Ainge is a longtime team executive who spent eight of his 14 years as an NBA player with the Celtics. He won league titles with the team in 1984 and 1986.
He joined the team’s front office in 2003 and presided over losing seasons in three of his first four years. But in 2007, he acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Paul Pierce, beginning in earnest the NBA’s “super team” era.
Boston won the NBA Finals in 2008, the franchise’s first championship since 1986. The team has had only two losing campaigns in the 11 years since.
The night he fell ill, the Celtics dropped Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks, the top team in the conference, to leave the series tied at one game apiece.
Game 3 is in Boston at 8 p.m. Friday.