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Ainge has mild heart attack

He's expected to make full recovery

DANNY AINGEClogged artery DANNY AINGEClogged artery
By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / April 17, 2009
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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had a mild heart attack yesterday and underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ainge will miss the team's playoff opener against the Chicago Bulls tomorrow afternoon but is expected to make a full recovery.

Ainge, 50, missed the Celtics' 115-107 victory over Washington in the regular-season finale Wednesday night at TD Banknorth Garden. He awoke yesterday with chest pains and was admitted to the hospital. Ainge had a clogged artery relieved by a stent, according to a report on Channel 5.

"It's a tough day," Celtics managing general partner Stephen Pagliuca said. "[Ainge is] coming along well. He got to the hospital quickly and they took care of it. He's recovering nicely.

"I saw him at about 3:30 p.m. I spoke to him and he was already joking about recovering, and Eddie House breaking his record putting him over the top. He was in good spirits. He was with his wife, Michelle, at the hospital. He was in good spirits.

"We're very grateful that Danny is progressing," Pagliuca added. "He will bounce back quickly. Danny is a warrior. I'm just very glad he's OK and he's in great care. We hope to see him back soon because he's a big part of Celtics Nation."

The Celtics issued a statement yesterday: "[Ainge] is recovering nicely and is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days."

Celtics guard Ray Allen wrote in a text message, "Our hearts go out to him and his family. We all wish him a speedy recovery."

Ainge played 14 seasons in the NBA, performing for the Celtics from the 1981-82 season to just past the midway point of the 1988-89 season, when he was traded to Sacramento.

Ainge was a starter for the Celtics' 1984 and '86 championship teams and set a team 3-point percentage record of .443 in 1986-87. House broke the record by going 6 for 9 in Wednesday's regular-season finale for a .444 mark.

After playing in two more NBA Finals, with Portland in 1991-92 and with Phoenix in 1992-93, Ainge was hired as an assistant coach with the Suns, then was promoted to head coach eight games into the 1996-97 season. Ainge had a 136-90 record as a head coach, then became an NBA commentator for TNT in 1999. He was named general manager of the Celtics May 9, 2003.

Last season, Ainge's acquisitions of Allen and Kevin Garnett helped spark the Celtics to their 17th championship. He was named the NBA's executive of the year.

Marc J. Spears of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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