Throughout 1956-1965, Heinsohn played nine seasons for the Celtics. He was a six-time All-Star who led them to eight championships.
Tommy then coached the Celtics from 1969 to 1978. He earned NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1973 and guided Boston to two titles in 1974, 1976. Heinsohn will down in history as one of the league’s most distinguished figures, who helped add a whopping 10 championship banners to such a storied-franchise.
He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and was enshrined a second time in 2015 as a coach. Heinsohn’s No. 15 hangs in the rafters at TD Garden.
Tommy Heinsohn: Celtics Broadcasting Career
However, for the younger generation that came decades later, Heinsohn became the voice synonymous with Celtics games and his biased opinions against controversial calls that all diehard Boston fans could relate with. In the 1980s, Heinsohn joined CBS’s playoff coverage of the NBA Finals from 1984 to 1987 and has been alongside Mike Gorman since 1981.
For years over 30 years, Tommy provided the color analysis while Gorman did the play-by-play for each and every Celtics game. Heinsohn’s abrasive approach instantly made him a fan favorite and it also gained popularity around the league.
Every once in awhile, Tommy’s outbursts would make ESPN’s SportsCenter or during a national broadcast of a Celtics game, you would often see Heinsohn get a shout-out from the commentators – you didn’t have to be from Boston to know Tommy. And around these parts, catchphrases like “I-LOVE-WALTER!” and “Bing-Bang-Boom Barros!” were two of his go-to calls in the mid-to-late 90s for big plays made by small forward Walter McCarty and point guard Dana Barros.
But later in his career, his Tommy Points became a stable of the broadcast. By the mid-2000s, Heinsohn was awarding one player “The Tommy Award” for each and every game. Instead of honoring the game’s best player, it was an accolade given to the player who Tommy believed put forth the greatest effort of the night.
Gorman released the following statement via Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
“Roughly 2,800 times I sat down with Tommy to broadcast a game. Every time it was special,” Gorman wrote. “HOF player… HOF coach… HOF partner. Celtics Nations has lost its finest voice. Rest In Peace, my friend. It has been a privilege of my professional life to be the Mike in Mike & Tommy”
Boston Celtics’ Address Tommy Heinsohn’s Passing
His career as an NBA player, coach, and commentator is forever cemented into basketball royalty as one of the greatest. The Celtics released, in part, the following statement:
“We take this time to celebrate Tommy Heinsohn’s life and legacy, and to share in the sorrow of his passing with his family, friends, and fans,” it read. “As long as there are the Boston Celtics, Tommy’s spirit will remain alive.”