When searching for the commercials for this post I came across this commercial and felt that it needed its own post. In the early days when Red was coaching the team to 8 consecutive championships, his responsibilities were far more than watching film and making a game plan. In those days, the coach was also the GM, the equipment manager, the person who made hotel reservations, and the chauffeur. And, in those days they didn't have assistant coaches for defense, big men, practice, etc. Coaches these days have it pretty easy with assistants to perform all the different tasks that Red was responsible for.
The commercial above is amazing for a couple of reasons. First of all, look who is in this commercial. Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, Don Nelson, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones. That's a whole wing of the Hall of Fame right there. And there they are sitting at a table drinking Miller Light. Second, these boys have some manners! Red taught them well. Makes me long for simpler days. In my tribute to Tommy Heinsohn on his birthday, I shared a story from Tommy's book Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile?. I think another story is in order to go with this post.
After the Jump, I share a story about Red from Tommy's fantastic book from the days when Red was in charge of doing everything for the team, including driving to the games. If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it.
In all honesty the amazing thing about the Celtics was the team pride Auerbach developed. I don't know how he did it because Red could be harsh and abrasive in his own way, but General MacArthur didn't create more determination and togetherness when he promised that he and his troops would return. I think the Celtics respected Auerbach because he was the Celtics and they sincerely believed he knew what he was doing.
Except, of course, when he was driving. Red was Evel Knievel before his time. If Red could have jumped a car over the Grand Canyon he would have done it without thinking - which was the way he drove. His reputation preceded him to the point where everyone suggested he had another ride whenever Red extended an invitation.
Gene Conley made the mistake of joining the coach one time when we were on an exhibition tour before the season. Generally, the rookies were the only ones who would ride with Red because they were in no position to turn him down. We all knew when we were going to exhibition games, never to get into a car with Auerbach.
We probably should have had the right of refusal written into our contracts, but we never thought of it. The Players' Association was not that strong in those days anyway. Conley had been away for five years working his pitching skilles and had absolutely no power position when he returned to the Celtics in 1958-59.
We headed for Maine for our first exhibition game. If you've ever gone up the Maine Turnpike in October, you know how foggy it can get. The fog rolled in from the ocean and blanketed the meadows and the road. There was nothing a normal person could do but be extremely cautious.
Red, not being a normal person behind the wheel, was not bothered by such conservative practices as driving carefully. He proceeded to go eighty five miles an hour through the velvet curtain. Conley froze in his seat. "The man's crazy," he said to the only person in the car to whom he had the courage to say it - himself.
It was as though Red was trying to qualify at Indianapolis. His only guide was the white divider in the middle of the road, and he followed it without deviation. In his mind, the line represented radar and, therefore, he was not driving blind.
Conley was. He was afraid to open his eyes. Once in a while he peeked out of fear but saw nothing. He even found it tough seeing the white line that Red was using as a steering beam.
There was one thing Gene managed to see for a fleeting moment. A Howard Johnson building zipped by extremely close on his side. Auerbach never blinked. He was following the white line and never noticed he had just driven through the Howard Johnson's parking lot and out the other side.