SECOND WIND: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man by Bill & Taylor Branch Russell
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SECOND WIND: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lucky for us that Bill Russell was not a ""natural."" He became the great center for the Boston Celtics by observing other players' moves, memorizing them, and then slowly, bit-by-bit, inserting himself into the instant replay on the inside of his eyelids. And these exciting memoirs show the subtle moves that Russell developed by observing his life. The process started when, as a child, he tried to reproduce paintings by Leonardo and Michelangelo from memory. But it was in playing basketball defense that he found that he could invent his own moves and make them real--""They grew out of my imagination and so I saw them as my own."" In college he met fellow Celtic-to-be K. C. Jones, and they discovered that they could extend their imagination to a team concept--exploring the ""geometry of basketball"" and the ""blind spots"" in a player's vision. To Russell, the game is about ""jumping,"" and about the kind of competition that transcends competing; losing didn't matter if a Chamberlain or Baylor helped him reach that intensity. But Russell's style goes beyond sport. His image as a testy individualist resulted from his attempts to define himself in the face of racism and commercialism. He resisted signing autographs, having his number retired, and being inducted into the Hall of Fame: ""My intention was to separate myself from the star's idea about fans and the fan's ideas about stars."" He admired Martin Luther King, but sided with his grandfather: ""Nonviolent is what I am before somebody hits me."" A few of Russell's views are clich‚d (Little League is overorganized), but most are potent and precise--television, he notes, exaggerates the importance of coaches because strategy is a way of involving the viewer. Russell was afraid of leaving the game because he had ignored the rest of his life. He explored women, vegetarianism, life in L.A., and the heights of Mt. Rainier. This book brings it all together.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Random House