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Rise of a Dynasty: The '57 Celtics, The First Banner, and the Dawning of a New America Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 2, 2010
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About the Author
Bill Reynolds is an award-winning columnist for the Providence Journal and the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Success Is a Choice and '78.
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The 1957 NBA championship series went to seven games as the all-white St. Louis Hawks battled the Boston Celtics with rookie Bill Russell, who would become the league's first black superstar. Game Seven was the first NBA championship game televised. A thrilling 125-123 overtime Celtics' win before a huge television audience helped spark interest in the NBA.
The 1957 Celtics with Coach Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinshon and Ed MacCauley won the first of 11 championships in 13 seasons.
Auerbach, Cousy and Russell changed the game is played in their own ways. Auer-bach, hired in 1950, was all about winning. He didn't care who he alienated as long as he won. He was a master manipulator who never motivated players the same way. His only goal was to make the group better, whatever it took.
Cousy, a showman and master ballhandler, was credited with saving the NBA in its early years. He was a popular Everyman, a rags-to-riches story and a Holy Cross graduate who was a fan favorite. Cousy wanted to win as much as Auerbach.
Russell was a combination of size and athleticism never seen before in the NBA. He turned defense into an art form. One scout said, "He can't shoot at all, but he's the best player I've ever seen." He came to win and the only statistic he cared about was whether his team won.
While the Celtics-Hawks championship series is the anchor for the book, Reynolds spends most of his time discussing the 1950s era, the fledging NBA and the impact of Russell on the NBA. He paints interesting portraits of the individual Celtics and Hawks.
You don't have to be a Boston Celtics fan to enjoy this book. I think any NBA fan will appreciate how Coach Auerbach and the Celtics built the foundation of a dynasty.
13, 1957 double overtime game between the Celtics and the Hawks, but
he does an incredible job of telling what the NBA was like back
then, what the US was like in the mid-fifties and he also does a great job
of delving deeply into the persona of Russell, Cousy and Auerbach.
As someone who sat on the end of the Hawks bench as their 14 year
old water boy that day, I can tell you that Reynolds also did a fantastic job of
telling the story of the game and everything around it.
Recommended for all Boston sports fans and a very good intro to sports history for the younger fan.
Let's be honest when you see the title of this book you expect it to be about what? For me I expected it to be about the Celtics and the making of the season and then the season and in the end? The Championship/Series. However, he adds a lot more insight than I expected. Some of this is good. I enjoy the tangents about Cousy and Heinsohn. I enjoyed learning about the history of Boston (enough so I might read a book about it seperately as it is my home city) But in this book the focus seems off.
My explanation for this is that he doesn't seem to have a true priority for what he wants to discuss. He talks about the Celtics, but also about the forming of basketball and the origin of the original Knicks, Madison Square Garden and random black teams from the early 1900's. It's all fascinating stuff, but it doesn't feel relevant towards the story. Perhaps the proper way of saying this is that there is too much history and not enough focus on the championship season.
The section about Russell and the discrimination he faced and the relationship with Red I enjoyed that immensely. Learning about Cousy, Heinsohn and even how the city generally disregarded the Celtics because of other hero's such as Agganis and Ted Williams was interesting as well and seemed to pertain to the story. But overall the book is good, not great because of a lack of focus. I would absolutely recommend it to any Celtics fan interested in the history. Heck, I'd recommend it to any fan of the city of Boston.
But, is it a sports book? Or is it a history lesson of Boston that has to do with the Celtics? I think it's the latter, and to be honest that's kind of disappointing.