I am continuing the series on Celtics books that I highly recommend to any Celtics fans to read. If you haven't read Let Me Tell You a Story by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein, you are missing out on a lot of great stories about the Celtics from the master story teller himself. I will be sharing a few excerpts from it to whet your appetite for this fascinating book. For years Red Auerbach had weekly lunches with a varied group of men where he shared stories about his past and his tenure with the Celtics. Writer John Feinstein joined these weekly lunches and gathered these stories for us to share them also. I will begin with Feinstein's first lunch with Red and the group to set the stage for the rest of the book.
There were, I was pleased to see, five familiar faces: Red, Morgan Wootten, who sat on Red's left; Jack Kvancz, who sat next to Morgan; and Tom Penders and Joe McKeown, the men's and women's basketball coaches at GW, respectively. I remembered Jack telling me that Red always invited the GW basketball people to come to lunch when they were free. The chair on the other side of Red was empty. "Here, kid, sit down," Red said indicating the chair. The man sitting to the right of the chair was small, wearing thick glasses and a Celtics baseball cap. "Zang Auerbach," he said, putting out his hand. "Hard to believe a good looking guy like me is Red's brother, huh?" I was introduced to the rest of the table, but none of the names registered. There were two guys dressed in dark suits who looked like they had been cast as Secret Service agents in a movie. Their names were Pete Dowling and Bob Campbell. It was only later that I would learn that they were Secret Service agents. Most of the others were older men, in their seventies and eighties. One, whose name I heard to be Hymie began screaming at me soon after I sat down. "Look at that notebook," he said when I took one out. "He brought a goddamn notebook. As if this sonofabith" - he pointed at Red- "has anything to say worth hearing. Most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. Son, if this is the best you can come up with to write about, your career must really be going badly." I looked at Red to see his reaction to all this. He was cracking up. "Don't mind Hymie," he said. "He's still recovering from his war wounds." I looked at the man again. He appeared to be almost as old as Red. "Which war?" I asked. "World War Two," Red said. "Which war?" Hymie roared. "The Civil War. Which War? Seriously now, someone pays you to be a reporter?" On the other side of me, Zang was yelling at Hymie. "I told you to behave yourself today. Why do you insist on ruining lunch every week?" "Shut up," you old geezer." Hymie responded. The next ninety minutes were as entertaining as the first five had been. While waiting for the food to arrive, everyone chatted about topics of the day, from Monica Lewinsky to Rick Pitino. Larry Bird's name came up. He was doing very good work as coach of the Indiana Pacers. Morgan turned to Red. "What was a better move by you - Bird or the McHale-Parish trade?" Red smiled, "McHale-Parish," he said, referring to the 1980 deal in which he acquired future Hall of Famers Kevin McHale and Robert Parish in return for less than immortal Joe Barry Carroll. "Anyone tells you they knew Bird would be as good as he turned out- including me - is a liar. I started writing furiously. Hymie glared. Red talked at length about Bird and Mchale and Parish. "But the Russell deal was number one," Morgan said doing my job for me. "Oh yeah," Red said. "You know how I got Russell, don't you?" he said to me. Before I could answer, Zang elbowed me. "Whatever you do," he said softly, "don't tell him that you know." I knew something about it, knew that it involved a trade with the St Louis Hawks for Russell's draft rights in 1956. "You traded two great players for him, right?" I said, not wanting to appear ignorant despite Zang's warning. "Yeah, but that was the easy part," he said. "I gave St. Louis Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to move up to number two in the draft. But Rochester still had the number one pick." "So how'd you get them not to take Russell?" Red smiled. I had set him up perfectly. "The Ice-Capades," he said. "The Ice-Capades?" "Sure. Walter Brown [the owner of the Celtics] was president of the Ice-Capades. I had him call Les Harrison, the owner in Rochester, and tell them he'd send the Ice-Capades up there for a week if they didn't draft Russell." "So you got Russell for the Ice-Capades?" "You got it." Never in my life have I written an easier column than that one, or a more enjoyable one.
I found 3 that cover periods in the 70's. Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile, that I posted excerpts from covers Tommy's playing days, but also, his coaching years in the 70's.
An excellent book on the 70's is Celtics Pride- The Rebuilding of Boston's World Championship Basketball Team by Bob Ryan. This book covers the rebuilding years from 1969 when Russell retired until 1974 when they won their next title.
I also have the Short Season - A Boston Celtics Diary, 1977-1978 by John Power. This one is really good too because you get a real inside picture of the team as it is in diary form month by month.
Those are the books I have from the 70s that are good. I get mine from Amazon.com and usually you can find them pretty cheap there.