I felt extremely fortunate that I was able to find this at a used book store for only 1 dollar. I have always admired Red Auerbach for what he was able to accomplish and what he has done for the game of basketball.
The book is titled, "Let Me Tell You a Story" and that's exactly what it is. One big story with a number of stories in between. The author John Feinstein was fortunate enough to be a part of a select group who had lunch with Mr. Auerbach once a week and the way that the stories are told, the reader feels as though they were right there at the table with them.
Auerbach tells a number of stories about how he was able to get Bill Russell, one of the all time greats, by trading him for the ice capades. But that was just one of his many brilliant moves. He describes how he had to be in charge of marketing, coaching, managing and almost everything else one could imagine. People make the argument that he had some of the best players of all time and that's why he was able to win so many championships but it took hard work and smart moves in order to acquire them, and get them to work cohesively as a team. Many of the tactics and principles he used are still in effect today.
One thing Auerbach did extremely well was understand his players. He knew how they were, how they acted and what their tendencies were. He believed in discipline but not at the expense of hurting the entire team such as benching a player for coming late. Instead he believed in fines because that would only affect the player instead of the entire team.
He also knew that cheerleaders and players didn't mix and disallowed cheerleaders for the Celtics. As a result of his techniques, players were more focused on playing the game.
His techniques were a good balance of discipline and allowing players the freedom to be themselves. This balance is missing in today's NBA as players have become so preoccupied with making as much money as possible that they are not focused on playing basketball.
Auerbach even had the power to control the most troublesome players. He cited an example of when he was asked to coach the rookie sophomore game and the notorious Allen Iverson let Auerbach know that it was an honor and pleasure being able to play for him. Iverson would go on to have problems with every organization from then on out.
Auerbach also explains the world famous victory cigar. It was not so much of a victory cigar as it was something that Red did when he felt that the game's outcome had already been decided and he would relax and smoke a cigar. He believed that it was outrageous that there were coaches who would continue to scream and "coach" when a game's outcome was already beyond more than likely. Some might consider it cocky or arrogant to do such a thing but it was really a classy sportsmanlike act.
I could go on and on about the stories told in this book but I think every NBA fan should read this book. There are some people who are able to get and hold attention when they speak and Red was definitely one of them and everyone who met him knew that they were in the presence of greatness, including President Bill Clinton who made Bill Gates wait outside of his office for an hour while he continued to talk to Auerbach.
This is one of two books which I have recently read, the other being Jeff Davis' Papa Bear: The Life and Legacy of George Halas. Both Auerbach and Halas were obviously great coaches but also outstanding CEOs, each building a successful and profitable franchise while playing a key role in a multi-billion dollar professional organization. In this instance, the National Basketball Association. Although generally viewed as a sportswriter, Feinstein has always seemed (to me, at … more
I love basketball, exercise, reading, business, movies and occasionally some brainless reality TV shows =P I am more than happy to help anyone out with anything here on Lunch and definitely looking forward … more
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Every Tuesday for four years, Feinstein, the author of two of the bestselling sports books of all time, A Good Walk Spoiled and A Season on the Brink, played story collector, gathering tales for this, his 16th offering. During those four years, Feinstein lived for the Monday-night phone call that delivered five words to him every week: "Tuesday. Eleven oclock. China Doll." Those words invited him to the most exclusive lunch club in sports, led by legendary Boston Celtics coach Auerbach and frequented by coaches, secret service agents, close friends and Auerbach relatives, as well as by anyone in D.C. lucky enough to receive an invitation. Between bites of Mu-Shu pork and chicken-fried rice, Auerbach and his crew chewed on subjects from politics to womens basketball to todays coaches, and Feinstein jotted it all down. The Feinstein-Auerbach collaboration brings together two of the most sought-after storytellers in sports and gives readers their own invitation into the China Doll club. In more than 50 years with the green and gold, Auerbach collected countless friends, admirers and stories. Now 86, hes forgotten nothing and has an opinion on everything. "I ever tell you how I got to know Joe Dimaggio?" begins chapter three. "I ever tell you how I got thrown out of the all-star game in 1967? About the time I met Clinton and Gore?" These great storytellers make this book so effortless to read that you can almost hear Red reciting each line and smell him ...