I was talking to Lex the other day about Celtics books and the books we were reading. I love reading about the history of the Celtics. There's so many great stories that both players and coaches have to tell. One day I'll probably run out of books to read and then, I'll just have to start over again. I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to books on the Celtics and their history. Training camp is awhile yet and we are getting into the slow part of the offseason and this would be a great time for Celtics fans to dig into a few good books on the Celtics. Many of these give you a background glimpse of the franchise and players you couldn't get otherwise. Here are a few that I have read and recommend. Learning about the history of the Celtics and the players is a great way to fill in the time until training camp.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein, Little, Brown and Company; 2004.
In more than 50 years with the green team, Auerbach collected countless friends, admirers and stories. At 86, when he wrote this book, he had forgotten nothing and had an opinion on everything. These great stories make this book so fascinating to read that you can almost hear Red reciting them and smell him lighting up that famous cigar.
DYNASTY’S END – Bill Russell and the 1968-69 World Champion Boston Celtics by Thomas J. Whelan, Northeastern University Press; 2004.
Thomas J. Whalen chronicles Bill Russell's memorable last season and the Celtics' incredible triumph. Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s and Boston's own turbulent and bitter struggles with race, he tells the fascinating story of how an improbable championship team overcame poor health, indifferent fans, disruptive personnel changes, and internal morale problems. Whalen recounts how Russell transformed the game of basketball during his remarkable career and revisits the outspoken superstar's conflicted relationship with Boston. He also tells why the Celtics, the first team to break several NBA color lines, failed to attract a loyal following among the city's largely white sports fanatics and press corps. This book is very special to me since it was this team that won me over as a lifetime Celtics' fan.
BIRD WATCHING, On Playing and Coaching The Game I Love by Larry Bird with Jackie MacMullan, Warner Books; 1999.
Just as he stunned opponents with over-the-shoulder passes, killer steals, and jaw-dropping long-range jumpers on the court, Larry Bird now offers one startling revelation after another as he candidly recounts his rise to become one of the most respected NBA coaches in the game today. He tells us for the first time what really happened in "Celtics Land" after he retired and why he chose Indiana for his first coaching job. He shares a last look back at the Celtics dynasty, at Robert Parish and Bill Walton, at Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson. He describes his last duels with Magic Johnson and with Michael Jordan, as well as his experience of playing on the great 1992 Olympic team ... Knowing that it was the last time he would be sharing a court with them. But Bird Watching is more than a book about basketball. Recalling his own painful shyness, battles with the press, and the demands of stardom, Bird also talks about the world he never left behind: drinking a beer at Jubil's bar in French Lick, doing his own yard work, and remembering the lessons he learned from his hardworking mother. I think my favorite story in this book is from the Olympics. He was telling how they could never get out of the hotel without being mobbed and so he rarely ventured out. Then one day he was shown a back door and he would sneak out to watch the USA baseball team play and he was just one of the crowd there.
THE LAST BANNER - The Story of the 1985-86 Celtics, The NBA’s Greatest Team of All Time by Peter May, Simon & Schuster; 1996.
Whether the 1985-86 Boston Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time is certainly debatable, but there is little doubt they were the best of a long line of outstanding Celtic squads. May argues in this book that although Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge formed a potent starting five, it was the bench, led by Bill Walton, that lifted the team to elite status. As for the team's place in history, he contends "they played at a time when the competition was never better and the game was not yet contaminated by the ravages of expansion." How such a group of talented players came to be assembled and blended in a cohesive unit makes for a very interesting read.
THE BIG THREE by Peter May, Simon & Schuster, New York; 1994.
The Boston Celtic front line of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish dominated the National Basketball Association with three championships in five years in the early 1980s. Where in The Last Banner, May concentrates on that 1986 team and how it was assembled, in this book, he examines each of the Big Three's careers from youth through college and into their NBA years. Though he relies to a great extent on game accounts and basketball anecdotes, May tries to probe beneath the surface. Not only does he reveal the private side of each player's personality, he also examines why they were able to work so well as a unit.
DRIVE - THE STORY OF MY LIFE by Larry Bird with Bob Ryan; Doubleday, New York; 1989.
Celtic Legend, Larry Bird, tells the story of his life, growing up in French Lick, the suicide of his father, his brief marriage he discusses his teammates and tells basketball anecdotes in the process. This book gives you a look into the private Larry Bird that you rarely see in the media or in the spotlight.
THE BIRD ERA - A HISTORY OF THE BOSTON CELTICS 1978-1988 by Bob Schron and Kevin Stevens; Quinlan Press, Boston, MA; 1988.
This is a great book that gives a behind the scenes look at the Celtics during the years that Larry Bird took to the court as a Celtic, including the three championships won during that time. There are great insights into the building of the 3 championship teams of that era as well as the interactions between the players and coaches on those teams.
REGGIE LEWIS - QUIET GRACE by Craig Windham; ACTEX Publications, Winsted, CT; 1995.
We are just days after the anniversary of one of the saddest days in Celtics history. Reggie Lewis was the Celtics' captain and beloved by Celtics fans and his loss was a devastating blow to the team and to the fans. This book has a positive,inspiring message, especially for young people (and not just basketball fans). Reggie was not overly-talented, but he made the most of the gifts he had. "Quiet Grace" is a wonderful account of his life, from his boyhood in Baltimore to his stardom with the Boston Celtics. It also includes an interesting photo album section. And "Quiet Grace" lays to rest the rumors surrounding Reggie's tragic death. This is an excellent, book that everyone should read.
HIGH ABOVE COURTSIDE – The lost Memoirs of Johnny Most by Mike Carey with Jamie Most, Sports Publishing LLC; 2003.
If you think Tommy Heinsohn is the biggest Celtics homer, you never listened to Johnny Most. To listen to Johnny was to love him. Every opposing player was the enemy and every Celtic was a saint. This book is a tribute and a memoir of one of the great figures in Celtics History. Who can ever forget the call... "Havilchek stole the ball! Havilchek stole the ball! It's all over!!" Johnny's story will give you a look at the life of a great man who absolutely loved the Celtics.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - On and Off the Court with the 1990-91 Boston Celtics by Jack McCallum; Summit Books, New York; 1992.
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. One story tells that instead of having veterans against kids or green/white teams in practice, they used to play blacks against whites. A very interesting read. This is the year I got to see the Celtics in person and so for that reason, this season is special to me, in spite of the fact that they didn't win a championship.
Boston Celtics: Where Have You Gone? Sports Publishing, 2005
This is a very fascinating book. Instead of focusing on Celtics history, a particular team, or player, this book follows through with former Celtics and where they are now. The authors bring back the former Celtics for an encore, whether they played a full career as Robert Parish, or had, in the case of Glenn McDonald, had just 2 minutes of fame. The authors interview Nate Archibald, Bill Sharman, High Henry Finkel, Robert Parish, Marvin Barnes, and many more. The author of this book, Michael D. McClellan runs Celtic Nation, a really great blog that has quality articles and should be a must read for Celtics fans, along with this fascinating book.
Ever Green The Boston Celtics: A History in the Words of Their Players, Coaches, Fans and Foes, from 1946 to the Present by Dan Shaughnessy, 1991
I've gone back to this book and re-read it twice because it is just so good. Ever Green captures in words and vintage photos the special mystique of basketball's greatest dynasty and celebrated the forty-five years that the team had been in existence at the time of the book's writing. Ever Green recounts the complete story of the Celtics, from the troubled early years through their amazing string of championships to the triumphs--and low moments--of the 1970s and 80s. Dan Shaughnessy records the team's history in the words of everyone from its stars and coaches to the beloved benchwarmers, the Celtic fans, and rival players. Those interviewed include Bob Cousy, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, M.L. Carr, Gene Conley, Hank Finkel, Kevin Mchale, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, and Red Auerbach plus a host of rivals, fans and the media.
Although it's not a book about the Celtics, I'd also recommend that you read Personal Foul by Tim Donaghy. It's a look inside the NBA that every fan should know about.
Jackie Mac's book on Bird and Magic was a good read also. There are many more I ran out of time to list. I may do another post a bit later to catch those. Like 2 books from Heinsohn that are excellent and really funny. Red has a couple more books out that are good. Bill Russell have a couple. There's also one that gives another perspective called the Selling of the Green that is from a Knicks fan/anti Celtic point of view that is interesting to read. So many good bookx out there.
Yeah, now that I think of it, I'll have to do another post sometime. Tommy's books have some really funny anecdotes in them. Well worth reading. Russell's give a better understanding of the race problems the black players had to go through in the earlier years of the league. As far as information, the book I'm reading now, which is in encyclopedic form is really good. I'm looking forward to reading ML Carr's book next. Mike McClelland is coming out with a new book in Nov, I think which I'm looking forward to. So much to read, so little time LOL