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

22 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 (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


--I make a nice tomato sauce, using bell peppers and vinegar.
--Our family used to have two waverunners that I drove too wildly and served as a poor example for my sons, who also drove too wildly. We don't have them anymore.
--My wife is smarter than I. One of my sons is a farmer and the other is a professor of sociology and both are also smarter than I.
--I'm not sure what else I would've done if I weren't a journalist. I always dreamed about having a TastyKake route at the Jersey shore. I am at the shore much of the summer but have no route, though I do enjoy Tastykakes.
--I played a lot of pickup basketball until I tore my Achilles. My knees aren't great either.
--Though it is more in the romantic tradition of journalism to have an eccentric two-fingered typing style, I type well, owing to a background in piano and a typing class in high school. I now suck at the piano.
--I will talk about my grandson, Oliver, all day. He is also smarter than I even though he's not yet 3.
--My golf game is just good enough to be ultimately disappointing.
--I count myself lucky to have been covering the NBA in the 1980s and early 1990s.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Sweeney on April 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right up there with Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game". A terrific read by a writer whom I wish would have produced more work in the following years. McCallum does a terrific job for SI today, but it's books like this that leave me wanting more from him.

For any Celtics fan of the Bird Era, this book opens doors that would have otherwise have stayed closed: we get to see the biting yet inclusive humor of the aging C's, especially McHale, as well as the overall intelligence of the team that produced a slew of future NBA coaches and GM's. This was a team to be admired and maybe even loved, despite their lack of a championship.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roland Lazenby on January 25, 2009
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jtpm on February 28, 2011
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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By Pugwash on January 2, 2014
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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the few definitive accounts of the great "Big Three"-era Celtics teams of the '80s and early '90s. This thoughtful and balanced snapshot into the fall of a great NBA dynasty is in turns thrilling and thought-provoking. The reader sees how intelligent and hilariously sarcastic McHale was, both on the court and in the locker room; the tactiurn and even surly Chief, always the first one dressed and out after the game; Walton was an earnest and devoted disciple of the game, as practiced at the peak of execution by those hard-working and talented Celts teams. But the lynchpin of the Celtics franchise and of this book was larry Bird, the enigmatic teammate and vicious competitor who no one can truly claim to fully know.

McCallum's reputation was well-earned as a hard-working and honest journalist of the highest ilk. He does himself proud here, with a balanced and unsparing look into the Celtics' locker room and board room, and considers the stark future of the franchise.
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