Sports | November 10, 2020 5:52 pm

Boston Celtics Legend and NBA Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn Dead at Age 86

Heinsohn was with the team as a player, coach and broadcaster starting in 1957

Boston Celtics Legend and NBA Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn Dead at Age 86
Hall-of-Fame Celtic and broadcaster Tom Heinsohn at TD Garden.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

In today’s modern sports world of free agency, multi-million dollar contracts and social media, it is hard to imagine a player coming to a team and staying there for more than half a century. But that’s what Tommy Heinsohn, who won NBA Rookie of the Year honors during his first season with the Boston Celtics in 1957, did.

Heinsohn arrived in Boston in ’57 and stayed there first as a player, then as a coach and finally as a team broadcaster until his death this week at the age of 86.

The Celtics legend, whose retired number 15 hangs from the rafters at TD Garden, collected eight championship rings in nine seasons as a player and was named an All-Star six times on his way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

As a coach, Heinsohn added two more rings (’74 and ’76) before moving into a different spot on the sidelines to work as a broadcaster alongside his longtime partner Mike Gorman. The duo provided the commentary for fans during Boston’s glory days with Larry Bird and the original Big Three in the ’80s as well as the last Celtics championship run with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008.

“It’s hard to imagine the Boston Celtics without Tommy Heinsohn,” the team said in a statement. “There isn’t a generation of Celtics fans for whom Tommy’s presence hasn’t been felt. He is the only person to be an active participant in each of the Celtics’ 17 World Championships, an extraordinary and singular legacy … For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy’s rich personality that defined the man. A loving father, grandfather, and husband. A talented painter and a lively golf partner. Unofficial mentor to decades of Celtics coaches and players. A frequent constructive critic of referees. Originator of the most “Celtic stat” of them all, The Tommy Point. And a boundless love for all things Boston Celtics, a passion which he shared with fans over 64 years.”