December 6, 2006 - HOUSE HONORS RED AUERBACH, LEGENDARY CELTICS COACH AND BASKETBALL AMBASSADOR TO THE WORLD

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 497 to honor of Arnold “Red” Auerbach.  The Auerbach Resolution was introduced by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the Dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, along with Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and 57 cosponsors.  Red Auerbach, the legendary coach and executive of the Boston Celtics, made his home in Washington, DC.  He passed away on October 28, 2006.  In honor of Red’s achievements both on and off the court, Rep. Markey praised the passage of resolution before Congress concluded its work for the year.  Massachusetts Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and John F. Kerry introduced a similar resolution in the Senate. 


“Fans everywhere mourned the death of the one-of-a-kind coach and executive of the Boston Celtics.  Red’s talent, tenacity and strategic vision not only produced an amazing run of championships but also created a unique culture of teamwork, respect and loyalty that became known as ‘Celtic Pride,’” Rep. Markey said.  “There will never be another Red Auerbach – he was an American original whose impact on Boston and the game of basketball cannot be overstated.”

“Red was a pioneer – in sports, in civil rights, and as one of the architects of the new Boston.  He’ll never be forgotten – and there’ll never be another like him,” Sen. Kennedy said.

“Red Auerbach was not only one of the greatest coaches and executives in the NBA, he also was a champion in breaking down racial barriers and pressing diversity on the court,” Rep. Norton said.  “I was pleased to join Rep. Markey as an original cosponsor of this resolution to recognize Auerbach for his historic outreach and inclusion of African American athletes during his long career, but particularly because of his roots in the District of Columbia, having began his coaching career at D.C. high schools.”

“Plain and simple, Red Auerbach WAS basketball. He was more than just the greatest NBA coach of all time; he was an agent of change, hiring the first African-American coach in all of pro-sports, and drafting the league's first African-American player,” said Sen. Kerry. “I am happy today to join my colleagues in honoring a true Massachusetts legend.” 


Red’s record of success on the court and in the Celtics’ front office is unmatched – 16 world championships, including 9 as coach and record 8 in a row from 1959-1966, winner of almost two-thirds of the games he coached over a 20-year NBA coaching career and architect of one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports.

Red Auerbach is one of the greatest figures in the history of sports, and his lasting impact on our country transcends basketball.  His unrivalled ability to identify gifted players was fueled by his laser focus on talent and attitude, which left no room for considerations of race, creed or color.  As a result, in 1950 he drafted the NBA’s first African-American player -- Chuck Cooper; hired the first African-American head coach in professional sports in 1966 -- Bill Russell; and was the first coach to put together a starting lineup consisting entirely of African-American players in 1964. 

The entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation cosponsored the resolution as well.

The text of the Auerbach House Congressional Resolution is below:

Whereas Arnold “Red” Auerbach was born on September 20, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY, the son of immigrants from Minsk, Russia;

Whereas Red started playing basketball as a public school student in Brooklyn and later became a star guard for Eastern District High School, making all-scholastic second team in his senior year;

Whereas Red started his coaching career at St. Albans Prep School and Roosevelt High School in Washington, DC, before serving in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946;

Whereas in 1946, Red began his professional coaching career with the Washington Capitols in the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and led the team to the 1947 and 1949 division titles, joining the Boston Celtics as coach in 1950 after the BAA merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA);

Whereas Red’s record of success on the basketball court and in the Celtics’ front office is unmatched;

Whereas during Red’s leadership of the Boston Celtics, the team won sixteen NBA championships, including nine championships, with a record eight in a row, during Red’s tenure as coach;

Whereas when Red retired from coaching in 1966 to become general manager of the Celtics, he was the winningest coach in NBA history with 1,037 victories and had won almost two-thirds of the games he had coached over a 20-year NBA coaching career;

Whereas during his nearly 57-year tenure with the Celtics as Head Coach, General Manager, Vice Chairman of the Board and President, Red was the architect of one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports;

Whereas Red infused the Celtics organization with the values of teamwork, respect, tenacity and loyalty, creating a culture known as “Celtic Pride” that will be forever associated with the Boston Celtics franchise;

Whereas Red’s imprint on the Celtics, the NBA and the game of basketball is permanent and visible today in innovations that Red developed, including the “Sixth Man” role and fast break style of play;

Whereas Red was an effective and tireless ambassador for the game of basketball, both in the United States and overseas, conducting clinics, barnstorming with the Celtics, starring in the successful television series “Red on Roundball”, writing seven books on basketball, including the influential "Basketball For The Player, The Coach and The Fan", and participating with Celtic great and Hall of Famer Larry Bird in the instructional video, 'Winning Basketball';

Whereas Red received numerous awards and honors in recognition of his extraordinary achievements, such as selection as the NBA Coach of the Year in 1965, induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969, designation as the NBA “Executive of the Year” in 1980, and selection as “The Greatest Coach in the History of the NBA” by the Professional Basketball Writers' Association of America in 1980;

Whereas Red’s lighting of his cigar in the closing moments of an imminent Celtics’ victory became an enduring symbol of success in Boston and around the world;

Whereas Red’s legacy extends beyond the game of basketball and includes his important contributions to the advancement of a colorblind society through his decision to draft the NBA’s first African-American player, Chuck Cooper, in 1950, hire the first African-American head coach in professional sports, Bill Russell, in 1966, and field the first starting lineup in the NBA consisting entirely of African-American players in 1964;

Whereas the name “Red Auerbach” will forever be synonymous with winning, intensity, integrity and charitable causes; Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that--

(1)   Arnold “Red” Auerbach was a basketball genius who embodied the values of creativity, determination, versatility and commitment to helping the less fortunate;

(2)   Red Auerbach was a leader in the effort to break prevailing racial barriers in professional sports, through his decisions to draft, hire and prominently feature African-Americans on the Boston Celtics basketball team; and

(3)   Red Auerbach’s place among the greatest coaches and executives of all time is assured, his contributions to the betterment of society will always endure, and his life exemplifies the very best ideals of the United States.

 

# # #

 


 

 

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein
202.225.2836