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Unfinished Business: On and Off the Court With the 1990-91 Boston Celtics Hardcover – January, 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Summit Books (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671733745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671733742
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric Mayforth on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the Boston Celtics suffered a surprising first-round playoff exit at the hands of the New York Knicks in 1990, the team came to the realization that it was time to make significant changes if the team hoped credibly to compete for one more title before the retirements of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. In "Unfinished Business," Jack McCallum tracked the Celtics' attempt to rebound in 1990-91, from the draft and the hiring of Dave Gavitt in the summer through the playoffs the next spring.

McCallum recalls how new coach Chris Ford retooled the team, injecting an element of speed and a running game with younger players like Dee Brown, Brian Shaw, Reggie Lewis, and Kevin Gamble. The author shows how the team jelled on the court and relates some of the off-the-court stories of that season, and notes that the team had a fresher, hipper image as a result of adding the younger players, culminating in Brown's memorable win in the Slam Dunk Contest that year.

For the Celtics, the season was one of change off the court as well as on--McCallum discusses the retirement of radio announcer Johnny Most and the advent of halftime promotions at Boston Garden.

The author marches through the regular season month by month, noting that the changes made to the team worked spectacularly early on--the Celtics jumped out to a 29-5 start and were seen as possible championship contenders. At the time, I was living in North Texas and got to see Bird, McHale, and Parish play in person when the Celtics came to Dallas in December 1990. Despite the team's great start, though, injuries set in late in the season and the team finished with a 56-26 record.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The "Big Three" trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish produced one of the most unforgettable dynasties in NBA history, under the watchful eye of Red Auerbach.

The author, Jack McCallum, chronicles a Bird's-eye view of the end of this great run of the Boston Celtics. At times interesting and hilarious, McCallum both tells the stories of these colorful personalities and probes the psyches of the 1991-92 Celtics.

The big three uses up most of the ink, but there are also the stories of rookies Dee Brown and Brian Shaw, and many of the reserves, as well. The Celtics go through the majority of the season looking like contenders for the Championship, but ultimately must rely on the aging Big Three to push them over the top. Unfortunately, their bodies don't cooperate.

And yet, one can see the nuances of the personalities of these NBA superstars and appreciate Bird and McHale's leadership, and very different humor. Bird can be side splitting, such as when he is lying on his stomach on the sidelines to take pressure off his back, and reaches over to untie Chuck Person's shoelaces during an inbounds, or when he slides Johnny Most's cigarettes over to the scorer's table and out of reach as he is checking into the game, leaving the close to dementia Most screaming into the microphone for his smokes.

McHale is equally humorous, but with a more down to Earth, thoughtful brand of hilarity.

Really, almost another epoch of NBA basketball, and a time gone by, but really a fun, interesting read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McCallum provides a full range of background into the minutia of modern day sports and the NBA circa 1991. By chronicling a storied NBA franchise, with 3 of the all-time players still revelant, you can see exactly how athletes live in their own special world and how personalities can alter events.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this back in the day. Basketball books have been a whole lot of miss and very little hit over the years. This wasn't a hugely successful commercial project because the Celtics weren't winning big by the time Jack wrote this. That's the only reason it wasn't a hit. Otherwise, it's a fun read. Every bit as perceptive about the early 90s as 007 is about fun and gun in the Suns. And the characters are larger. Those old Celtics will light up the horizon in basketball lit for years to come. Bird, McHale, Chief, and the rest fighting against the dying of the light. Sweet words about a sweet team and a sweet game.

Roland Lazenby
author of The Show
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jack McCallum is the NBA's Stephen King.

How do I get that, you may wonder? Well, here's what I think: McCallum is a solid writer, and never fails to keep the reader interested -- but ultimately, he's not great, and his work is nothing spectacular. What this book is MOST CERTAINLY NOT is an updated version of Halberstam's "Breaks of the Game," a landmark work in NBA and sports nonfiction that truly captured the complete essence of the Association at a given point in time -- something that McCallum alludes to attempting in the introduction. McCallum's writing, unlike Halberstam's, does not elevate the material into something more poignant than writing about sports; rather, what McCallum does well is portray characters, and it is the outstanding characters he documents who carry his work and make it memorable.

Of course, the character who defines "Unfinished Business" is Kevin McHale, the Celtics' power forward. Ever-present and almost always quick with a quip, McHale was the most quotable and reliable Celtic through the entire narrative. And yet, as McHale would be the first to notice and tell you, the entire book is overshadowed by the presence of basketball legend Larry Bird -- but somehow, in the midst of spending an entire season with the Celtics, McCallum comes away with an infirm sense of who Bird is. We see Bird, but we do not know him, not like we know McHale or Dee Brown or the coaching staff. Much of this is due to Bird's reticence and love of privacy, but all the same: for a year with the Celtics, there needs to be more of Larry Bird.
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