SEEING RED by Dan Shaughnessy

SEEING RED

The Red Auerbach Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another work of Boston sports hagiography from one of the jock beat's leading home teamers. For nearly 40 years, Arnold ``Red'' Auerbach ran the show, trademark cigar in hand, for the emerald-clad Boston Celtics. Serving as coach from 1950 to 1966, then as general manager and unopposed despot until 1990 or so (he is still on the payroll as a consultant), Red guided the Hub's beloved Jolly Green Giants to 16 NBA championships, including an amazing streak of titles running from 195966. So successful was the team that Auerbach's effective coaching and astute talent assessment--he acquired many of the game's greatest players, including Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, and Larry Bird (who wrote the book's foreword)--were dismissed by foes as ``The Celtics Mystique.'' During Red's time at the top, the NBA grew from a barnstorming curiosity to a multi- billion-dollar global enterprise, and it would be hard to overstate his influence on the game--but Shaughnessy (The Curse of the Bambino, 1990) very nearly succeeds. While he does show Auerbach's cantankerous and occasionally pig-headed side, the author essentially presents to readers little more than a mash note loaded with anecdotes about Red's cigar-chompin', ref-baitin', hell- drivin' virtuosity. Not merely a great x's and o's guy (the NBA annually presents the Red Auerbach award to its outstanding coach), he is in Shaughnessy's presentation basketball's Moses, the man who led the game out of darkness. Non-Celtics fans might want to skim many passages to get to the parts where Red sagely catalogues the game's changes--for example, his observation that ballplayers ``used to come to practice with gym bags; now they come with attachÇ cases.'' At 77, Red has slowed a bit: He's no longer the preeminent judge of talent, and he's down to two or three stogies a day. But as long as guys like Shaughnessy can hold a pen, it's always Red's game; anyone else just came to play. (8 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1994
ISBN: 0-517-59680-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1994