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I am an avid reader and always have a book on the Celtics or on Celtics history going at any given time.  The Celtics are such a storied franchise that there is no shortage of books out there to read about former and current players and about the franchise itself.  I am excited to be joining Celtics Life as a full time author and feel that, given my love of reading and my discussions about Celtics books with JR,  it is fitting that my first post would be about one of the books that I have read about the Celtics and that I highly recommend to other fans.

One of the best books out there is LET ME TELL YOU A STORY by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein, Little, Brown and Company; 2004.

In more than 50 years with the Celtics, Red Auerbach collected countless friends, admirers and stories. At 86, when he penned this book with author John Feinstein,  he had forgotten nothing and also had an opinion on everything. Every Tuesday morning at 11,  Red held court with a dozen or so cronies at the China Doll restaurant on H Street in Washington. For four years, bestselling author John Feinstein  joined this select group.   In the book, Red voices lots of opinions about the game of basketball, as it's played today and as it was played in his prime. He also has plenty to say about both Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, and he discusses his Depression-era youth and early years as a coach.  Many of Red's stories are familiar, but hearing the first-person versions is a treat. This book is a fascinating life story and a terrific basketball book and a look into the historic lunches that only a select few were privy to.
Here is an excerpt of the book describing Feinstein's first lunch at the China Doll to whet your appetite for this incredible look into Red's world.  
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'll share more of the books that I have read in another post but this book is so special that I felt it deserved its own post.   If you are like most basketball fans and feeling withdrawals in this long stretch of time between Summer League and training camp,  a great way to pass the time would be to get a copy of  Let Me Tell You a Story and enjoy a look into one of the greatest basketball minds in the history of the game. 
[Don't forget to check out the CG Forums!]

FLCeltsFan 7/26/2010 02:04:00 PM Edit
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5 Responses so far.

  1. Phil says:

    I love that book and I miss Red.

  2. Bohemian says:

    Welcome to Celticslife! :) I really need to read that book, I will look for it during the summer

  3. tb727 says:

    Great report FL! I sometimes wonder if Red was that wise or whether all the other GMs at the time resembled Chris Wallace lol. I know for awhile teams were very reluctant to make ANY deals with the Celtics because of Red's mastery.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What other Celtics books do you recommend?

  5. I'll be posting a series of reports on my favorites along with a list of others that I recommend throughout the week. So, stay tuned.

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