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Red Auerbach – The Pioneer of Modern Basketball
 
Arnold Jacob Auerbach was one of the four children of Marie and Hyman Auerbach. Hyman was a Russian Jewish immigrant from Minsk, Belarus, and Marie Auerbach, née Thompson, was American-born. Auerbach Sr. had left Belarus when he was 13.
 
He had a brother, Zang Auerbach, four years his junior, who was a popular cartoonist and portraitist at the Washington Star. 
 
Nicknamed "Red" for his temper and the color of his hair, he was a spirited, talented basketball player, a star of his PS 122, where his career began. Later he received athletic scholarship to the basketball program of Bill Reinhart at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After graduating in 1941, he enlisted to the U.S. Navy and spent three years at Norfolk, training the Navy basketball team. It was with this team that he won his first matches, including a record-setting 17-win streak in BAA, the precursor of NBA.
 
He married Dorothy Lewis in the spring of 1941. The couple had two daughters, Nancy and Randy.
 
Very soon Auerbach became not simply a successful coach, a pioneer of fast breaks and a virtuoso of tactics, but a true celebrity of the world of sports. 
 
He, for example, made his victory cigars a cult in the 1960s, when coaching in Boston, so that local restaurants would sometimes post a sign in their premised, saying "no cigar or pipe smoking, except for Red Auerbach".
 
His love for Chinese fast food was another legend. Once he explained that in the 50s NBA players could not afford the luxury of traveling by private jets or even charters, and had to take regular flights and dine wherever convenient or possible. Eating regular, much heavier, food meant a risk of travel-sickness, so he and his players would choose Chinese takeout food. Later it became his favorite cuisine, and he even owned a Chinese fast food restaurant.
 
Auerbach was the author of seven books. His first, Basketball for the Player, the Fan and Coach, has been translated into seven languages and is the best-selling basketball book in print.
 
Despite his short temper, he was very popular among his players: on his 75th birthday, 45 (!) of his ex players (including those who were the targets of his criticism) came to visit him! 
 
Auerbach died of a heart attack at the age of 89.
 
Sources:
Red Auerbach biography". JockBio.com. July 10, 2007
Shouler, Ken. "The Consummate Coach". ESPN.com
 
 

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