By Gary Tolley
When Boston Celtics great Tom Heinsohn passed away on November 10, 2020, the basketball world suffered a huge loss. The popular Hall of Fame player, coach, and celebrated announcer was gone. Silenced forever.
It simply won’t be the same when the team takes the court in a few weeks, knowing that we’ll never hear his booming voice on the air again. No more friendly “advice” for the referees. No more expert analysis. No more fun banter with Mike Gorman.
We’ve all been robbed of a lot of precious things in 2020, but losing Tom Heinsohn really hurts. He was an entertainer. He helped make watching the games fun. He smiled a lot, and it was impossible not to like him.
Tom was a great player in the early days of professional basketball, but bad knees and a horrible smoking habit had him out of the league at the ripe old age of 30. Tom smoked for 50 years. It has been reported that Tom suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease toward the end. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD in the United States.
In memory of Tom Heinsohn, the Celtics should remove the smoking pipe from the leprechaun logo at center court, as well as from all merchandise. As a society we have a moral obligation to protect impressionable kids from the dangers of tobacco, and the Celtics should do the right thing here. If not now, when?
More than 7 million people will die from tobacco use in 2020. That is a lot of preventable death. By comparison, governments have shut down the entire world for COVID-19 which will kill perhaps 1.8 million this year. Think about that.
The NBA should step up and require the pipe’s removal. No professional sports league in 2020 should tolerate a team logo that has a nicotine delivery device.
Havlicek stole the ball back in 1965, but it’s highly likely that the tobacco industry stole Tommy Heinsohn from us in 2020. The same can also be said about Eddie Van Halen, a long-time smoker himself. Countless victims of tobacco have left us too soon in 2020. Enough already.
Come on Celtics- erase the pipe! It will take a little courage (change always does) – but you’ll send a powerful, positive, and inspiring message to fans of all ages – that smoking has no place in the Celtics organization.
You’ll earn ‘Tommy Points’ from the fans if you erase the pipe.
-Gary Tolley, sports columnist, doghillmedia.com