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Basketball Legend, Red Auerbach Died Saturday at Age 89

Basketball legend, Red Auerbach, who was enshrined at the Basketball Hall of Fame died of a heart attack, Saturday at the age of 89. He had guided the Celtics to 16 championships- first as a coach and later as general manager.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, memories of basketball legend Red Auerbach, who died this weekend. Jeffrey Brown reports.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    When the game was in hand and the Boston Celtics had another win, Coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach would light a cigar. It was a moment known to fans everywhere, as Auerbach molded the Celtics into one of the greatest dynasties in the history of American sports.

  • ANNOUNCER:

    The Boston Celtics are the NBA world champions!

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Beginning in 1950, through 16 years as head coach, Auerbach led the team to a then-record 938 wins and nine NBA championships.

  • ANNOUNCER:

    … putting the ball in play. He gets it out…

    … and the Celtics stole the ball. It's all over! It's all over!

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In his role as front office executive, he oversaw seven more.

    ARNOLD "RED" AUERBACH, Former Coach, Boston Celtics: When I looked around at all those flags up there, I really feel really great because they mean more to me than flags. They mean people; they mean paying the price for victory.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Auerbach made history in other ways as well, drafting the league's first African-American player, Chuck Cooper; starting its first all-black lineup; and making Bill Russell, a legendary player, its first black coach.

  • BILL RUSSELL, Former Player-Coach, Boston Celtics:

    I do not think that I would have been 50 percent as successful any place else as I was in Boston.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Larry Bird, a later Celtics star, had this to say.

  • LARRY BIRD, Former Player, Boston Celtics:

    Well, he had a unique style. He went out and got players that he thought could fit into the system. The one thing that always surprised me is how he could get players off other teams and they could perform better for the Celtics than they did for the previous team. So he had a talent that I think no one's ever seen before.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    For Auerbach, it was a question of motivating players but staying in charge.

  • RED AUERBACH:

    You develop a mutual respect. They respect you; you respect them. But nevertheless, you're the boss, you want things done a certain way, and that's the way it's got to be done. That's all.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In Boston this weekend, fans shared memories.

  • BOSTON CELTICS FAN:

    And I used to — I'd seem when he'd light up that cigar in the stand and light it up when they were winning that game, and that's a thrill that you don't get today.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Of course, not everyone was thrilled, as Auerbach well knew.

  • RED AUERBACH:

    I know some of the opposing guys used to get mad, but I didn't do it to offend them. I really didn't. And most of them knew it, except the time we went into Cincinnati and they gave out 5,000 cigars, figuring they'd beat us and everybody in the place would light a cigar in my face, so to speak. You talk about a motivating pre-game talk.

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