It’s rare that the death of a sports legend can be among not only the top sports stories of the year, but the top news stories as well.

We have that in the passing of Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach, who died in October at the age of 89, leaving behind a legacy never to be matched in not just the NBA, but sporting history.

The last Boston sports figure of this magnitude to pass away was Ted Williams in 2002. That was likely trumped as the year’s biggest story by a certain kick down in New Orleans. In 2006 though, no story was bigger than the passing of a Boston institution, the architect of a game and a franchise that re-pays him with the Celtics dancers he was so adamantly against.
The final days of October and the beginning of November were dedicated to Auerbach, as the tributes came from every corner of America. There will never be another like him, and for that, he gets top honor in 2006.
In other news…

  • We discover that Terrell Owens will publish a children’s book entitled, “Little T Learns to Share,” and everyone looks for the punch line. The book is currently No. 31,641 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. I guess that will do.
  • BC kicker Steve Aponavicius hits the Heights with a feel-good story, resulting in all the “Rudy” references you can handle in one week. Which isn’t many.
  • San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami’s gives his take on Fox’s postseason baseball announcers in one of our favorite rants of the year:

    But this was beyond juvenile. I would provide more details if I could’ve brought myself to write down what they were saying, but I’m not paid that much.
    That bit about trying to be kissed at 16 because a couple players signed contracts at 16? You know Lyons sat in his hotel room last night giggling, thinking this was the perfect “spontaneous” line that would get things rollicking, he just had to find the right spot.
    He didn’t. He threw out the line. He tried going and going and going with it. Brennaman acted like it was the “Soup Nazi” bit from Seinfeld or something. Like it was a classic. Poor Lou Piniella acted like he’d rather be getting yelled at by Steinbrenner.
    Back to Brennaman: Why are you yelling at us, Thom? You’re like Brent Musburger without the charm.
    When Fox insists on trotting Lyons and Brennaman out there, in little games and big games, they’re proving that they not only don’t know baseball, they could care less about it.

  • After Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle dies in a Manhattan plane crash, Lidle’s comments about his flying safety come back to haunt us.
  • Steve Lyons is fired by Fox for taking Lou Piniella’s wallet. Or something like that.
  • The not-so-manicured Eric Byrnes, doing on-air work for ESPN and Fox postseason baseball broadcasts, reacts to the critics who say he comes to the set looking like a college sophomore on a Saturday morning:
    “I didn’t realize how many degenerates sit there at home and watch television and surf the Internet and look for ways to belittle people,” Byrnes told the Arizona Republic. “People should not be concentrating on what I’m wearing and what my hair looks like. They should be concerned with my flow and the knowledge coming out of my mouth.”
  • No introduction needed: