Red Auerbach: Making Sense of the Symbolism Surrounding the Legendary Coach

Brian HutchisonCorrespondent IJune 7, 2009

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate Phil Jackson on his run to win his 10th championship as a head coach. Phil is about to erase the name of Red Auerbach from the record books for breaking his record for most NBA championships by a head coach. Just remember—records are meant to be broken, but legends can never die.

The color red symbolizes energy, strength, power, and love. These words also symbolize Red Auerbach as a person and what he brought to the game of basketball.

In Red's first season coaching the Boston Celtics, he brought with him a new style of play that had never been seen before in the NBA. Fans were witnessing what we now call a fast break offense.

Opposing teams have never seen anything like this before and were not used to the constant running up and down the court. Energy is the key factor in running a successful fast break offense and Red made sure his team was always very conditioned.

Red is also credited for helping break the color barrier in the NBA by drafting Chuck Cooper in the 1950-51 draft. Chuck Cooper was the first black player to be drafted into the NBA. Red had to have possessed a lot of strength by going against the norms and drafting a player who he thought would best fit his team, despite his African-American roots.

Red was a very powerful man in the NBA and put his power to very good use. Moments before the 1956 draft it is reported that Red sat down with the Hawks head coach and persuaded him into swapping their first round picks, which he used to draft William "Bill" Russell.

Just as a sidenote—Red also drafted Tommy Heinsohn and K.C. Jones in that same draft. All of which are now currently in the hall of fame.

Red not only had a love for the Boston Celtics, but a love for the game of basketball. He loved to watch college basketball and could possibly be the most talented recruiter in the history of the game.

He had the final decision on drafting players such as Bill Sharman, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, and Larry Bird.

Red even drafted Bird a year before he was eligible to play just to make sure he would be a Celtic.

According to, the color red also signifies the color of the sun: a symbol of energy, radiating its vitalizing life-force into human beings.

I believe Red Auerbach is like the "Sun" of basketball. He revolutionized the game. He gave a definition to the word "Dynasty." He made people want to watch and follow the NBA. His knowledge, tactics, and accomplishments have been radiating through every single player, coach, manager, president, and fan since his arrival to the league.

He has passed on his wisdom, wit, and energy and shined his light on the rest of the basketball world to keep it alive.


R.I.P., Arnold Jacob "Red" Auerbach, 1917-2007

"You will always be remembered for giving the basketball world a light"