiasm, a love for hustle plays -- from which the "Tommy Award" was born -- and, of course, a consistent disdain for NBA officiating.

Heinsohn, whose No. 15 jersey is retired to the TD Garden rafters, truly was "Mr. Celtic."

Celtics Talk Podcast: Remembering Tommy Heinsohn | Listen & subscribe