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Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friendby Bill Russell
Synopses & Reviews
When Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics in 1957 as the nation′s first prominent black basketball star, he was not expecting much from coach Red Auerbach. Despite two national college championships and an Olympic gold medal, Russell′s previous coaches-all whites-had barely spoken to him. Russell′s style was unorthodox, redefining the meaning of defense and offense, and many scouts dismissed him.
Yet Auerbach, the Jewish outsider in Irish Boston, immediately took to Russell, the African American from Louisiana and Oakland, and he was a coach like no other. Auerbach listened to his players, experimented freely, and knit together a team based only on results. Together they made sports history, winning 11 championships in 13 years. Along the way, Auerbach elevated Russell to player-coach, the first African-American coach in league history. Together, they battled prejudice both on and off the court, and created a team chemistry for the ages.
Even this glory is surpassed by another, little known aspect of their relationship: they became lifelong friends. As Russell explains, they were prepared for each other by their fathers, both strong men who loved their sons unconditionally. They both intuitively understood the dynamics of male friendship: there are many things left unsaid, but there is always understanding and respect. Over the many years since Russell retired from the Celtics and moved to the west coast, they saw each other rarely but spoke on the phone regularly. They were always there for each other. As Auerbach fell ill and declined, Russell was there, knowing how to reach out while respecting his former coach′s privacy. When Auerbach passed away in October, 2006, Russell refused to speak publicly about a relationship that was so deeply personal. Here, he offers a tribute greater than any speech.
This is a book not just for sports lovers, not just for fathers and sons, but for male friendships of all shapes and sizes.
In the tradition of "Big Russ and Me," basketball legend Russell pays homage to his mentor, coach, and long-time friend, the inimitable Red Auerbach. Photo insert.
Red Auerbach, one of the greatest coaches in sports history, died on October 28, 2006. Bill Russell, the five-time MVP and star center on the Auerbach teams that won eleven championships in thirteen years, said little in public at the time. His relationship with his coach had been so deeply personal that he could not express it with a brief comment.
In fact, little known to the public, Auerbach and Russell--one a short, brash Jew from Brooklyn, the other a tall, intense African-American from Louisiana and Oakland--were far more than just coach and player. Through thirteen years of building a sports dynasty together, one that remains among the greatest of all time, their relationship evolved into a rare, telling example of deep male friendship: confident, supportive, understanding, founded in common goals, even as their feelings remained largely unspoken. They stayed close for the rest of Auerbach's life, despite physical distance and far fewer chances to be together. True male friends are always there for each other, whenever the need or occasion arises.
Red and Me is an extraordinary book: an homage to a peerless coach, showing how he produced results unlike any other; an inspiring story of mutual success, in which each man gave his all, and gained back even more; above all, it may be the best depiction of male friendship ever put on the page. Who would have guessed that such different men could have become such a tightly bonded pair? Few did guess it. Now Russell tells it.
About the Author
Five-time NBA MVP and twelve-time All-Star, Bill Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships. As a major league coach, Russell won two additional championships—the first African-American to do so. He is considered the father of the modern pro game and one of the most significant Americans of the twentieth century in sports. His three previous books include the national bestseller Russell Rules.
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