Celtics patriarch Auerbach dies at 89

Oct 29, 2006 - 1:20 AM BOSTON (Ticker) - Red Auerbach, who made the Boston Celtics the greatest franchise in NBA history, died Saturday in Washington, the team announced. He was 89.

Auerbach joined the Celtics in 1950 as the franchise's third coach and also served as general manager, president and vice chairman of the board.

Auerbach guided the Celtics to their first championship as a coach-general manager in 1957 and an unprecedented eight straight titles from 1959-66, elevating them above such sports dynasties as the New York Yankees and Montreal Canadiens for consecutive championships.

Known for lighting up a cigar on the bench after victories, Auerbach retired as coach after the eighth straight title and appointed center Bill Russell as player-coach, but remained the team's general manager through the 1983-84 season and served as president from 1970-97 and then again in 2001.

From 1957-69, the Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons. They added five more titles in 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984 and 1986 for an NBA-high total of 16.

Phil Jackson is the only other coach to win nine NBA titles - six with the Chicago Bulls and three with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, Auerbach retired with a record of 938-479 in the regular season and 99-69 in the playoffs.

Auerbach is survived by two daughters, one granddaughter and three great-grandchildren.

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