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The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game [Hardcover]

Oscar Robertson

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Book Description

Nov 2003
Perhaps the greatest all-around player in basketball history, Oscar Robertson revolutionized basketball as a member of the Cincinnati Royals and won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks. When he was twenty-three, in 1962, he accomplished one of basketball's most impressive feats: averaging the triple-double in a single season---a feat never matched since. Co-captain of the Olympic gold medal team of 1960; named the player of the century by the National Association of Basketball Coaches; named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history; and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980---Robertson's accolades are as numerous as they are impressive. But The Big O is also the story of a shy black child from a poor family in a segregated city; of the superstar who, at the height of his career, became the president of the National Basketball Players Association to try to improve conditions for all players. It is the story of the man forced from the game at thirty-four and blacklisted from coaching and broadcasting. But two years after he left basketball, after six years of legal wrangling, Robertson won his lawsuit against the NBA, eliminating the option clause that bound a player to a single NBA team in perpetuity and ending restrictions on free agency. The Big O is the story of how the NBA, as we now know it, was built; of race in America in the second half of the twentieth century; and of an uncompromising man and a complex hero.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Press (Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579547648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579547646
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.9 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,535,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A well-written, entertaining, and thought-provoking sports autobiographyobut would we ever expect less than a triple-double from the Big O?" Wes Lukowsky Booklist "Oscar Robertson is an incomparable superstar. He is also a thoughtful man and a man of vision. If you want insight into what formed Oscar in the crucial years of his youth, look here. It's a great book." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar "As one of the nba's all-time greats, Oscar Robertson has much to pass on to both his old fans and young basketball enthusiasts perhaps unfamiliar with his legacy." Publishers Weekly "Oscar was one of basketball's great leaders, and his life is one of basketball's great stories. He was unafraid, unabashed, and unmatched in everything he did. There will never be another like him." Bill Russell --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Oscar Robertson, seen by many as one of the best and most versatile basketball players of his time, played in the NBA for the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks during his fourteen-year professional basketball career. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Class Man and Player 20 Feb 2004
By R. Spell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At 50 I'm a little young to have followed Oscar Robertson's career other than the Milwaukee Bucks period. I have run into Robertson at Cincinnati ballgames and hotels when in the city although have not spoken to him. This is a biography written in typical form, "Here's what I did growing up, here's the influence of my parents and others, here's what I did that you know me for and here's what I'm doing now." But the difference is Oscar really has something to say and he's rattled a few cages saying it.
While many people come from poor backgrounds, particularly basketball players, Oscar's is particularly interesting due to the very rural nature of his upbringing in Tennessee. Most of his early life was centered on working in fields, church and family. A move to inner city Indianapolis was significant in his development as a basketball player. And this is where the book becomes very interesting as Oscar conveys the first noticeable slights from racism. Oscar has always been very well mannered projecting a great image. And maybe in many ways this hid the hurt he was feeling from racism or maybe I was just too young to hear about it.
After rising to a top star, Robertson commits to a smaller school, U of Cincinatti, amid rumblings of improper recruiting. He dispels most of this and introduces boosters or mentors who took his best interests at heart and helped him grow as a man. He also meets his wife who he describes in glowing terms, clearly a very strong marriage that eventually yields two daughters. This is another interesting part of the book as one of his daughters suffers from a disease requiring an organ transplant.
Robertson starts his pro career in his hometown of Cincinnati with an under funded team which creates conflicts throughout his career there as money and a good supporting cast is always short. Discussing his pro career you can really see his bitterness with the pre-free agent market and how he had to fight for his money and was often blamed for putting himself above his team. This for a man that averaged a triple-double. If you follow the NBA today, you will almost find the numbers thrown around as comical.
Clearly, this book has generated controversy as Robertson has alluded to racism throughout the book. While it didn't match the impression I had of Robertson, I found he supported his positions well even though you may not agree with the outcome.
Overall, I found this to be an excellent book of a basketball icon in the late 50s to 70s. If you have interest in sports in those periods, life in America in those periods, or a short view of race relations at that time, I think you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts Good but too much Editorializing 26 Sep 2005
By Michael J. Lyon - Published on
As a younger person who was not alive during the era that Oscar Robertson was alive I thought this would give me a good idea of what things were like back in the 60s and 70s. Although I particularly enjoyed the information of his early years including what it was like growing up and playing at the Dust Bowl and winning the Indiana State Championship, I felt that his continued effort to slam his opinions down your throat got tiresome.

I think most people understand that he was a good basketball player and also that racism was a very real subject he had to (has to?) deal with everyday. However, hearing him tell you how all the players in the 60s were better than conterperary players just sounds like an old man trying to make you feel sorry for him. Also, throughout the book you feel as if he thinks everyone was out to get him and in turn he had never done anything wrong. He was a great player and had amazing statisitcs every game and so that must mean that the reason he didn't win in Cincinatti was always some other person's fault.

I enjoyed the book but would only recommend this to die hard Oscar Robertson fans and people who can handle being spoonfed (over and over again..) one person's opinions about things that do come across as very arrogent, bitter and perhaps one sided.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Using basketball as an agent of change! 13 Dec 2005
By Norman Jones - Published on
Oscar Robertson tells it like it was as this book is as much about racism as it is about basketball. I played briefly against Oscar and we were both raised in the hot bed of Indiana basketball. Trying to become an accomplished player was one thing and dealing with discrimination back in the 1950s was quite another. Oscar tries to paint a picture for the reader showing what it was like to muster enough courage to play while being discriminated against. He performed brilliantly despite the bigotry, hatred and prejudice and , perhaps unknowingly to him at the time, used basketball as an instrument of change just as Jackie Robinson used baseball before him.

Oscar Robertson's book, The Big O should be looked upon not only as a sports book, but as a history book. If readers would like to add to their understanding of the trials and tribulations players went through in the Golden Era of Indiana basketball they might also enjoy my just published book titled Growing Up in Indiana: The Culture & Hoosier Hysteria Revisited.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a worthwhile read 24 Dec 2003
By An avid reader - Published on
I was a big fan of the Big O growing up. He was the most complete player on the basketball court. This book is very well written and well rounded, covering his triumphs and conflicts during the racially charged 50's and 60's. I highly recommned it, as it discusses college and professional basketball history extremely well - particularly the seminal period of the NBA in the 60's which I now only vaguley remember - but also discusses the societal environment in which the Big O' incredible career took place.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I usually don't trust athletes 6 Mar 2008
By Mark M - Published on
I usually don't trust athletes to tell their own story well, especially the unsavory parts, but I read this anyway. And while their is not much for Oscar to hide, his experiences growing up in a racially divided town and state, and his experiences in college with racism, is fascinating, especially how his team intertwined with the famous small town, all white team of "Hoosiers" movie fame. Pro ball is about 8th on my list of sports to watch, but this is an engrossing book and story about a player many consider the best all around player ever.
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