Died when: 89 years 38 days
Star Sign: Virgo
Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach (September 20, 1917 – October 28, 2006) was an American basketball coach of the Washington Capitols, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and, most notably, the Boston Celtics. After he retired from coaching, he served as president and front office executive of the Celtics until his death. As a coach, he won 938 games (a record at his retirement) and nine National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in ten seasons (a number surpassed only by Phil Jackson, who won 11 in eighteen seasons). As general manager and team president of the Celtics, he won an additional seven NBA titles, for a grand total of 16 in a span of 29 years, making him one of the most successful team officials in the history of North American professional sports. Auerbach is remembered as a pioneer of modern basketball, redefining basketball as a game dominated by team play and defense and for introducing the fast break as a potent offensive weapon. He groomed many players who went on to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Additionally, Auerbach was vital in breaking down color barriers in the NBA. He made history by drafting the first African-American NBA player, Chuck Cooper in 1950, introduced the first African-American starting five in 1964, and hired the first African-American head coach in North American sports (Bill Russell in 1966). Famous for his polarizing nature, he was well known for smoking a cigar when he thought a victory was assured, a habit that became, for many, "the ultimate symbol of victory" during his Boston tenure. In 1967, the NBA Coach of the Year award, which he had won in 1965, was named the "Red Auerbach Trophy", and Auerbach was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. In 1980, he was named the greatest coach in the history of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America, and was NBA Executive of the Year in 1980. In addition, Auerbach was voted one of the NBA 10 Greatest Coaches in history, was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and is honored with a retired number 2 jersey in the TD Garden, the home of the Boston Celtics.