For anyone who followed the Celtics over the last 60 years, Tommy Heinsohn probably felt like a friend.
He'd been in the area -- first as a collegian, then a pro player, then as a coach and commentator -- since the 1950s. His broadcasting style embodied the thousands upon thousands of folks to whom he spoke. He was whip smart. He was fiery. He was honest.
There were scores of others who got a chance to know Heinsohn a bit beyond what he said and did on the air, including Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Just a few hours after news of Heinsohn's passing spread, Belichick joined WEEI for his weekly radio interview and remembered the Hall of Famer.
"What a tremendous career he had as a player and coach and even as a broadcaster," Belichick said. "He ended up bringing so many great Celtics moments to fans and really the community.
"I think he had such a great connection to the entire Boston community, fan base and obviously Celtics fans, and you know, all the sports fans in Boston that connected to him as well as the Celtics. He was an awesome guy . . . It was an honor and pleasure to get to know him. He's a wonderful man."
Celtics Talk Podcast: Remembering Tommy Heinsohn | Listen & subscribe