This article is from February 7, 1956 when Red Auerbach spoke at the Keith Academy Men's Club speaking on a wide range of topics about basketball. It was originally written by Gil Wood in the Lowell Sun on 2/7/56.
Little Man Isn't Dead In Basketball Says Auerbach
Celtics coach speaks at meeting at Keith Academy Men's Club-Says NBA Is Tough
Lowell-The little man is not dead in basketball. In fact he is getting more and more important.
This is the opinion of Arnold "Red" Auerbach, controversial coach of the Boston Celtics who spoke before a gathering of close to 100 members of the Keith Academy Men's Club last night at the Keith auditorium.
"Those big men are eventually going to counteract each other." Auerbach explained during his interesting and informative hour and one-half talk. There's little to choos among them when they face each other. The class of pro, college, or high school ball is going to be the little-or backcourt-guy. He's the boy that holds the big players together out there."
Auerbach, the only coach to last out the stormy 10 year history of the NBA, admitted that he has a reputation as a "referee baiter." Smiling, he reflected "And I can't afford it. I pay every single one of those fines (he may have another one coming up) myself. I guess my reputation got its start when I broke in as coach of the Washington Caps in 1946 and I haven't been able to live it down," he said.
Serious About Quitting?
It was more in the manner in which he said rather than what he said, but some of his listeners gleaned from his remarks that he is serious about quitting the Celtics at the end of this campaign.
Speaking of Joe Lapchick's firing by the Knickerbockers, "Red" implied that fans shouldn't feel too sorry for Joe. "The NBA is tough", Auerbach grimly told his listeners. "Take our club for instance. We've played 28 games in the last 35 days, 20 of them on the road. It's a mixed up kind of living, eating on the run at odd hours of the day and trying to sleep in the air or on rails most of the time.
Reports have indicated that Auerbach is interested in an offer of a coaching berth with a good-sized southern college. He hasn't actually denied the rumors and off his remarks here last night It sounds as though he's fed up with the rigorous life of coaching in the NBA.
"Red" spoke only sparingly of "Mr. Basketball" Bob Cousy. In fact, Bill Sharman appears to be his fair-haired boy. He repeatedly spoke in glowing terms of his backcourt star who can adjust himself to any type of play or position. Stressing the importance of practice and working on individual skills, Auerbach said "take Sharman as an example. Six years he couldn't blow his nose left-handed. Now he's almost as good a lefty shooter as he is right-handed. That all came through constant practice."
After relating some of the pleasantly surprising developments on his team, such as the first-year performances of Hemric and Loscutoff, the amazing comeback of Jack Nichols, and the acquisition of Arnie Risen, "Red" smilingly remarked that, "I did expect the devil from the press and fans over Togo Palazzi, the former Holy Cross star. "You have to expect this in the pro business."
The speaker then went on to explain why it's impossible for him to use Palazzi more than he does. "There's only 96 minutes of playing time in the backcourt during each game," Auerbach pointed out. "I gotta play Sharman and Cousy around 76 minutes because they can go that long. That leaves only 18 minutes for the other backcourt men, and furthermore, Togo hasn't been to adjust himself properly to backcourt duty."
He also spoke of another Holy Cross star, Tom Heinsohn, in answer to a query after his talk was completed. "I've never seen Heinsohn play a good game, although I've only seen him twice. I've also heard about his personality, I don't have time for that stuff. He's got all the equipment, I guess, but if he can't take orders than I'm not at all interested."
Going further into this subject of college stars, the speaker emphatically declared, "I get sick of hearing of small college coaches and some fans, telling me how great their respective stars are. I brought five of them to camp last fall and none of them made the squad and each had averaged anywhere from 25 to 28 points a game in school. It's a rarity when they have the goods to make the grade in the rugged NBA."
The speaker was introduced by Weldon Haire of Chelmsford Center, public address announcer at Celtics home games. Norbert McCartin, president of the Keith Academy Men's Club was in charge of the meeting.