Basketball world pays respects to Auerbach at wake
WASHINGTON -- Celtics legends Larry Bird and Bob Cousy were among several basketball luminaries who paid their respects Monday night to Red Auerbach, the NBA coach, executive and pioneer.
John Thompson and his son, John III, who brought his whole Georgetown University team, also came to the funeral home to honor Auerbach, the Hall of Famer who guided the Celtics to 16 championships -- first as a coach and later as general manager. He died near his home in Washington at age 89 Saturday night.
"The world thought he was tough and mean and gruff and all that -- and underneath he was really a pussycat, if you knew him well," said Cousy, a Hall of Fame point guard who played for Auerbach. "He'd be mad at me if he knew I said that."
Auerbach's nine titles as a coach came in the 1950s and 1960s -- including eight in a row from 1959-66 -- and he was the architect of Celtics teams that won seven more championships in the 1970s and 1980s.
Those whose lives were touched by Auerbach spoke about not just his success with the Celtics and his forward thinking, but also Auerbach the person.
"When you take the Celtic job and you get a relationship with Red, you realize why he won," current Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "No. 1, he taught family, but he taught it in an intense way, and he had great love and intensity for the game and toughness."
Auerbach was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but he went to George Washington University, where the court is named in his honor, and lived in Washington.
"I know our guys have a feel for his importance to our sport, to the game of basketball, and to this city as well as Boston," said the younger coach Thompson, whose father played for Auerbach on the Celtics before coaching at Georgetown.
There will be a private funeral in Falls Church, Va., on Tuesday.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Sources: Sterling, Ballmer have 'friendly' talk
- Carter: LeBron wasn't pushed to Cavaliers
- Kings rally late to claim summer-league title
- LeBron kicks off tour of China with pianist
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
A LEGEND DIES
• Fans, players, politicians pay tribute
• Auerbach laid to rest in simple ceremony
• Bird, Thompsons among those paying respects to Auerbach
• Celtics to wear black clover leaf in tribute
• Simmons: Remembering Red
• O'Brien: A lasting impression
• Shouler: The consummate coach
• Sheridan Blog: Remembering Red
• Simmons: Meets legend in 2002
• Vitale: Red won't be forgotten
• Auerbach's influence still strong in NBA
• Red Auerbach dies at age 89
• League reacts to loss of 'basketball royalty'
• Fans in Boston react to death
• Auerbach in 2005 interview
• Green honors Red in 1999
• NBA Local: Red Auerbach edition
• Mailbag: Share your memories
• Coaching record
• Enshrined into Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969
• Named to NBA's Silver Anniv. team in 1970
• NBA Coach of the Year in 1965
• NBA Executive of the Year in 1980
• Selected to NBA's 35th Anniv. team in 1980 as "Greatest Coach in the History of the NBA" by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America (PBWAA)
• Member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
• Coached in the NBA East-West All-Star Game 11 consecutive years (1957-67) and compiled a 7-4 record
• Authored the widely circulated basketball book Basketball for the Player, the Fan and the Coach
Compiled by David Bearman, ESPN Research