Hall of Famer and Boston Celtics great Tom Heinsohn, who was involved in all 17 NBA titles won by the franchise, has died at the age of 86.

Heinsohn's association with the Celtics spanned six decades as a player, coach and commentator. The six-time All Star won eight NBA titles in nine seasons as a player and two more as coach.

"For all of his accomplishments as a player, coach, and broadcaster, it is Tommy's rich personality that defined the man," the Celtics said in a statement.

"A loving father, grandfather, and husband. A talented painter and a lively golf partner. Unofficial mentor to decades of Celtics coaches and players. A frequent constructive critic of referees. Originator of the most 'Celtic stat' of them all, The 'Tommy Point'. And a boundless love for all things Boston Celtics, a passion which he shared with fans over 64 years."

Heinsohn is just one of four people to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach, joining Celtics teammate Bill Sharman, Lenny Wilkens and John Wooden.

Heinsohn, playing alongside Bill Russell and Bob Cousy in the golden years of Celtics basketball, scored 18.6 points per game in his nine seasons in Boston (1956-65). He was the 1956-57 NBA Rookie of the Year.

His retired No 15 jersey hangs from the rafters at TG Garden, home of the Celtics. The team retired it in 1965.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver touched on Heinsohn's legacy in a statement.

"Tommy Heinsohn's remarkable contributions to our game bridged generations and personified the Boston Celtics for more than 60 years," Silver said.

"He was synonymous with success, winning eight NBA championships in nine seasons with Boston as a player and two more as its coach, which led to his rare distinction of Hall of Fame status in both capacities.

"Tommy was equally renowned as an NBA broadcaster who made his mark on both the national and local stage. Celtics games will not be the same without Tommy, and he will be dearly missed by those who share his fervour for basketball. We extend our deepest sympathies to Tommy's family, his friends and the Celtics organisation."

Heinsohn led Boston to a 427-263 record as head coach, leading the team to NBA titles in 1974 and 1976. He was the 1972-73 NBA Coach of the Year. He led the Celtics to the play-offs six times, finishing with a 47-33 post-season record.

His 427 wins trail only Red Auerbach's 795 in team history.

In the 1977-78 season, with the team off to an 11-23 start, he was fired by the Celtics. Three seasons later, he kicked off his broadcasting career, providing colour commentary alongside Mike Gorman for the next 40 years.

Heinsohn created and doled out his legendary 'Tommy Points' for exceptional plays - mostly by Celtics players.