August 10, 2007
How the great Celtics teams won: by Keeping It Simple

For those of you not up on your basketball lore, the (newly reborn, triple-threat) Boston Celtics won something like eleventeen championships under Red Auerbach, as coach then as team-building GM. Auerbach died last year at a still-feisty 89.Boston Celtics logo

Bob Cousy was a central figure in the first six of those titles, teaming up with Bill Russell. Cousy was a 13-time All-Star, named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in '96, and the original ball-handling wizard throwing jaw-dropping passes with his x-ray court vision.

In one of his books, he talked about how much Red Auerbach's pragmatic management style contributed to their success.

"Red wasn't worried about X's and O's. He seldom is. His approach is to go to the heart of the problem and try to solve it.

"Auerbach continued to demonstrate that he knows how to win with the least amount of wasted motion in the most pragmatic way. He could appraise talent, he could motivate players, and he was an excellent bench coach.

"His was a glorified seat-of-the-pants approach. Once he got the players, Red exercised little direction other than gearing some plays to match individual talents.

"With Red it was, what does it take to win? Find the talent, get them in shape, keep them motivated, and don't get fancy. That's basically what we did."

- From Cousy on the Celtic Mystique, by Bob Cousy and Bob Ryan, 1988.


Anything that Auerbach said more than once is a permanent, glorified part of the Celtics Legend, so it's often repeated what he'd say to the players the comparatively few times they came back to the bench in disarray: "Let's keep it simple, fellas."

Posted by at August 10, 2007 02:21 PM

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