Holzman is best remembered for coaching the N.Y. Knicks to their two NBA championships, but his playing career goes back to...

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RED ON RED

Holzman is best remembered for coaching the N.Y. Knicks to their two NBA championships, but his playing career goes back to pro-basketball's ragtag youth in the 1940's, when his Rochester Royals had an auditorium so small that driving lay-ups sent players flying out the back door into a snow bank. Written in retirement, this kindhearted autobiography is amusing but nothing profound. Born in 1920 of East European immigrants, Holzman graduated from Brooklyn schoolyard basketball to be twice-named an All American at CCNY for his tough defense. He served in the Navy in WW II, married Selma, and in 1945 joined the Rochester Royals as a token for their Jewish fans, becoming the league's Rookie of the Year. His playing era (1945-53) saw the evolution of pro-basketball from a small, town sport to a national pastime (the NBA was founded in 1950). A short crack at coaching (1953-56) preceded a decade as the Knicks' scout. In 1967, he became coach and immediately stopped such slack habits as sending the ball boy out to Nedick's to buy players half-time munchies. He drilled the team in tough, pressing defense--the hallmark of the Holzman career--and eliminated one-on-one razzle-dazzle. In 1970, the Knicks became champs; three years later they won again. These glory days have already spawned a library; Holzman adds little new beyond his great affection for the players. As his All Stars grayed and retired, the team sank and Holzman was out in 1977. He enjoyed a brief comeback, but the sport had changed, with its new breed of moody players too distracted by their free-agency value to commit to his selfless team game. Still, no hard feelings; he's a recent inductee to the Hall of Fame. Basketball nostalgia served straight up.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987