Red Auerbach was a master gamesmanship
The late great NBA legend Red Auerbach was the first great coach in league history that was able to create a dynasty with the Boston Celtics. Red was a very peculiar individual and a great mind that did everything in his power to make the Boston Celtics a powerhouse and get the maximum of all the players he coached. He established a system in which every player knew their role, and the Celtics really played like a team, and all of them flourished in that environment.
In his book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, Phil Jackson remembers the time when he was the player for the New York Knicks, and they played against the Celtics in the playoffs. He describes Auerbach as true gamesmanship because of the numerous ploys he used not related to the actual strategy around his team.
"Auerbach was a master of gamesmanship. One of his trademark ploys was to light a cigar when he thought his team had won the game, which infuriated his opponents, especially when the score was still close."
His tactics backfired against the Knicks
Jackson will never forget that specific playoff series because of Auerbach's uncanny tricks to make their lives as hard as possible when they played in Boston. Red understood better than anyone he needs to impact the opposing team's performance in the best way he can that is not even related to actually playing basketball.
"But Auerbach outdid himself in the 1973 playoffs, and it ultimately backfired on him. We met the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals after beating Baltimore 4–1 in the first round. Boston had the home-court advantage in the series, and Auerbach took full advantage of it. Whenever we played in Boston, Auerbach made our lives miserable: He'd put us in locker rooms where the keys didn't work, the towels were missing, and the heat was set at over one hundred degrees, and we couldn't open the windows."
Even though his strategy might have worked out against other teams, it only served as a source of motivation for the Knicks to get back the Celtics even more. Red's plan backfired, and the Knicks did the unthinkable, beating the Celtics in game 7 in their own arena, which didn't happen at all when Auerbach was the head coach.
"For this series, he put us in a different locker room for every game, and the last one—for game 7—was a cramped janitor's closet with no lockers and a ceiling so low many of us had to stoop to get dressed. Rather than demoralize us, as Auerbach no doubt expected, the locker-room gambit made us so angry it galvanized us even more."
The Knicks would win the NBA championships that year, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. That Knicks squad Jackson was a part of in many ways shaped him and the way he coached in the later years, emphasizing team-oriented basketball. Auerbach's tactics didn't work in that specific series when Jackson was a player but all the championships he won put him in the same position as Jackson as one of the best coaches in NBA history. Some would argue Auerbach was the most successful coach ever, while others would say 11 championships won with two different teams make the Zen Master the most accomplished coach in NBA history.