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Volume 23 No. 13
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Closing Shot: Reporting to Camp

The Boston Celtics open practice for the season in the gleaming new Auerbach Center. It’s a long way from those days splitting time with students at Mass Maritime Academy.
Red Auerbach joins assistant coach John Killilea (left) and head coach Tom Heinsohn at training camp at Mass Maritime Academy in September 1976.
Photo: getty images
Red Auerbach joins assistant coach John Killilea (left) and head coach Tom Heinsohn at training camp at Mass Maritime Academy in September 1976.
Photo: getty images
Red Auerbach joins assistant coach John Killilea (left) and head coach Tom Heinsohn at training camp at Mass Maritime Academy in September 1976.
Photo: getty images

Longtime Boston Celtics executive Jeff Twiss was an intern for the team in 1976 when it held training camp at Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne, Mass. He recalls the facility as a decent, well-lit gym with six baskets.

 

There was only one issue: an unforgiving playing floor.

 

“The problem was that the facility had a tartan surface floor,” Twiss said. “It raised hell with guys’ legs and knees. The floor was not conducive.”

 

And because training camp was held during school, the players shared the gym with students.

Camp is still camp on the courts. You still have to fit all the new pieces of the team together. It is all the surrounding stuff that has changed.
Rich Gotham
President, Boston Celtics

“School was in session, but they were good in sharing the facilities,” Twiss said, adding that Celtics players back then received only one set of practice gear.

 

As NBA training camp officially opens this week for the 2018-19 season, the Celtics are the latest of four NBA teams that have opened new practice facilities over the past year, joining Atlanta, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

 

The 70,000-square-foot Auerbach Center at Boston Landing is named after Red Auerbach, the Celtics’ legendary head coach, general manager and team president. The facility has amenities that the late Auerbach could never have imagined when he visited training camp at Mass Maritime in September 1976 and sat with assistant coach John Killilea and head coach Tom Heinsohn.

 

The Auerbach Center, also known as “Red’s House,” boasts two parquet floors, a hydrotherapy room with a 40-foot exercise pool and float tank, a medical exam room with jersey sponsor GE Medical Imaging equipment, and a sports science lab to gather data on player performance.

 

Photo: w. marc bernsau / boston business journal
Photo: w. marc bernsau / boston business journal
Photo: w. marc bernsau / boston business journal

“There was no sleep tank back then,” said Twiss, now the team’s vice president of media services and alumni services. “Today is a much different mindset.”

 

Celtics President Rich Gotham said the Auerbach Center represents a new chapter. “There is a different feel and a buzz,” he said. “All the championship banners hanging and just the overall feel of the place that has the wow factor. … The league has evolved to a point where there is so much attention around getting guys to peak performance and maintaining the health and recovery and all that goes into it.”

 

Despite the cushy new appointments, some things haven’t changed since Auerbach ran the training camps.

 

“Camp is still camp on the courts,” Gotham said. “You still have to fit all the new pieces of the team together. It is all the surrounding stuff that has changed.”