Tommy Heinsohn was the greatest advocate in Celtics history, with a career that included but was not limited to Hall of Fame inductions as a player and coach. Those achievements only scratch the surface of an over-sized life that came to an end on Monday.
Heinsohn, after a year of frequent hospitalizations, died at the age of 86 in his longtime Needham home with family by his side. It’s a sprawling ranch-style house with walls of art work — he was a renaissance man of the highest order with a special love for painting New England landscapes — and as many trophies from his 40-plus years as a broadcasting giant as his 18 seasons as a player and coach. He teamed with partner Mike Gorman in 1981 on local Celtics broadcasts, and they went on to become one of the longest-tenured sports broadcasting tandems in history.
He was Boston’s beloved rabble-rouser, with a booming opinion treasured by Celtics fans and reviled just about everywhere else — particularly in officials’ locker rooms across the league.
“A big personality,” one of his greatest players, Dave Cowens, said Tuesday. “You could ask 100 people in Boston and you would get 100 different Tommy stories. He was always a man about town. If you asked him to do something he would do it. He was reliable. Maybe bombastic would be a good word to describe him.”
Now imagine that voice filling a locker room.…