Statements On Red Auerbach
The death of Red Auerbach has touched players, coaches, and opponents around the game of basketball. The following are memories, thoughts, prayers and tributes from those who knew Auerbach best.
John Havlicek: "I've seen him laugh, I've seen him cry, I've seen him angry, I've seen him celebrate and there's only been one guy with the Boston Celtics who has been there for every championship and that is Red Auerbach."
K.C. Jones: "Although I can't give you a clear definition, that thing called Celtics Pride does exist. If I tried to express it in a few words, I think it would sound corny. It's much easier for me to tell you who created Celtics Pride. Like the creation of a life it took two people - Red Auerbach and Bill Russell."
Don Nelson: "Obviously, this is difficult news for me to accept. Red was my mentor. He had a tremendous impact on me as a basketball player and coach and is responsible for any success that I've had in my career. Any conversation regarding the greatest coaches in NBA history should begin with Red Auerbach. He was a pioneer, an innovator and, most notably, an incredible winner. His great accomplishments - such as eight consecutive NBA titles - are simply mind-boggling, hard to fathom and will never be duplicated. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the NBA community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family."
Kevin McHale: "Red was a man who was bigger than life. His impact on the game of basketball and the NBA is immeasurable. He was a huge part of my time in Boston, and for that I am forever grateful. Red will be missed by many, many people. The Celtics will never be quite the same without Red Auerbach."
Jerry West: "This certainly is not a happy day for basketball fans. Red was an enormous presence and his contributions to the game of basketball withstood the test of time. During my career, I had the misfortune of having to play against Red and his Celtics. He was an incredible coach who had a unique way of dealing with his players and getting them to play a simplistic, defensive game. His players rallied around him and respected him each and every night. This truly is a passing of a legendary person in the world of basketball. On a personal level, I enjoyed a tremendous relationship with him over the years. Red deserved every accolade he ever earned and he will be missed deeply."
Larry Bird: "Red Auerbach was one of the most influential people in my life. Not only was he an inspiration to me throughout my career, he became a close friend, as well. There could only be one Red Auerbach and I'll always be grateful for having the opportunity to experience his genius and his dedication to winning through teamwork."
Pat Riley: "Today is a sad day for everybody that knew Red, that competed against him, that enjoyed watching him. He was one of the great, if not the greatest coach, in the history of all of basketball. His record speaks for itself. What he did for the Celtics in the time he was there, not only in winning Championships, but creating this incredible tradition that lives on today, will never be matched. We are going to miss him."
Antoine Walker: "This is unfortunate. I knew him very well over the last seven to eight years that I was in Boston. The most amazing thing about him was that at his age, his knowledge of the game was still very good. He was always very aware of what was going on with the team, the organization and players around the league. I got to know his daughters, his doctors and I feel sad for them. This is a sad time for everyone who has been in Boston. He meant so much to the team and to the community. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to have a personal relationship with a guy of his stature.
For Boston and the league, we lost an icon who loved the game of basketball, who gave it everything. He is going to be missed, especially in Boston. Every time he walked into the arena, he got a standing ovation."
Paul Pierce: Every time he would come to town I would say, one day when we win the championship were going to light one up. He's really going to be missed, and I'm really sorry for the guys who didn't get to meet him. We were looking forward to seeing him at the game Wednesday night.
He helped me understand what the tradition was and pretty much what it means to be a Boston Celtic. I've learned that from the first day I got here.
We've just got to continue on with his legacy. It goes from the owners and all the way down to every person who's a part of the Celtics organization. To the guys who didn't get a chance to meet him, they're going to hear stories of Celtics Pride, the Celtics dynasty and tradition.
Frank Ramsey: "He fights for his team, he fights for the league, he fights for his players and he just fought sometimes."
Paul Silas: "Most of Red's players were intelligent players. It just kind of naturally followed that you stayed in something you loved. It was easy for most Celtics players to become coaches because of that tutelage and the way Red put things together."
Satch Sanders: "A lot of things that Auerbach put in place contributed to the Celtics tradition. That only tells you that smart people realize what is successful. As the old saying goes, if it isn't broke..."
Jan Volk: "He understood two things that players - particularly intelligent players that he had - see the game on the floor differently than he did. It was five sets of eyes above and beyond his. It was also important for the players to buy into it and that they had input. That stimulates creative thinking."
Jan Volk: "There was a message there that tells everyone that you are part of a team and you have to conform to what I am doing, and not me to you. But Red really did understand that everybody was different and that people respond differently to the same stimuli. Red was a very quick read on who needed what to get the most out of their ability."
Danny Ainge: "It is incredible that (the Celtics dynasty) lasted as long as it did, and Red was probably the single biggest factor in that carrying forward. You cannot take away from Russell, Cowens, Bird and those guys, but Red was the one constant throughout."
Wayne Embry: "Red was the ultimate team builder. He was a great motivator because he made an attempt to know and understand people. He knew the needs of his players emotionally and mentally. He respected you and your family and made us all welcome to the Celtics family. He had great compassion and created a family environment."
Don Chaney: "We were different. We were the only team at the time that had a dress code. We had to travel with shirts and ties. Red made sure the Celtics were different and remained different."
Rick Carlisle: "Winning certainly makes things more fun, and the more fun you are having the more you want to stay with something. So a lot of us have gone on to have a higher education in basketball because of the success of the franchise, ultimately because of Red Auerbach."
M.L. Carr: "That Red could take people from such a diverse background and blend them to the point of getting them to success night in and night out, for many years, is amazing in any setting. He always knew he had to pick his spots. He was a coach, a psychologist, a baby sitter, a tough guy, a boss and he was successful at doing them all."
Paul Westphal: "I think that Red was a positive motivator. That wasn't necessarily his image, because he was always all over the officials, but he really would instill confidence in his players. I think players were not afraid to make mistakes because they knew that red knew they might make mistakes once in a while. I also think he looked for players that had been on winning teams. I think he realized before most people that having a knack for winning is the greatest talent someone could have."
Bill Russell: "He never made any pretensions about treating players the same. In fact, he treated everybody very differently. Basically, Red treats people as they perceive themselves. What he did best was to create a forum, but one where individuals wouldn't be confined by the system. And he understood the chemistry of a team. People tend to think teamwork is some mysterious force. It isn't. It can, really, be manufactured, and he knew how to do that, to serve each player's needs. And, people always say you need to know how to win. But that's not enough if you want to keep winning. You also have to know why you win. Red always knew that, too."
Charlie Scott: "Celtics pride begins at the top. You see, Red is the Celtics. And in order to become a real Celtic, you've got to have that first real talk with him."
John Thompson: "I've never been around a man who managed men in my life any better than Red Auerbach. Particularly, the egos he had to deal with, the cross cultures he had to deal with and all the variations in the kinds of people that I saw him be associated with."