MIAMI (AP) – Antoine Walker arrived for practice Sunday morning, looked at a television and saw the news.

Red Auerbach – someone who Walker considered a friend and mentor – was gone.

And instantly, the Miami Heat forward, who started his career with Auerbach and the Boston Celtics, began experiencing a flood of emotions and memories.

“He’s going to be missed, especially in Boston,” Walker said. “Every time he walked into the arena, he got a standing ovation – every time. No matter if it was a regular season game, preseason game, whenever he appeared he always got a standing ovation.”

Auerbach died Saturday at 89 in Washington, D.C., where he lived.

He won nine championships as Boston’s coach, then the Celtics won seven more after he became general manager and ultimately president of the franchise.

Walker spent his first seven NBA seasons with the Celtics, then played 24 more games with Boston during the 2004-05 season before being sent to Atlanta.

When Walker was named Boston’s co-captain, Auerbach slipped him one of his trademark cigars. “You’re the captain,” Auerbach told him at the time. “Act like one. Be in control.”

Those were the moments Walker was remembering Sunday.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to have a personal relationship with a guy of his stature,” Walker said.

Heat coach Pat Riley, who was in the middle of the great rivalry between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s, called Auerbach’s death “a loss.”

“He has to go down and considered to be the greatest coach ever in all of basketball,” said Riley, who has five titles as a head coach. “There’s been a number of men that have dominated at their level and profession, but nobody like Red.”

AP-ES-10-29-06 1516EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.