Four years after his playing career ended, Heinsohn returned to Boston as a coach. And, he coached that team to five consecutive conference finals appearances and two NBA championships, in 1974 and 1976.
After bringing a championship to Boston, the Celtics had a rough start to the 1977-78 season. Team owner Irv Levin decided that was enough to ax Heinsohn just 30 games into the season.
Since Heinsohn was/is a gem, he had several coaching offers waiting for him. One of them being from the Rockets. As you probably figured out, the pitch went as well as Kobe Bryant's to Dwight Howard when he was "trying" to get him to re-sign with the Lakers:
"They looked at me like I was from Mars" after he suggested they add a certain player. "I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to spend the next five years educating these people,’ " Heinsohn said. "So I got on the plane with my agent and we’re sitting up in first class and the stewardess says, ‘Would you like something to drink?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, how about some champagne?’ She said, ‘You’re celebrating something?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you’re not going to believe this, but I’m celebrating turning down a million-dollar deal. And I’m the happiest man in the world.’ "
Pretty much a Cinderella story...