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.”
We were rookies together and friends for life. In life there are a limited number of true friends, today I lost one.
RIP Heiny. pic.twitter.com/nKJn0DqgJJ
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) November 10, 2020
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.”
Roughly 2800 times I sat down with Tommy to broadcast a game. 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.
— Mike Gorman (@celticsvoice) November 10, 2020
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.”
There is no tweet.
There is no podcast, no documentary, no mini-series that can come close to encapsulating what Tommy meant to the game through the generations.
As immeasurable a loss for our organization as was the privilege of 19 years of his personal tutelage.
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) November 10, 2020
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.”
"He had such a great connection to the entire Boston community…it was an honor and pleasure to get to know him."
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 10, 2020
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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