Northeastern University basketball captain Rick Weitzman was driving from his co-op job back to campus in 1967 when he heard on the car radio he was drafted by the Boston Celtics.
“I almost went off the road,” recalled Weitzman, a 10th-round pick who had also starred at Brookline High School.
NU’s cooperative education allows students to alternate their classroom studies with employment related to their majors and interests.
In that respect, the 6-foot-2-inch guard hit the jackpot.
“When I made the team out of veterans’ camp, I had one more co-op semester left, so the university and the Celtics agreed that technically the team would be my employer and I got credit,” he recalled.
The Celtics won the NBA championship that season, taking the clinching Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers at the LA Forum. Weitzman came off the bench late in the 124-109 blowout.
He made the game’s final basket — a 15-foot jump shot — and then ran off the court alongside player-coach Bill Russell. The photo capturing that moment appears in the Northeastern men’s basketball media guide.
That memory, and many others, including his time as head basketball coach at Peabody High and head scout for the Celtics, have been chronicled by the 75-year-old Peabody resident in a recently completed autobiography, which he will self-publish.
The first NU basketball player to be drafted by an NBA team, Weitzman suffered an injury and played just that one season with the Celtics.
The memories are still fresh.
“After I got back to campus, I walked into Northeastern coach Dick Dukeshire’s office and he had [Celtics general manager] Red Auerbach on the phone,” Weitzman recalled. “All Red said was ‘Congratulations, rookie/free agent camp is in Marshfield. Be there.’
“Everything was brand new to me. We first trained at Red’s basketball camp, Camp Millbrook. We played twice a day and then we had to referee the campers’ games.”
After veterans’ camp at Boston State College, Weitzman reported to the Garden locker room for opening night and was officially a Celtic.
An inductee to the Brookline High, Peabody High, Northeastern, and New England basketball halls of fame, Weitzman coached Peabody teams that posted a 135-67 record and won several league titles while he taught English at the school.
He moved on as radio and television color commentator at Celtics games alongside the legendary Johnny Most and was a Celtics scout for 15 years who brought Reggie Lewis, Rick Fox, and Dee Brown into the fold. He subsequently scouted for several NBA teams and for Marty Blake’s NBA scouting service.
He was also a tour guide at Fenway Park and an assistant coach at UMass Boston, retiring four years ago.
Weitzman and his wife, Carol, have two daughters, Alyssa and Jennifer.
His most cherished possession is his 1968 NBA championship ring, and his friendships have lasted a lifetime.
“I used to reunite with my Brookline High teammates until the pandemic,” he said, “and we’ve kept in touch through Zoom.”
“Looking back,” he added, “playing for the Celtics gave me confidence. I became more mature. And it sure got me used to traveling.”
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