Former Boston Celtics star Bob Cousy calls him "Arnold." But most diehard basketball fans know him as "Red." Hanging from the rafters of the Boston Garden are 16 green-and-white championship banners, testimony to his managerial genius.
He is Arnold "Red" Auerbach--inspiration and leader of the most successful sports franchise in America. For 36 years, as coach, general manager, and now president of the Boston Celtics, Mr. Auerbach has practiced his style of management in an enterprise in which the difference between winning and losing is very clear and very public. His management philosophy, based on the values of loyalty, pride, teamwork, and discipline, is applicable to managers in any field. And the results he has attained--measured in athletic and economic terms, or even just in the number of victory cigars he has savored--demonstrate his ability to make this philosophy work.
Mr. Auerbach is the author of On and Off the Court (Macmillan, 1985), written with Joe Fitzgerald. This interview was conducted in his Boston office by Alan M. Webber, managing editor at HBR.
HBR: When you started here in 1950, there was no such thing as "Celtics pride."
HBR: Thirty-six years later, everybody talks about it. It's at the heart of the Celtics' mystique. What is it?
AUERBACH: It's the whole idea of caring. I'm still in contact with the Frank Ramseys and Ed McCauleys and Bones McKinneys who played for me 35 years ago. I know where they are, what they do. If they want something, they call me and if I want something, I call them.
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