The life of an NBA coach is one full of little praise and much stress. Players recieve most of the credit when things go well, and coaches are the first to be blamed for losses. It’s easy to criticize and question coaching decisions as hindsight is 20/20. It was not long ago that the media and fans were calling for Doc Rivers to be fired.
Where would the Celtics be now without Rivers though? Where would the Celtics be without some of the great coaches they have had throughout the decades? That is why it’s important to take some time and recongnize those coaches who have led the Celtics to glory, and are responsible for the 17 banners hanging from the rafters. Here are the top five coaches in Boston Celtics’ history.
5. Bill Russell
Russell is a bit of an enigma from a coaching standpoint since he was a player-coach. Russell won two championships in his time as a player-coach and more importantly, he broke a color barrier when he became the first African-American coach in NBA history. Russell had a .661 winning percentage in the regular season and .608 in the playoffs. The man just knew how to win, and as a result is also one of the greatest players in NBA history too.
4. Doc Rivers
Rivers’ strongest attribute may be his longevity. He has coached the third most games in Celtics’ history with 574 and will surely finish at least second on the list before he is done. He ended a 22-year championship drought in 2008, and since having the proper players, he’s made the Celtics a serious contender every year. Rivers should also be commended for his commitment to the Celtics’ organization. He figures to be the leader for years to come and should ascend up the list of Celtics’ mystique.
3. K.C. Jones
Jones only coached the Celtics for five years but was mighty effective, bringing home two championships. Jones did have Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish but it’s been seen before, managing stars’ personalities is not easy. Jones had a staggering .751 regular season winning percentage with the Celtics, the highest mark in Boston history. For his entire career, Jones ranks fourth all-time in NBA history with a .674 regular season win percentage. He also has the second most playoff wins by a Celtics’ coach.
2. Tommy Heinsohn
The man bleeds green. He played nine years with the Celtics, coached nine years for them, and has been broadcasting games with Mike Gorman since 1981. He was the 1972-73 NBA Coach of the Year, and led the Celtics to two titles. Heinsohn was all about forcing the tempo and getting out in transition. His teams were fast paced and fun to watch, and his 690 games coached for the Celtics puts him only behind…
1. Red Auerbach
There was never any competition for this spot. For an organization with numerous legends, he tops them all. He ammassed nine NBA championships, including eight straight. He sat at the helm of Boston’s bench for more than 1000 games and later transitioned into a front office position where he helped the Celtics win another seven titles. Unfortunately, Auerbach passed away the year before the Celtics won their latest title but his memory will forever live on in Celtics’ history, and his victory cigar smoke still lingers in the Garden.