Thorough but uninspired history of Boston's famed basketball team. At least Shaughnessy, a sportswriter for the Boston Globe, has no bones to pick with his local favorites. He lauds the Celtics as ""the New York Yankees of basketball"" and ""the best pressure team in the history of sports""; as for the players, Bob Cousy was ""the greatest ball handler of all time,"" while Bill Russell scores as ""the greatest player in the history of the NBA."" Whatever truth lies in these evaluations can be laid at the feet of Red Auerbach, the team's longtime coach, general manager, and guiding spirit (""Auerbach was lucky and good,"" coos Shaughnessy). Shanghnessy lays out the essentials on Red--his brilliant trades, bad driving, love of cigars and letter openers. He does the same for Cousy, Russell, Larry Bird, Tommy Heinsohn, Dave Cowens, and other Celtics giants, but with no more depth than one finds in a daily sports column. The hyperbole seems forced (of Russell: ""he had a chip on his shoulder--a chip the size of Rhode Island""), the analysis colored toward the Green. Quite often, however, Shaughnessy steps aside and lets others, from Celtics sportscaster Johnny Most to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, talk about their beloved men in green. Then, although cliches and truisms fly free, we get firsthand accounts from the trenches, a useful resource. For Celtics fans, manna from heaven; for general sports buffs, a handy history; for the public at large, take it or leave it.