BOSTON (AP) – Red Auerbach, the president and former coach of the Boston Celtics, has been hospitalized in Washington with an undisclosed health problem.

The 87-year-old coaching great has been in and out of the hospital the past month for tests and a successful surgical procedure, Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Thursday. Twiss would not identify the procedure or the hospital and said Auerbach was readmitted for an unspecified problem within the last 10 days.

A statement posted on the Celtics’ Web site said: “The Auerbach family expresses their deepest appreciation for the concern pertaining to the health of their father. Red has been under the weather at times recently and he has taken steps with his doctor to return to feeling better. The family asks that you please respect their privacy during this time.”

Auerbach, who turns 88 on Sept. 20, has two daughters, Nancy and Randy. Auerbach’s wife, Dorothy, died in 2000. A woman who answered the phone at Auerbach’s home in Washington referred all questions to Twiss.

Auerbach, who has spent the past 55 seasons with the Celtics, has had health problems before his latest hospitalization. In June, he was not feeling well enough to attend the Celtics’ annual draft party in Waltham. The next month, he was unable to attend his weeklong summer basketball camp, which has been in operation for more than four decades. This year, it was held at the University of New Hampshire.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native joined the Celtics organization in 1950 when he became the franchise’s third head coach. After stepping down as coach in 1966, he served as general manager, president and vice chairman of the board.

As coach, he won nine NBA titles with the Celtics, a record later tied by Phil Jackson. Auerbach posted a 938-479 regular-season record, including three seasons with the Washington Capitols and one with the Tri-Cities Hawks before joining the Celtics.

He once held the record for most wins as an NBA coach, a mark now held by Lenny Wilkens, and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968.

AP-ES-09-08-05 1351EDT

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