By Bill Burt
What separated Red Auerbach from the rest was the big deal. Or two. Or three.
Every Celtics mini-dynasty was a result of an outside-the-box deal.
The deal for the second pick of the 1956 draft, which netted the Celtics the greatest winner of all-time, was Red's greatest work.
Upon advice from his former coach at George Washington University, Bill Reinhart, who told Red that "this Bill Russell kid" at the University of San Francisco, would win you "many championships."
Red listened and worked his magic.
The St. Louis Hawks had the second pick and he offered them six-time All-Star "Easy" Ed Macauley, a St. Louis native and former All-American at St. Louis University.
The Hawks were interested with one caveat: throw in the rights to former Kentucky star Cliff Hagan, who was the Celtics' property and was serving in the military.
One problem: Rochester had the first pick. Red asked his owner, Walter Brown, for help in making Rochester an offer it couldn't refuse to bypass Russell.
Brown said he would arrange for his lucrative "Ice Capades" show to perform in Rochester two weeks after the draft if they would leave Russell alone. Rochester was strong up front and followed protocol, drafting Sihugo Green instead.
The drafting of another future Hall of Famer, Dave Cowens, has a humorous Red story, as well.
Upon watching Cowens at one of his final collegiate games at Florida State, Red walked out of the arena at halftime, apparently disgusted. Scouts took note of Red's hasty exit. Some had thought the Cowens might be drafted first or second.
Well, he slipped to fourth and Red took him as soon as the Celtics pick was up in the 1970 draft.
Danny Ainge has a Red story, too.
He had signed a contract for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The National Player of the Year at BYU, Ainge, a 6-4 guard, had told NBA teams that he would not be available to play basketball because of his baseball contract.
"I told Red what I told every team: I was playing baseball," said Ainge. "He was the only one that apparently didn't care or listen."
Red drafted Ainge in the second round, with the 31st pick overall.
"A deal was worked out. My contract was bought. And I was a Celtic," said Ainge, who enjoyed a fine 14-year NBA career, the first half of which was in Boston. "It was all Red."