"TALL TALES: The Glory Years of the NBA, in the Words of the Men Who Played Coached and Built Pro Basketball" by Terry Pluto

"TALL TALES: The Glory Years of the NBA, in the Words of the Men Who Played Coached and Built Pro Basketball"

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Like his lively look at the American Basketball Association (Loose Balls, 1990), this freewheeling and informative oral history from Pluto (basketball writer for the Akron Beacon Journal) provides an informal venue for players, coaches, and founders--this time of the National Basketball Association--to tell the story of their league's early years. In the NBA's early days--prior to the advent of the 24-second clock (instituted in 1954)--the game was dominated by ex-G.I.s, many of whom ""had more eyes than teeth"" and showed ""a definite hockey influence,"" with the emphasis on ""beer and fighting"" (One early New York-Baltimore battle featured 100 personal fouls, despite lax rules.) Here, like a fan sitting around listening to the old pros talk about the good old days, Pluto gathers memories and groups them under headings like ""Beginnings,"" ""Boston Before Russell,"" and ""Wilt and the Warriors."" The story unfolds in rough chronological sequence. Heard from are players like Dolph Schayes, the ""original Larry Bird""; Had Rod Hundley, the league's first showboat; Bob Pettit, who scored over 20,000 points, 6,000 of them from the foul line; the incredible Bob Cousy, who at 6'1"" was the Celtics' first step toward dynasty; and the legendary Elgin Baylor, a ten-time All Star with ""more moves than a clock."" ""The Class of 1960""--perhaps the most interesting chapter here--looks at draftees Lenny Wilkens, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West. There are extensive quotes from Wilt Chamberlain but, surprisingly, Pluto hasn't a word from Bill Rusell, perhaps the major force in the history of the game. Others, like officials Sid Borgia and Earl Strom, coaches Red Auerbach and Alex Hannum, and owners such as the late Danny Biasone and volatile Ben Kerner of the old St. Louis Hawks, provide their own unique perspectives--and prejudices. An enjoyable and important contribution to sports history.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster