Auerbach lit his victory cigar frequently

Updated: October 30, 2006, 6:07 PM ET
By Lisette Hilton | Special to

Signature Game
April 28, 1966 - In his last game on the bench, Red Auerbach lit up one more victory cigar. The Boston coach felt plenty satisfied as he puffed away with less than a half-minute left as the Celtics won their eighth consecutive championship, and ninth in 10 years, with a 95-93 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 in Boston Garden.

The Celtics scored the first 10 points of the game and increased their lead to 59-40 early in the third period. After Auerbach lit his cigar, the Lakers scored two late baskets to make the final score close. Bill Russell, who after Game 1 was named to replace Auerbach as coach, grabbed a game-high 32 rebounds and scored a team-high 25 points.

Auerbach, 48, will remain as Boston's general manager. He compared this championship to a poker game. "You remember how it is when you win a few pots and suddenly after the biggest killing you say you're going home. All the others want to kick the hell out of you. They want to get back at you before you quit.

"But I didn't say after this game I was going out. I said it last January. They all had their shots at me and the time to do it. But we beat them all. They had that run at us and that's what makes me so satisfied about this championship and retirement."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Auerbach's record of 938 regular-season victories lasted 29 years. It was broken by Lenny Wilkens in 1995.

  • Auerbach's graduate school thesis at George Washington focused on physical education programs for junior high schools.

  • It cost Auerbach less than $500 in phone calls to assemble the first pro team he coached. While the Washington Capitols had the best record during the 1946-47 regular season, they were upset in the Eastern Division semifinals.

  • As Celtics coach from 1950-66, Auerbach spent 10 months a year in Boston while his wife Dorothy, whom he married in 1941, and his two daughters lived in Washington, D.C. Dorothy died on Sept. 30, 2000. She was 83.

  • One of Auerbach's first decisions as coach of the Celtics in 1950 was not to draft Bob Cousy, an All-American guard from Holy Cross who was a favorite of the New England fans. Instead, he chose Bowling Green center Bob Share, who would never play for Boston and averaged just 8.3 points in his career.

  • However, the Celtics would get Cousy. When the Chicago Stags folded, their players were randomly dispersed throughout the league. Boston owner Walter Brown pulled Cousy's name out of a hat.

  • Auerbach fined players for every minute they were late for practice.

  • Complaining over what he perceived as bad calls, Auerbach's battles with the referees infuriated opposing fans, who sometimes threw eggs and vegetables at him in the league's early years.

  • Auerbach was named Coach of the Year in 1964-65 when the Celtics won their first 11 games on the way to a 62-18 record, the best mark in the league by 13 games. They averaged 112.8 points a game.

  • Auerbach had a terrific working relationship with Brown, who owned the team until his death in 1964.

  • After Brown died, the Celtics' ownership changed hands more than a dozen times. One year in the sixties, Auerbach had to pledge his personal credit to keep the phones working and had to write a personal check for $9,000 so the team could travel by plane to its next game.

  • In 1999, the Celtics commemorated Auerbach's 50 seasons with the team.

  • Also in 1999, Auerbach was the second inductee (Muhammad Ali was the first) by Northeastern University to its Center for the Study of Sport in Society's Hall of Fame. Created to honor people in sports who make significant contributions to society extending beyond the game, the Hall of Fame honored Auerbach as a pioneer in basketball race relations. President Clinton was the honorary banquet chairman.

  • In December 1999, The Sporting News named Auerbach as one of the 100 most powerful people in sports of the 20th century, noting his achievements for helping to integrate basketball. He was ranked 28th.

  • In 2002, Phil Jackson tied Auerbach's record of coaching nine NBA champions.

  • Auerbach was involved in many activities to help youth. He established the Red Auerbach Fund in 1985 to promote athletic, recreational and other youth activities throughout Massachusetts.

  • Auerbach's Red Auerbach Youth Foundation sponsors the annual Boston Celtics Youth Basketball Clinic and issues eight annual scholarships to Massachusetts high school students based on academic, athletic and leadership qualities.