By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on September 1, 2014
There have been a total of 17 coaches in the 68-year history of the Celtics franchise. However, only six were part of the 17 banners that have been raised to the rafters. In determining the top five coaches in Celtics history, one of the most successful coaches in team history (Doc Rivers) just missed the cut. So who are the five greatest coaches in Celtics history?
After legendary coach Red Auerbach stepped down, he handed the position over to his star player in Bill Russell. Russell became the first African-American coach in the history of pro sports. While serving as player-coach, Russell led the Celtics to two more championships. The former Celtics legend only coached for three seasons, but won multiple titles.
A strong argument can be made between Rivers and Bill Fitch, but Fitch's track record with the Celtics warrants his selection. In his four seasons with Boston, Fitch's teams won 56 or more games every year, and reached the Eastern Conference Finals three times. Fitch won his only title in 1981 coaching the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Nate "Tiny" Archibald.
Coach Tom Heinsohn arrived in 1970 with the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the Celtics dynasty. Heinsohn helped bridge the dynasty of the 1960s to the Larry Bird era of the 1980s seamlessly. With no head coaching experience, He quickly built a powerhouse that added to the Celtics' championship mystique. Heinsohn won two titles in Boston with players like Jo Jo White, John Havlicek and Dave Cowens.
K.C. Jones was a legend long before assuming head coach responsibilities for the Celtics. He was a key reserve for Boston on eight consecutive championship teams. In his five seasons in command, Jones led the Celtics to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning twice, and led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals five times. Jones coached Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish in their primes.
Not only is Red Auerbach the greatest coach in Celtics history, he is the greatest coach in NBA history. Upon coming to Boston at the start of the 1951 season, the Celtics had never finished above .500. In his 16 seasons in Boston, the Celtics made the playoffs each season. Auerbach also built the greatest dynasty in sports history, winning nine NBA championships, including eight in a row from 1959-66.
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