Tribute to Red Auerback & Black Basketball

Updated: October 31, 2006



The newspapers have been filled

with tributes to Red Auerback

who died last week

our Black Tribute is

likewise in order

Red Auerback is widely acknowledged as having played a large role in advancing African Americans in professional basketball. Let’s cut right to the Chase. Red Auerback chose Chuck Cooper who became the FIRST African American ever drafted by the NBA. Auerback was the FIRST NBA Coach ever to field 5 Black Starters. Auerback hired the FIRST African American NBA head coach Bill Russell for his Boston Celtics upon his own retirement.

Auerback is a Towering Figure in the history of the NBA. Winning the League Championship 9 of 10 years in a row while coaching the Celtics, beginning in 1950 when the NBA was close to nothing and largely invisible to American sports fans. And that very year in 1950 he drafted Chuck Cooper the FIRST African American ever drafted to play in he NBA.

From that point on Auerback drafted and traded for more Black players until he became the FIRST NBA coach to ever start 5 African Americans. Then in 1956 upon his retirement as coach to become general manager of the Celtics he named Bill Russell the FIRST African American head coach and in a city well known for its anti-Black sentiments in many quarters of the city.

The tributes have poured in from everywhere to honor Red Auerback, He has received longer obituaries in the major media than maybe any sports figure has, certainly any basketball coach. He was long ago named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and is acclaimed the Greatest Coach in Basketball History.

Auerback died at 89 on Saturday in his beloved Boston having lived a very full and robust life. He was easily agitated, indulged his love of cigars and food and was considered stocky but none of that kept him from living a very long and largely healthy life until the very end.

If the NBA had early

been filled with others

like Red Auerback

full integration for

Basketball would

have happened

long before

it did now

May he rest in Peace

His Job Well Done

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