Red Auerbach vs. Phil Jackson: Why Red Will Always Be Greater

Jay KingCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

In a week or so, Phil Jackson may break Red Auerbach’s long-standing record of most championship teams coached. 

As a die-hard Celtics fan, I am appalled that Red’s record will soon be gone. I continue to hope the Magic will pull the series out, so Red will never have to cede his record, especially to Phil Jackson.

In Red’s honor, this article is a tribute to a man who transcended coaching by becoming the face of the Celtics organization.

In one of my favorite movies from my childhood, The Sandlot, they say, “Heroes are remembered, but legends never die.”

Well, Red did die, but his spirit, legacy, and achievements live on. 

He remains the face of the Boston Celtics organization and is known for being an incredible winner and terrific coach by all true NBA fans, young and old. Red dedicated his career to the Boston Celtics, maintaining ties to the organization long after he stopped coaching them. 

Red is a Boston Celtics mainstay and his legacy extends far beyond just his coaching.  His incredible loyalty to the organization, spending 57 years dedicated to improving the Celtics and raising championship banners in Boston, should be valued at least as much as his nine championships. 

Even if Phil Jackson wins his 10th championship this year or any other year, he will never compare to the great Red Auerbach.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Here are a few head-to-head comparisons explaining why:

Phil Jackson decided to be a coach while on an LSD trip. Seriously. He writes about it in his book Sacred Hoops.

Red Auerbach decided to be a coach while serving a stint in the U.S. Navy, where he coached the Navy’s basketball team for three years.

Phil Jackson bashed one of his superstars, Kobe Bryant, in his book The Last Season.  Showing no loyalty to his players whatsoever, Jackson displayed no remorse in desecrating Kobe’s legacy in order to keep his book on the bestseller’s lists.

Red Auerbach’s best player ever, Bill Russell, wrote a book about Red Auerbach titled Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend. In the book he describes his incredible relationship with Red, which lasted long after his playing career was over.

Phil Jackson inherited the Chicago Bulls team he won six championships with, and again the Lakers team where he has won three championships thus far. 

He had no part in assembling the rosters, leaving that job for the GMs.

A large part of Red Auerbach’s genius was the way he assembled the Celtics’ roster in order to win as many championships as they did. 

He orchestrated trades or drafted every notable player the Celtics had during their championship years through 1984. His trades include swindling the draft rights to Bill Russell in exchange for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan and acquiring Robert Parish and the draft rights to Kevin McHale for the draft rights to Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown.

Phil Jackson won six championships with the Bulls, but then was run out of town by Jerry Krause. Krause complained that Jackson had an incredible ego that did now allow him to get along with any of his coaches and many of his players. 

Later, after winning three championships with the Lakers, Phil Jackson was once again run out of town, this time by Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ owner. 

Red Auerbach stopped coaching immediately after his ninth championship on his own terms. As soon as he stopped coaching, he was hired as the Celtics’ general manager, a position he held from 1967-1984. 

He then stayed in the Celtics organization, operating as the President and Vice Chairman from 1984 until his death in 2006. 

Besides his nine championships as a coach, Auerbach won five more as a GM and another two as the Boston Celtics President. 

By my count, that’s 16 titles for Red. 

Good luck catching that record, Phil.

Visit this article and much more at Celtics Town.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.