Celtics

‘The legend of Tommy Heinsohn lives on’: NBC Sports Boston honors late Celtics legend during broadcast

"I learned something every day I was with him," said Mike Gorman.

NBC Sports Boston honored late Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn on Tuesday. AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

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NBC Sports Boston honored late Boston Celtics player, coach, and broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn on Tuesday as the Celtics opened their preseason against the Philadelphia 76ers.

NBC reporters and hosts wore pins with Heinsohn’s jersey number, 15, and announcer Brian Scalabrine gave out a “Tommy Award” to rookie guard Payton Pritchard after the game.

“The legend of Tommy Heinsohn lives on,” NBC host Abby Chin said, introducing the segment.

Heinsohn, who is enshrined twice in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as both a player and a coach, died on Nov. 9. He won eight championships as a player and two as a coach before joining the broadcast booth in 1981, where he and Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman called games until the final season before Heinsohn’s death.

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The network had Heinsohn hand out a nightly “Tommy Award” to a player who goes “above and beyond the call of duty, risking life and limb,” according to NBC’s website.

“I think this is a safe bet,” Chin said, when Scalabrine announced Pritchard was his pick.

“Payton Pritchard is a Tommy kind of guy, right?” NBC reporter Chris Forsberg added. “Scrappy, wants to be out there on the floor, doing everything possible to affect the game.”

The network also played a clip of Heinsohn describing a game against Wilt Chamberlain and the Sixers in which he stifled the rowdy Philadelphia fan base with a buzzer-beating shot.

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“That was my biggest moment in my Celtics career because I shut up 11,000 Philly fans,” Heinsohn said in the video.

“A lot of Tommy’s great memories were putting down somebody on the other team, making it count,” Gorman said, chuckling.

Both Gorman and Scalabrine said Heinsohn’s story-telling will be missed greatly. Scalabrine said he enjoyed pre-game meals with Heinsohn and trying to “poke the bear.” Gorman agreed that when games go back to normal, his pre-game meals won’t be the same without his long-time broadcast partner.

“I learned something every day I was with him,” Gorman said.

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