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The Wizard of Odds: How Jack Molinas Almost Destroyed the Game of Basketball Hardcover – December 4, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; A Seven Stories Press 1st Ed edition (December 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583222685
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583222683
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,654,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Jack Molinas was a star college and professional basketball player in the 1950s who was expelled from the National Basketball Association in his rookie year for betting on games. He had been manipulating point spreads since his college days at Columbia, and after his expulsion from the NBA he attained his law degree and became a major wheel in the mob-influenced college basketball point fixing scandals of 1961. Eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role as a fixer, he served five before being paroled, forging a new career in pornography, and finally being gunned down under mysterious circumstances. Prolific basketball writer Rosen quotes extensively from lengthy interviews Milton Gross conducted with Molinas in the 1960s for a never-published biography. Because of Molinas's duplicitous, self-serving nature, the reader is never sure how true certain allegations are. A fascinating view of the seamy side of sports gambling, this will be of particular interest to college sports and basketball historians. Recommended for all libraries. John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Basketball player, coach, and critically acclaimed novelist CHARLEY ROSEN played for Hunter College from 1959–62, where he set school records for scoring and rebounding, and was voted team MVP all three years. He went on to play for the US Maccabiah team in 1961, for Camden and Scranton in the Eastern League (a forerunner of the Continental Basketball Association) in 1962, and was a member of the bronze-medal-winning team in the World Senior Games in 1994. Rosen coached in the minor-league Continental Basketball Association for nine years and was the head coach of the women's team at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He lives in Woodstock, NY.

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Customer Reviews

Rosen lets Molinas' story speak for itself.
Jim Lester
If you are interested in true crime, or just a fascinating true story, you will enjoy this book and learn some history in the process.
just saying
The least they should do is make contact and try to correct the error.
Joel Schwartz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gross on March 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Caveat Emptor: This book is based in large part on interviews conducted by the late New York Post sports columnist Milton Gross, my father. They were used without the permission of his heirs, and were never checked against the audiotapes on which they were based which are in my possession and have been for almost thirty years. But what's worse is that the book is factually innacurate and the author did not even attempt to confirm what he printed. Instead of thanking the person whose work he based his book on, Rosen prints untruths about him. One example: on the last page of the book, Rosen has Milton Gross skipping Molinas' funeral and instead, attempting to cash in on his death. Milton Gross had been dead for over two years when Molinas died. He would have had to make that call from his grave.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim Lester on October 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Talk about a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. THE WIZARD OF ODDS has all the elements of a first rate piece of fiction--comedy, tragedy, a story arch, the triumph of justice and most of all a fascinating main character.

Jack Molinas had it all. He was tall, rock-star handsome and possessed a genius I.Q. And he had the basketball skills to make it to the NBA. Yet, as Charley Rosen's tale unfolds, Molinas had a tragic flaw that eventually cost him his job with the Fort Wayne Pistons, placed him at the highest level of scuzzy gamblers who corrupted college basketball in the early 1960s, earned him a prison stretch and eventually cost him his life.
Rosen's story unfolds on several levels but at its heart, THE WIZARD OF ODDS is about how the American subculture of gambling corrupted one of our nation's favorite sports.

The author's narrative style is highly readable with a minimum of moralistic preaching. Rosen lets Molinas' story speak for itself. I would highly recommend THE WIZARD OF ODDS to anyone interested in the history of college basketball or anyone who would just like to read about one of the most intriguing figures in sports or any other field.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Marcus on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Charley Rosen provides readers with an entertaining book about one of basketball's most talented players, Jack Molinas. Unfortunately, it seems that some of Rosen's information might not be accurate - especially the statements about one of Jack's long-time friends, Shirley Marcus, which are based on innuendoes; and some of Rosen's statements about one of the greatest sportswriters of all times, Milton Gross.

What is particularly disappointing about this otherwise interesting book is how Rosen protects the basketball establishment by putting all the blame on Jack Molinas. The fact is, a real exploration of gambling in sports could lead to a public outcry - followed by reduced advertiser support and cancelled television contracts.

Molinas was no angel, to be sure - and Rosen does a pretty good job of characterizing this complex and talented athlete. But as the title of the book implies, it is the betting odds - the point spreads that appear in most major newspapers - that is more key to the problem than the actions of a single "Wizard" like Jack Molinas, or a lone referee (as David Stern would like us to believe).

Sadly, the current Commissioner, team owners, as well as sportswriters and commentators, would rather sidestep the problem posed by gambling than risk the millions of dollars that are at stake from advertising, television contracts, and sports fans. (Jerry Marcus is the author of the just-published novel, Broken Trust - The Murder Of Basketball Star Jack Molinas)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By New Hampshire Bob on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book goes into great detail regarding the life
and times of Jack Molinas and his effect on the world
of Basketball in the early fifties. I was a High School
Classmate of Mr. Molinas so the book was of great interest
to me. He was an exceptional player and met a tragic end
most likely due to his earlier gambling connections.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. S.reiss on March 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a work of fiction.The list of errorsis too great to warrant a non-fiction label.The author makes the case that Molinas is a habitual liar.So,why would Rosen print Molinas comments in interviews other sports writers had with him without corroboration.There is no doubt that Molinas was an unusual character with huge talents who preferred to break all the rules,making him a tragic figure.It is hard to enjoy this read,because there is no way to discern truth from fantasy.I think Molinas had the last laugh with his creative tales to writers.He figured they would accept his stories as the gospel...Bob Reiss
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Morris on January 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting background of post war - 1960 growing up as a "city kid" in New York. Lots and lots of characters vividly portrayed by Rosen. The author does tend to excuse Molinas' self-centered, corrupt behavior because he was a very bright guy who graduated from Stuyvesant, Columbia and Brooklyn Law school (in his spare time!).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
MUST READ FOR EVERY FAN OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL. HOW THE GAME WAS ALMOS RUINED BY GREED FOR THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR
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