Jan. 21, 1964

Tommy Heinsohn, union rabble-rouser.

That wasn’t what Sam Jones said to the president of the NBA Players Association, but his teasing could be construed as such.

The news reported that the AFL – as in American Football League, not associated with the CIO – players union had successfully negotiated a pension plan with the league owners. That came one week after Heinsohn had threatened a strike that would have wiped out the NBA All Star Game at Boston Garden.

That meant Heinsohn was risking his boss, Celtics owner Walter Brown, losing his opportunity to host the All Star Game.

The more urgent matter was that the game would be the first NBA game telecast on network television.

The players sought a pension plan, athletic trainers for all teams, and the end of Sunday afternoon games for teams that played the previous night.

NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy agreed to the demands and the All-Game went on after a 22-minute delay.

As for what Jones actually said to Heinsohn, as reported by the Boston Globe: “Have you gotten a thank-you telegram from them AFL football players yet? That’s the least the least they can do for you. They got their pension quick after what happened in Boston.”

Heinsohn, who endured a week of non-stop abuse for his actions, is said to have managed a smile.