‘Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice’: Reactions pour in following death of Tommy Heinsohn

BOSTON (WHDH) - Colleagues, friends, and fans are mourning the death of Tommy Heinsohn, a basketball legend who spent more than 60 years as a Boston Celtics player, coach, and broadcaster.

Celtics ownership announced the passing of Heinsohn of Tuesday, calling the 86-year-old’s death “a devastating loss.”

Heinsohn was drafted out of Holy Cross in 1956 and was with Boston for all 17 of its NBA championships.

With the help of teammate Bill Russell, Heinsohn was crucial in powering the Celtics to eight titles in nine years.

“We were rookies together and friends for life,” said Russell, who entered the NBA at the same time as Heinsohn. “In life there are a limited number of true friends, today I lost one.”

After retiring as a coach in 1979, Heinsohn rejoined the team’s broadcasts.

Mike Gorman, who broadcast nearly 3,000 Celtics games alongside Heinsohn, declared in a tweet that “Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice.”

“Every time it was special. HOF player…HOF coach…HOF partner. Celtics Nation has lost its finest voice,” Gorman wrote. “Rest In Peace my friend. It has been the privilege of my professional life to be the Mike in Mike & Tommy.”

Celtics radio play-by-play voice, Sean Grande, added, “As immeasurable a loss for our organization as was the privilege of 19 years of his personal tutelage.”

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Heinsohn for the strong connection he forged with the community, saying that “it was an honor and pleasure to get to know him.”

Gov. Charlie Baker called Heinsohn a “special piece of the sports fabric” in Massachusetts, remembering him for showing great “heart.”

Heinsohn was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and as a coach in 2015.

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