I shared some parts of Tommy Heinsohn's book and in it he talked about being Red's whipping boy. Here is Red's side of it:
Tommy Heinsohn is another guy who never gets the credit he deserves. Everyone thought he was a shooter. They called him "Gunner." Well, it's true. He was a shooter, but that's what I wanted him to be. I told him to shoot. That was his job, and he was damned good at it. But people forget he also could pass, and he was one of the best offensive rebounders of his time. He was one of my "whipping boys." The other was Loscutoff. Whenever I had a point I wanted the whole team to hear, they were the guys I'd yell at. Their hides were thick: they could take it. Other players might have gotten angry or embarrassed. Not these two. In one ear and out the other. I don't think they even heard half the things I said, which was all right with me. It was the rest of the team I was directing the message to. One night we ran up a 25 or 30 point halftime lead. It was no contest. So I walked into our dressing room, as as soon as the door closed behind me, Heinsohn jumped up. "Okay, Red," he said, "I didn't rebound, I didn't block out, I didn't shoot. what else didn't I do?" Everyone started to laugh. Me, too. what could I say? Tommy was tough, tougher than most people realize, because he also happens to be a very warm, outgoing guy, who likes people and has a great sense of humor. I'll always remember the night I asked him to play a special "role." We were up against Philadelphia in the playoffs, which meant having to contend with Wilt. So I devised a play that called for Tommy to stand in Wilt's path whenever he started to chase after Russell. Wilt had to be one of the strongest men in the world, and when he finally caught on to what Tommy was doing, he got madder than hell and ran right up Heinsohn's back a couple of times. But Heinie never budged and never complained. He just stood his ground and continued doing the job all night long. That's why I loved the guy. He also coached us to tow championships in 1974 and 1976, after taking the job when Russell retired.
Here is Red's story about drafting Dave Cowens and his role on the team afterwards.
No one knew much about Cowens, except that, at 6'8.5", he didn't seem to have the size to become a great NBA center. His school, Florida State, was prohibited from playing in the NCAA tournament because of recruiting violations, so that kept him out of the national limelight. ButI'd heard enough abuot him to intrigue me, so I went down to take a look in person, and I couldn't believe my own eyes. In fact, he was so good it scared me. I got up and left in the third quarter, trying my best not to show my excitement, hoping that no one else in the league knew what I learned that night. As soon as I got back to Boston I told Heinsohn, "Tommy, I've found your center." All that remained was sweating out the draft. Lanier went first. Then San Diego took Rudy Tomjanovich, and Atlanta selected Pete Maravich. We had him! Russell went down to Florida to meet him, and when he came back he was as impressed as I had been. "Red," he told me, "You've got a great one there." "What makes you so sure?" I asked him. "You've never even seen him play. "I talked with him," he said, "and I looked into his eyes. Believe me, I know. This kid's going to be something." Cowens became one of the great competitors of all time. He didn't just play the game, he attacked it. I think my favorite Cowens story is the night he fouled Mike Newlin. It's a classic. We were playing Houston, and Dave was sky high, as usual. He set a pick, then turned to face the basket - and Calvin Murphy went sprawling onto the floor. Dave had just nudged him, hell, since Murphy was only 5'9", he probably didn't even see him. It was an act, but they called a foul - and right away you could see the frustration on his face. The next thing you know, Newlin took a dive. Another foul on Cowens. Now Dave was livid. He was a banger, a scrapper, he just wanted to play. This penny ante foolishness was eating him up. I knew something was going to happen, that fire came into his eyes. Play resumes and he starts running downcourt, and then he spots Newlin. Poor Newlin never know what hit him. Dave plowed into him like a freight train, knocking him through the air about 12 feet. Then, without even waiting for Newlin to land, he turned to the officials and in a voice loud enough for the whole crown to hear, he yelled, "Not that's a foul!" That was Cowens. Then one day in November 1976 he came to me, five months after he'd led us to his second championship in three seasons, and told me he was fed up with basketball, exhausted, and just couldn't do it anymore. He wanted to quit. He was 28. "Dave," I told him, "if you don't want to play anymore, there's nothing I can do. That's life." Sure I could have ranted and raved : What about your teammates? What about your fans? What about your obligations to all these people? But I couldn't do that to him. I had too much respect for the guy, and I could see he was emotionally wiped out. If a guy's that unhappy, you can't force him into a better mood. All you'll do is worsen his attitude. He wanted to quit for an indefinite period. If I had pushed him at that moment, maybe he'd have quit for good. Who knows? But that's what was running through my mind. "Keep in touch," I said. "We'll talk. And when you think you're ready to come back, when you've regained your peace of mind, we'll go at 'em again, okay?" That's how we left it. He took quite a beating in some of the papers and on most of the talk shows; there was every little sympathy for his position. People said he was a flake. They insinuated he was selfish and disloyal. They made it sound like he was a soldier going AWOL or a sailor jumping ship. The abuse he took was mean, cutting and undeserved. that was the other reason I made no attempt to argue with him when he told me how he felt. He displayed the highest ethics in that situation that anyone could possibly imagine. He could have been cute about it. He could have said, "My back hurts, I can't play." No one would have criticized that, and he could have continued cashing his pay checks. Believe me, it's been done before. But that's not Cowens. This kid's too principled for that. "Look," he said that day, "I'm not injured. There's nothing wrong with me, so I don't want to be paid. I just don't feel like playing anymore. How could I argue with that? He came back later that season after missing 30 games and spent the next three years with us. They included the two worst years of my entire association with the Celtics, 1977-78, and 1978-79, a horrible period of ownership problems and personnel turnovers in which we lost 103 games. Havlicek retired in the middle of that stretch, and for awhile Dave tried his hand as a player-coach. We didn't see daylight again until the spring of 1979, when the ownership mess was finally resolved and Larry Bird was on his way. Cowens and Bird - What a pair they'd have made when Dave was in his prime - had one season together, then Dave called it quits. Now it was physical injuries that were bogging him down. He ws 32, and his body just couldn't take the beating it was getting every game. He walked onto the team bus in the middle of training camp, 1980, and told his teammates goodby. Seven months later, we were champions again. I wish he could have shared in that.