Red passes; KC Jones coach, Hudson, Rozier, Mickey, R. Morgan, Cook player debuts; Nelson signed

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On this day in Boston Celtics history, legendary Celtics team president and coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach passed away at the age of 89 in 2006. Auerbach assembled a career in basketball unparalleled in its time and to this day, winning nine titles with the team as a coach, and seven more as an executive.

He joined the franchise in 1950 after stints coaching the Washington Capitols (now defunct) in the Basketball Association of America (BAA – a precursor league to the NBA) and at the NCAA level as an assistant coach with the Duke Blue Devils before joining the Celtics.

Red — as he was often called — transformed the game with his emphasis on the fast break and team-focused play reliant on ball movement at all positions.

Red Auerbach

Red Auerbach

Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

His willingness to draft and play Black players in the midst of the Jim Crow era of U.S. politics was also transformative.

He drafted the first Black player in the NBA draft, Chuck Cooper, and fielded the first all-Black starting five in league history.

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Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

Auerbach stepped down as head coach in 1966, naming player Bill Russell as the first Black head coach in modern North American sports history as he moved to the front office for the rest of his career.

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He officially stepped down as general manager in 1984 but remained an integral part of the organization until his passing in 2006.

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It is also the date of former Boston guard Terry Rozier’s debut for the team, a 112-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rozier hardly saw the floor, playing just under two minutes, in which he produced a single rebound and missed both of his free-throw attempts.

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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Former Celtics forward Jordan Mickey debuted in that same game and didn’t fare much better.

Playing identical minutes to Rozier, the former LSU player logged 2 points, 2 boards, and an assist with a personal foul in his first NBA contest.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is also Lester Hudson’s debut anniversary with the Celtics in 2009. The Memphis native played his first minutes as a Celtic in a 92-59 shellacking of the (then) Charlotte Bobcats (now, Hornets).

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Hudson had a modest debut, putting up a rebound, an assist and a steal in about 9:30 of floor time.

In a 126-89 obliteration of the Celtics by the New York Knicks, wing Rex Morgan debuted for Boston in 1970.

The former Jacksonville University player had a solid first game, recording 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists across a dozen minutes.

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Forward Norm Cook played his first game on this date as well, a 112-105 win over the (then) Buffalo Braves (now, Celtics — it’s a long story) in 1976 at the Garden.

It was a pretty short run for the former Kansas player, who had just enough time to log a personal foul in 2 minutes of play.

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AP Photo/C.J. Gunther

Celtics legend K.C. Jones coached his first game at Boston’s helm, and it didn’t exactly presage the pair of titles he later won.

It came in a 127-121 loss to the Detroit Pistons on the road. Forward Kevin McHale led the team in scoring off the bench with 25 points and 15 rebounds.

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Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

In 1965, Celtics legend Don Nelson signed with the team as a free agent after stints playing for the (now defunct) Chicago Zephyrs and Los Angeles Lakers.

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Nelson played 11 seasons with Boston, winning five titles with the Celtics between 1966 and 1976.

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Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Today is also the anniversary of the trade that sent big man Tony Massenburg to the (then) Vancouver (now, Memphis) Grizzlies.

The former Maryland player was exchanged for forward Roy Rogers before playing a game with the team in this stint (he had previously played 7 games for the team in the 1991-92 season).

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DAVID MAXWELL/AFP via Getty Images

Finally, it is also the birthday of former Boston point guard Michael Hawkins, born this day in 1972 in Canton, Ohio.

Hawkins played his college ball with the Xavier Musketeers and was signed by the Celtics as a free agent on 10-day contracts in 1997 that he would stretch into 29 games with the team on a rest-of-season deal.

Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3F9DvjQ

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire

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