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Ranking the Celtics Coaches

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Here is my list of the best to worst coaches in Celtics history, starting with the best winning season percentage records throughout the years - plus some inside things that you may not know along with statistics on how they did. I based my order on the stats of how the coaches did and the number of championships they have won.

1. Red Auerbach 1951-1966

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, basketball coach ever. What many people do not know is that Red was also a great basketball player. Red played for his high school team and was a three-time letter winner and all Brooklyn in 1935. After high school, Red got several scholarships but got cut by the team that he wanted to join. Finally Red landed up at George Washington in DC. Red did an outstanding job there and once again was named a three-time letter winner on the college level. After Red’s college basketball career he went on to play with the Harrisburg Senators 1942-1943 at the pro level until he was sent to war. Red joined the Navy from 1943–1944 and met many friends that helped him achieve what he did. While he was in the Navy, and a little afterwards, he was the assistant coach for Norfolk Navy Base and had many players on his team that played pro ball but had gotten drafted. Red earned a degree in college to become a high school PE teacher and became the coach at Roosevelt High School for 3 seasons and St. Albans Prep for a short time. What many people don’t know is that Red was assistant coach at Duke for a season and was rumored to become their next head coach but Red moved on. He was a Pro coach for the Washington Capitals in what was then the BAA before it became the NBA but left after 3 seasons because he despised the owner. Red’s first NBA team that he coached was the Tri-Cities Black Hawks for a season until he was offered the chance to become head coach of the Boston Celtics. Red won 8 straight championships and nine over all with the Celtics and made it the best organization in the NBA.

2. Tom Heinsohn 1970-1977

Tommy Heinsohn played High school basketball for St. Michael’s High School 1948-1952. Tommy was outstanding in high school, being named a four-year letter winner, All-Catholic League 1951-1952, All-State 1951-1952, All-American in 1952 and starred in the North-South game in Kentucky in 1952. After high school, Tommy went on to play college ball at Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Tommy was highly recruited by more than 40 colleges. He went on to have an outstanding college career leading and breaking records at Holy Cross. Tommy was named All-conference for two seasons, All-American, and All-New England in 1956. Tommy was drafted by the Celtics in 1956 and played his entire 10-year career in Boston. After an amazing NBA career Tommy became the coach of the Celtics and did a good job. To this day he is still involved with the Celtics as a broadcaster and is one of the biggest Celtics fans ever.

3. K.C. Jones 1984-1988

Born May 25, 1932 in Taylor, TX. Played at Commerce High School in San Francisco, Ca 1947-1951 and was named to All- Northern California team as a senior in 1951. Jones went on to play at the University of San Francisco from 1952-56. While Jones was at San Francisco his team won back-to-back championships, was All-American in 1956, and was a member of the U.S Olympic gold medal team in 1956. After playing in college, Jones was drafted by Boston in 1956 in the second round but did not join the team until 1958, after serving two years in the Military. Jones played nine seasons with the Celtics while winning eight NBA championships. Jones led the Celtics in assists in the 1964-1965 season and has his number 25 retired. Jones was coach of many college and NBA teams but was best known for being the coach of the Celtics.

4. Bill Fitch 1980-1983

Born May 19, 1934 in Davenport, Iowa. Fitch is best known for turning bad teams into playoff contenders. He coached at Bowling Green and University of North Dakota before he became a coach in the NBA. He was a coach for 25 years and after he made one team into a playoff contender, he left and went to another bad team and made them into a playoff contender. He was the coach of the Boston Celtics in 1981 and led them to an NBA championship over the Rockets.

5. Bill Russell 1967-1969

Said to be the best Celtic in history and is considered by many to be the best NBA player that ever played. Russell won 11 championships in 13 seasons. He was the first black player to be drafted and was best friends with Red. After Red retired, he went on to become a player coach and took the aging Celtics to the Finals and won. Bill went to McClymonds High school in Oakland and was known for being aggressive under the boards. Certainly in the running for being the best player ever, right up there with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Red once said that if he ever had to pick one player on his team that Bill Russell would be the first guy he would choose.

6. Chris Ford 1991-1995

Coached five seasons with the Celtics having a winning record three out of five seasons. In 1990 he led the Celtics to a 56-26 record and they were the top team in the NBA. After he left the Celtics, the team started to fade. He went on and coached the Bucks for two seasons and Clippers for two seasons. His best coaching years were his first three with the Celtics. After his third year of coaching, he has never had a winning team in the NBA.

7. Jim O’Brien 2001-2003

O’Brien was not that bad of a coach but could never stick with the same players. About every six months when he was the coach, somebody on the team was traded and he had to keep changing the lineup. O’Brien did fine with what he had, leading the Celtics into the playoffs, but he eventually got fed up with the trades and the moves the organization was making. He went to Ainge and told him he wanted out at the end of the season. Danny was mad and told Jim to leave now and that they would find somebody else to coach rest of the season.

8. Doc Rivers 2005-current

Doc is the current coach of the Celtics and led them to the playoffs in his first season. He is not very well liked by Celtics fans due to his bad rotations and leading the Celtics to a losing record this season. Was best with the Atlanta Hawks and played many games against the Celtics including a few in the playoffs back when Larry Bird was still playing. Doc is a future Hall of Famer and is said to be good with teaching young talent.

9. Rick Pitino 1998-2001

Was said to have destroyed the Celtics with trading future superstars and not waiting to see what talent they had. He was not a bad coach he was just a bad GM and had to be in charge of the whole Celtics organization. He was rude enough to demand to take Red’s position in the Celtics organization. The reason I have him as 9th best is because he is a good coach but if he was not the GM, the team would have done better. I believe that the Celtics would be in a much better position if he had never come to the Celtics.

10. John Russell 1947-1948

John played at Alexander Hamilton High school in New York from 1915–1919 and was named as a two-year letter winner, but lost junior and senior year eligibility after turning professional. Russell was around before the NBA was created but played and coached for several ABL teams. The only time that Russell was with the NBA was his first year of coaching for the Boston Celtics.

11. Alvin Julian 1949-1950

Alvin was not the best basketball player but played for Reading High School for four seasons. He got a scholarship to play basketball at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA for 1933-35 and earned two letters for basketball. Julian was best known for being a college coach and only coached one pro team, the Boston Celtics which he coached for two seasons.

12. Tom Sanders 1978-1979

Was best known as a great player for the Boston Celtics. He was an outstanding player and is in the Hall of Fame. The Celtics retired his number and it’s hanging in the rafters of the Garden. He was only a coach of the Celtics for one season and did not do well, leading the team to a losing record.

13. M.L. Carr 1996-1997

Born in 1951 in Wallace, NC. Coached four seasons in the ABA with STL and DET and six seasons in the NBA, all with the Boston Celtics. His best time was with the Celtics from 1979–1985 and he did a decent job. He was the coach for the Celtics for one season but did not do a good job and left after the first season.

14. John Carroll 1/2 2004

Was only a coach for a little bit for the Celtics and did horrible, losing seven out of eight games and to make it worse they were at home. He did not come back the next season, for the reason you can see.

15. Dave Cowens 1/2 1978-1979

Played for Newport Central Catholic High school for four years and was two-year letter winner. Went on to play at Florida State for four seasons and won several awards. He is FSU’s all-time leading rebounder. He was drafted by the Celtics and played with them for ten seasons until he went to Milwaukee for two seasons. He was NBA MVP in 1973, but was best at his defensive and rebounding skills. He was a player/coach for half of the 1978-79 season.

By Michael Worley @


Tue 04/18/06, 3:42 am EST

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