Sunday, October 29, 2006

Celtics legend Red Auerbach passed away last night of a heart attack at the age of 89. It was an odd coincidence that last night I had just finished Red's latest book, Let Me Tell You a Story, written with author John Feinstein.

I'm not going to write about Red's enormous legacy within basketball and with the Celtics. There are plenty of people more knowledgeable about basketball than me that are writing about that. What I would like to write about are my two close encounters with the great man.

The first time was sometime in the early '80s, at the beginning of the Bird era. I was at a Celtics game with some friends at the Old Garden. I have no memory of who they played or whether they won or lost. What I do remember is that as we were leaving the Gahden, Red Auerbach walked right past us. My friends and I just froze and our jaws dropped. We started babbling stuff like, "Oh my God, that's HIM!" Red had stopped briefly to talk to someone, so I'm sure he heard us going on like idiots and he soon went on his way, leaving us with nothing but a good story.

The second time I met Red was in a bit more formal setting. Red had come out with a business book called MBA: Management by Auerbach back in the mid-90's. He was doing a book signing at the old Lauriats bookstore in Downtown Crossing in Boston. I took a long lunch and rode the T to the bookstore to get an autographed copy of the book. I got to say hello to him and he shook my hand.

Red, we can never thank you enough for what you have done for the sports fans of Boston. I really started following sports in 1974, the year the Celtics won championship #12. Until the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001, Celtics championships were the only ones I had any first hand memories of. As long as ten people line up to throw a ball through a hoop, the legacy of Red Auerbach will never be forgotten.


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