Tom Heinsohn - #15 - Boston Celtics
Forward-Center | 6'7" | 218 lbs. | Born: August 26, 1934
- No. 15 retired by the Celtics
- No. 24 retired by Holy Cross
- Ten-time NBA champion (eight as player, two as coach)
- NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957
- Six-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Coach of the Year in 1973
Drafted with Boston's territorial pick in the 1956 NBA Draft.
Tom Heinsohn - Biography
Seven decades of Celtics fans have had the opportunity to get to know Tommy Heinsohn. He is one of the most revered Celtics of all time thanks to his longstanding career with the team as a player, a coach and a broadcaster.
Heinsohn burst onto the national basketball scene at the College of the Holy Cross in nearby Worcester, Mass. He played three highly successful seasons at Holy Cross, one of which led to the NIT championship in 1954. Heihnson averaged 22.1 PPG and 15.5 RPG during those three seasons. His final season at Holy Cross was loaded with incredible statistics, as he finished the 1955-56 campaign with averages of 27.4 PPG and 21.1 RPG over 27 contests. He left Holy Cross as the all-time leading scorer with 1,789 points and still ranks fifth in that category. Holy Cross’ overall record during Heinsohn’s three seasons was 67-14.
The Celtics used their now-famous “territorial pick” to select Heinsohn in the 1956 NBA Draft. The territorial pick was used at the time as an incentive to help fans in specific territories follow local collegiate stars straight into the pros. It worked flawlessly with Heinsohn, as he began his pro career in Boston, less than an hour drive from the Holy Cross campus.
Heinsohn’s professional career took off immediately upon his arrival in the Celtics organization. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1957 after averaging 16.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 72 games. He helped a loaded Boston squad that featured the likes of Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Frank Ramsey win the NBA title in that very first season. Heinsohn was one of six players on that team who averaged double-figures in scoring over the course of the entire season.
That championship victory for Heinsohn in his rookie season was not an anomaly. He continued to bring home titles time and time again. He won eight titles overall during his nine-year career, including seven straight from 1959-1965. The 1957-58 season was the only season of his career in which he did not win a ring.
Heinsohn walked away from the game of basketball as a player following the 1964-65 season. He finished with career averages of 18.6 PPG and 8.8 RPG over nine seasons. He averaged at least 21.3 PPG in three consecutive seasons from 1959-62. Per tradition, Boston retired Heinsohn’s No. 15 jersey quickly after he retired, on Oct. 5, 1966.
That retirement ceremony came during a brief four-year window in which Heinsohn was not an official member of the Boston Celtics, although he was broadcasting their games. He returned to the team in a new capacity, as head coach, for the 1969-70 season.
Heinsohn’s coaching career got off to a much slower start than his playing career did. The Celtics went just 34-48 in his first season and 44-38 in his second season. However, things began to heat up after those first two years as Boston returned to prominence as a perennial contender.
The C’s went 68-14 in 1972-73 and Heinsohn was selected as the NBA Coach of the Year. The team did not win a championship that season, as the eventual champion New York Knicks upset them, but they returned with a vengeance the following season. Boston won 56 games in 1973-74 and defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals, helping Heinsohn win his ninth ring and first as a coach.
Another title would be brought home in 1975-76. The C’s won 54 regular-season games thanks to four players averaging more than 17.0 PPG, and then they knocked off the Phoenix Suns in the Finals to record Boston’s 13th championship.
Heinsohn retired from coaching following the 1978-79 season and soon decided to return to broadcasting, where he has been ever since. He and Mike Gorman teamed up in 1981 to become the Celtics broadcast team. They have been together for more than 30 years, which is one of the longest-tenured pair of broadcasting partners in sports history. During that time, Heinsohn was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
The last few generations know Heinsohn for his broadcasting technique, which is often critical of referees. He is known for his biased opinion of the Celtics, as he often believes that calls go against his team and awards “Tommy Points” to Celtics players who make hustle plays. Additionally, a “Tommy Award” has been introduced to Celtics television broadcasts, allowing Heinsohn to single out a Celtics player who displayed great hustle and production after each game.
Current Celtics fans may be great grandfathers or they may be 10-year-old children, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve all grown up with Tommy Heinsohn. He has bridged seven generations under three different roles and been exceptional at every one of them. That is the unparalleled legacy of No. 15.
Height: 6'7" Weight: 218 LBS Birth: 08/26/34 College: HOLY CROSS '56
First round draft choice, selected as a territorial choice, in 1956... retired in 1965.