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Cousy: His Life, Career, and the Birth of Big-Time Basketball Mass Market Paperback – 31 Jan 2006

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Mass Market Paperback, 31 Jan 2006
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Product Description


"An insightful biography...[and] a shining history of the early NBA."

-- "Kirkus Reviews"

"A sharp, well-written portrait of a Boston sports icon and his pivotal role in the growth of his team and his game."

-- "Boston Herald"

"[An] astute, insightful biography."

-- "Sports Illustrated" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bill Reynolds, coauthor of Success Is a Choice with Rick Pitino, has won numerous awards for his columns in The Providence Journal. The author of several books, including Fall River Dreams and Glory Days, he lives in Providence, Rhode Island. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x928832e8) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9293ac3c) out of 5 stars An Early Superstar From the NBA's Beginnings 24 Jun. 2005
By Bill Emblom - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You can be either a casual or even a non-fan of professional basketball and still enjoy Bill Reynolds's book on Bob Cousy. He will take you back to a time in the late 1940's and early 1950's when professional basketball was merely a filler sport between football and baseball. I feel the book is really two stories told in one book, the life of Bob Cousy and the role he played in professional basketball's beginnings and also the birth of the struggling NBA when they played in minor league cities such as Syracuse, New York, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is also the story of early NBA superstars from other teams such as George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers, Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks, and Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals. Cousy also tells of his childhood insecurities while growing up in New York City, his decision to attend Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, after playing only one and one half years of high school basketball, and how he became a Boston Celtic when coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach preferred to have two other players which were chosen in a dispersal draft. The Celtics weren't able to become the NBA champs until they added Bill Russell, a big man to play center. How the Celtics managed to draft Russell with the third pick is an interesting story in itself. NBA fan or not! Boston Celtic fan or not! You will enjoy this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93281bac) out of 5 stars A solid biography 1 Sept. 2005
By Judd Vance - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Reynolds tells a wonderful story about an interesting person. Initially, the story was supposed to be about the pioneering era of basketball, but he decided since Cousy was such a focal point on this era and professional basketball's climb to greatness, that he would write about Cousy himself. Cousy, a private man, agreed through mutual acquaintances to go along and provided information and interviews.

The story starts with Cousy's young life during the depression in a New York ghetto, and his life in a dysfunctional home. He used basketball as a means of acceptance and eventually as a means to greatness. Ironically, he was cut by his high school team in his freshman and sophomore seasons, which drove him and spurred on his killer instinct. When he made the team, he went on to become the captain of the all-city team.

Then, Reynolds describes how Cousy picked Holy Cross for his college education, and how, contrary to the myth, he did not "lead" Holy Cross to the NCAA Championship his first year. He goes through his spats with his first head coach in college "Doggie Julian", and his great respect for his successor, "Buster" Sheary. He also covers how Cousy wound up on a Boston Celtics team that didn't want him and how legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach took jabs in the press at Cousy, so that he would know who was in charge, despite the press' love of Cousy.

He goes through the hard years of success without championships and then the great championship run that came after the Celtics drafted Bill Russell. He also covers Cousy's business ventures off of the court and his life after basketball.

What sets this book apart from a simple factoid book of the 1950s was how Reynolds digs past the surface to show how Cousy's upbringing created an irrational fear of failure and an unhealthy competitive streak that Cousy had to learn to deal with throughout his life. Depsite his success, Cousy was in many ways a tortured soul, feeling like he had to do all he could to provide for his family, yet regretting the time he spent away from home and the sleepwalking and nervousness he felt as he went through his career, trying to satisfy his competitive urges.

Why 4 stars? I rate basketball books agaisnt each other. 5 stars is the top 1/5 of books. This is a very good book, and 4 stars is a high compliment.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93696b28) out of 5 stars A Story from Long Ago When the World Was Simpler 21 Mar. 2005
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
With all the hype, with all the publicity from the NBA in the past forty years or so, it's mainly us old types who remember. Especially us old types who lived in Boston. The Celtics were like the Yankees of baseball, the Green Bay Packers of football. And the Celtics were Cousy and Russell.

This book does a supurb job of talking about professional (and college) basketball as it changed in the fifties from a dream to a main line professional sport. He picked the right character to use as the centerpiece of the story. Bob Cousy was everything the sport needed, a superstar player, a solid family man when that was one of the things expected from a professional athelete, unassuming but with a killer instinct to win.

This was a time when at 6' 2" Cousy could be a superstar, and there was never any question of anything like the drug mess that is currently hitting baseball. Perhaps life was simpler then, although there was the fear of the Soviet Union and nuclear war, and Bob Cousy was the perfect man for the time. Wonderful book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93ff5054) out of 5 stars Completely unaffected 29 Aug. 2006
By Cloie - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It may be that you've got to be at least 50 years old to appreciate this book fully. Why? Because Cousy reflects on a game that doesn't exist anymore. It was a time when people did not take three steps to the basket, when palming the ball was a turnover, and when good sportsmanship was the standard. It was also a time, and this is what is so hard to believe, when a guy like Cousy, who came along just in time to save the financially failing NBA, worried each and every year about making the team. It was a time when a hard nosed Red Auerbach, who didn't even want Cousy because he thought him a showoff, coupled Cousy's playmaking with Russell's defense to make a team, the only team in fact, that dominated its sport as the Yankees did in baseball. Cousy was Auerbach's first big hitter, and despite his success as a player, coach and university president, Cousy remains humble, reflective, and self effacing. Cousy is a we guy, not an I guy. Refreshing.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93ff52b8) out of 5 stars How Basketball Has Changed 23 April 2005
By Donald Mitchell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I started attending Celtics games just after Bob Cousy retired as a player. Naturally, I had seen many of his playoff games on television but the game looks much different in the arena than on the small screen. Having listened to his many road broadcasts over the years, I felt I knew a lot about his philosophy of basketball. For me the potential appeal of this book was to understand how he became the great offensive innovator who helped establish classic Celtics fast break and passing basketball.

I found the answer to my question in Cousy's difficult early years, growing up poor in a family where his parents didn't get along and where coaches assessed by his size rather than the size of his heart. From those hardscrabble beginnings, Cousy developed a fundamental insecurity that meant that winning wasn't a desire, it was the only state of being that was acceptable to his perfectionist self. But that psychological need was balanced by a strong identification with the underdog and the oppressed . . . even if he wasn't always sensitive enough to act on those feelings as often as he could have. I enjoyed that part of the book very much.

But the bulk of the book is really about how professional basketball went from being a minor attraction beneath both the college game and the Harlem Globetrotters into today's massive and profitable business for the players. Having grown up with that transition, I found the book to be a pretty superficial rehash of what I already knew. I didn't enjoy that part of the book very much. But if you are under the age of 25, this material will be new to you, and you will probably find it to be interesting. You will probably rate the book higher than I did as a result.

The book's other weakness is that it is rather like a career highlight video . . . just visiting the high spots of Cousy's life. For someone who wants to know more, you'll have to read another book.
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