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Robert Parish on what makes Red Auerbach different: “He never sugarcoats it”

Red Auerbach

Red Auerbach was an all-time great coach and team executive whose achievements probably would not get surpassed for a long time. He won a total of 16 NBA titles, all with the Boston Celtics. Former player Robert Parish shares an insight that made Auberbach different from other coaches.

“Auerbach never sugarcoats”

In an interview with BA History & Legends on CLNS Hall of Famer, Robert Parish, who suited up for the Boston Celtics for 14 seasons, shared some tidbits on how Red coached the team during their time. Parish is someone who knows what he is talking about after winning four titles with Auerbach. For the center claims, the great coach will tell players everything he wanted to say and specify what type of execution he wants from them on the court. 

“He always told you what he wanted. He didn’t never sugarcoat it. If he wasn’t sh*t or you played like sh*t tonight, he told you that’s why we lost.”

Robert Parish, via NBA History & Legends on CLNS

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Not only did this trick proved to be successful as a coach but Red went on to become an NBA Executive of the Year in 1980. His achievements were so outstanding that the Coach of the Year award was named after him. When one talks about the greatest to ever coach in the NBA, his name would be up there, ahead of Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Don Nelson, and Lenny Wilkens.

What separates Red Auerbach from the rest

Back then, the coach was the one whose voice was the sole authority of the team. Red’s coaching style demanded accountability, and players responded, and it showed. The Celtics team under him played as a tight unit. The players knew their specific roles and sacrificed personal goals for the team to win. Just ask Tom “Satch” Sanders, who was previously a scorer in college but became a rebounder and defensive player in Boston. 

In Auerbach’s era, the coach was viewed as an authority. Now, coaches are under the power of their star players. When a star player does not like to play, the coach will rest him, or if the player requests a trade, the management has no choice but to oblige. These scenarios would have been impossible under Red Auerbach’s watch. As Parish mentioned, the coach’s focus was on the greater good of the team, which is to get the win at the end of each game. 

Today, the coaches in the NBA have a very short life span. In three seasons, when things don’t improve, the coach would get the pink slip. After all, it’s always easier to blame the coaching staff rather than hurt the star player’s feelings that could trigger a trade request or refusal to sign an extension. 

If coaches wanted to prolong their careers, they must use the blueprint by Red Auerbach. Just tell everything as it is. 


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