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Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game Hardcover – October 26, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Every Tuesday for four years, Feinstein, the author of two of the bestselling sports books of all time, A Good Walk Spoiled and A Season on the Brink, played story collector, gathering tales for this, his 16th offering. During those four years, Feinstein lived for the Monday-night phone call that delivered five words to him every week: "Tuesday. Eleven o’clock. China Doll." Those words invited him to the most exclusive lunch club in sports, led by legendary Boston Celtics coach Auerbach and frequented by coaches, secret service agents, close friends and Auerbach relatives, as well as by anyone in D.C. lucky enough to receive an invitation. Between bites of Mu-Shu pork and chicken-fried rice, Auerbach and his crew chewed on subjects from politics to women’s basketball to today’s coaches, and Feinstein jotted it all down. The Feinstein-Auerbach collaboration brings together two of the most sought-after storytellers in sports and gives readers their own invitation into the China Doll club. In more than 50 years with the green and gold, Auerbach collected countless friends, admirers and stories. Now 86, he’s forgotten nothing and has an opinion on everything. "I ever tell you how I got to know Joe Dimaggio?" begins chapter three. "I ever tell you how I got thrown out of the all-star game in 1967? About the time I met Clinton and Gore?" These great storytellers make this book so effortless to read that you can almost hear Red reciting each line and smell him lighting up that famous cigar. Tuesday. Eleven o’clock. Don’t be late. And never, under any circumstances, offer to pick up the check. 8 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

After meeting Red Auerbach, the legendary Boston Celtic coach and de facto father of the modern NBA, a few years ago, Feinstein wangled an invitation to a regular Tuesday lunch in Washington, D.C., where Auerbach and various of his cronies trade stories. Feinstein became a regular, which led to this anecdotal autobiography of a genuine sports icon. Auerbach won nine NBA titles as the Celtics' coach, and he added another seven as the team's general manager. Naturally, he has lots of opinions about the game of basketball, as it's played today and as it was played in his prime. He also has plenty to say about both Bill Russell, the key player on all of his championship teams, and Wilt Chamberlain, Russell's nemesis, and he discusses his Depression-era youth and early years as an itinerant coach. Many of Red's stories are familiar, but hearing the first-person versions is a treat. Auerbach's life and memories form the plot of Feinstein's book, but a strong subtext is the friendship among the dozen or so regulars who make it to the restaurant each week. In fact, the book is as much about the lunches as it is about Auerbach. We watch as a group of older men pass their wisdom on to those they have come to view as worthy successors. A fascinating life story, a terrific basketball book, and a compelling look at generations communicating around a modern-day campfire. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316738239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316738231
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,642,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Since John Feinstein's debut book, 1987's unexpected breakout smash-hit "A Season on the Brink", he has been cranking out about one book a year, a veritable franchise! "Let Me Tell You a Story" is his 16th book, albeit credited to co-writer Red Auerbach. I am neither a Celtic fanatic, or even a big NBA fan for that matter, but I am a sucker for a good story teller, and boy, I was not disappointed.

"Let Me Tell You a Story" (346 pages) grew from Feinstein attencing the weekly luncheon get-togethers that Auerbach holds every Tuesday in a Chinese restaurant in Washington DC. One thing lead to another, and before we know it, we have a book containing many of those fun and entertaining stories of hoe Auerbach broke into basketball, got into coaching at the NBA when the league was started, and eventually coached and later general-managed the Celtics into the league's powerhouse. I didn't know that Auerbach's life was centered in Washington, even when he coached the Celtics. As a George Washington U. graduate myself, it was fun to find out how big a supporter Auerbach is of the GW basketball program (Auerbach is an GW alum himself, class of 1940). The story about how he had GW finally get some really good hot dogs at the games nowadays, is hilarious.

Auerbach is an impressive person, with a memory of steel. His recollections of the early days are priceless, and Feinstein writes them up in an effortless and entertaining way. Is this a "deep" book? Of course not, but it sure makes for a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
If your sports memories are in black and white TV format, and go back to Gus Johnson, Jack Marin, and The Pearl twirling it for the Washington Bullets, Wilt (Russell's Trademark Foil) and Hal Greer lurking up in Philly, Elgin and the Cabin Creek Commando waiting Out West...with The Good Guys - Bill Russell and Bailey Howell and Hondo and Heinsohn and Don Nelson and all the rest - looming above it all, then you'll want to hear every story Red Auerbach has to tell.

There are few more annoying individuals in print than Jr. Feinstein; at some point, you realize whatever he's writing is "about him"... but I've not yet been able to resist his chatty, insider trading approach to sports biography, beginning with A Season on the Brink. Feinstein has a great ear for the way people speak, an insatiable curiosity for how folks got where they are, and delights in the web that brings people together. That's never more apparent as he unravels what brought each man to the China Doll, each Tuesday, at 11am SHARP!

This is a loving, smart tribute (with some of Feinstein's trademark tattle tale snide stuff sprinkled throughout) to a loving, smart man. It's also a great tale of friendship, and a reminder of how those of us with mentors must never squander a chance to spend time with them. Coach Knight keeps a note on his desk to call Red once a month; we'd all be well served to do the same to keep in touch with those who still have much to give.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not a big fan of basketball, but I do remember Red Auerbach when he coached the Boston Celtics. Red and many of his friends have weekly Tuesday get-togethers at the China Doll Restaurant in Washington, D.C. where they swap stories with one another. Red gives his opinions on coaches today who he feels overcoach their team and often play to the cameras and fans by jumping up and down and screaming with their team up by 20 or 30 points with a minute or two in the game. Red's rule for winning is simple: Get good players who are good people and you will have a winning team. People say Red was a great coach because he had great players. But, the author adds, "Who do you think chose the players?" Red always has had a good relationship with Bobby Knight. Knight said, "He (Red) was nice to me for no reason years ago and he never stopped." A pet peeve of his is P.A. announcers who mumble the names of the visiting players during introductions and then boost up the P.A. system when the home team is introduced "as if they just saved the planet." Red finally gave up coaching at the age of forty eight due to exhaustion. Dealing with having to scout and being a general manager and keeping the team's talent pool coming had worn him out. Reading this book is a learning experience for coaches on all levels, and I am proof you don't have to be a basketball fan to enjoy the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of two books which I have recently read, the other being Jeff Davis' Papa Bear: The Life and Legacy of George Halas. Both Auerbach and Halas were obviously great coaches but also outstanding CEOs, each building a successful and profitable franchise while playing a key role in a multi-billion dollar professional organization. In this instance, the National Basketball Association.

Although generally viewed as a sportswriter, Feinstein has always seemed (to me, at least) to be a cultural anthropologist who works very hard to understand not only major sports figures and events but also their social context. This is especially true of A March to Madness: A View from the Floor in the Atlantic Coast Conference, The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball, A Civil War: Army Vs. Navy (A Year Inside College Football's Purest Rivalry), and A Season on the Brink, a detailed account of the Indiana University men's basketball team's 1985-1986 season.

What we have in this volume is Feinstein's account of his close association with Arnold ("Red") Auerbach over a four-year period during which Feinstein was included among a select few who regularly met with Auerbach for lunch almost every week at the China Doll restaurant in Washington (DC). What emerges is a multi-dimensional portrait of Auerbach as revealed by his and others' reminiscences and observations. Feinstein also includes relevant information from his extensive research on Auerbach, the N.B.A., the Boston Celtics teams Auerbach coached, and their opponents.

By all accounts, he was a ferocious but highly-principled competitor.
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