Basketball: One Last Smoke

Red Auerbach has this thing about cigars. He never smokes on the bench until his Boston Celtics have the game all wrapped up. Once they do, though, he crams an enormous stogie into his mouth and settles contentedly back wreathed in smiles and smoke. In 20 years—16 of them with the Celtics—Red has won 1,036 games, and performed the ritual countless times. Last week, on the night of his retirement, he lit up one last smoke.

The Celtics usually win the N.B.A. championship by the simple stratagem of walloping the sneakers off everyone in sight. Not this year. The Celtics had...

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