Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn, who won 10 NBA titles over his 20 seasons as a player and coach for the Boston Celtics, has died. He was 86.
The team confirmed Heinsohn’s death on Tuesday.
“This is a devastating loss,” the team’s owners said in a statement. “Tommy was the ultimate Celtic. For the past 18 years, our ownership group has relied hugely on Tommy’s advice and insights and have reveled in his hundreds of stories about Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, and how the Celtics became a dynasty. He will be remembered forever.”
Heinsohn, who may be just as well known for his decades as a color commentator for the Celtics, spent his entire professional career in Boston, winning eight titles — including seven straight from 1959 to 1965. Heinsohn was the team’s leading scorer in four of the championship seasons. The six-time All-Star was also the 1957 Rookie of the Year and a four-time All-NBA second-team honoree.
Heinsohn retired in 1965 with totals of 12,194 points and 5,749 rebounds.
Following a three-year gap after his playing career ended, Heinsohn coached the Celtics from 1969 to 1978, leading Boston to titles in 1974 and 1976. He was the NBA coach of the year in 1973, when the team won a then-record 68 games.
Heinsohn accumulated a career coaching record of 427-263; his win total remains the second most in Celtics history, trailing only Auerbach’s 795.
Heinsohn was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2015. Along with his Hall of Fame honors as a player in 1986, Heinsohn is one of only four people — along with Bill Sharman, John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens — to be in the Hall as a player and coach.
In 1981, Heinsohn, who had previous TV experience, partnered with Mike Gorman to create a Celtics broadcasting tandem that lasted decades. Although Heinsohn’s role diminished over the years, he was still calling home games into the 2018-19 season and working as a studio analyst when the Celtics were on the road.
“Roughly 2800 times I sat down with Tommy to broadcast a game,” Gorman wrote on Twitter. “Every time it was special. HOF player…HOF coach…HOF partner. Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice. Rest In Peace my friend. It has been the privilege of my professional life to be the Mike in Mike & Tommy.”
Heinsohn is also in the College Basketball Hall of Fame for his time at Holy Cross, where he became the Crusaders’ all-time leading scorer then and still ranks fifth in school history.
“For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy’s rich personality that defined the man,” the Celtics said in a statement. “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.