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Basketball star Bill Russell and Alan Steinberg team up to tell the story of Russell's professional relationship and friendship with his coach, Red Auerbach. Russell's first-person perspective of this unlikely relationship will not only provide the listener with a glimpse of the social climate of the 1950s and ‘60s, but also with a lesson in how two people who come from distinctly separate backgrounds can be alike in many ways. Peter Jay Fernandez effectively utilizes his smooth-as-glass voice to provide listeners with an experience that they surely will not forget anytime soon. Fernandez's eloquent delivery will have listeners savoring every syllable of this audiobook.
In fact, little known to the public, Auerbach and Russell - one a short, brash Jew from Brooklyn, the other a tall, intense African-American from Louisiana and Oakland - were far more than just coach and player. Through 13 years of building a sports dynasty together, one that remains among the greatest of all time, their relationship evolved into a rare, telling example of deep male friendship: confident, supportive, understanding, founded in common goals, even as their feelings remained largely unspoken. They stayed close for the rest of Auerbach's life, despite physical distance and far fewer chances to be together. True male friends are always there for each other, whenever the need or occasion arises.
Red and Me is an extraordinary book: an homage to a peerless coach, showing how he produced results unlike any other; an inspiring story of mutual success, in which each man gave his all, and gained back even more; above all, it may be the best depiction of male friendship ever put on the page. Who would have guessed that such different men could have become such a tightly bonded pair? Few did guess it. Now Russell tells it.
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- Ben Miller
An awesome story of Very respectable people
I love this listen. Great story, not only as a Celtics fan, but as someone that admires what these men accomplished on and off the court.
You don't hate be a Celtics fan to appreciate the story, but if you weren't before you give it a try, you maybe after ☘
- Greg Carter
Why Did Sanitize This Version?
In general, Mr Russell’s premise for this book is that he and Coach Auerbach deeply respected and appreciated each other from the first day they met. They also achieved everything that anyone could ever hope to achieve on a basketball court when they worked together with the Celtics. Unfortunately, that lack of conflict doesn’t lead to a very compelling narrative. I left this book looking forward to reading a more journalistic history of the Boston dynasty.
What is puzzling is that Mr Russell has told many of these stories before in interviews or in other books, and in previous narratives, the stakes are higher and the images are more graphic. This has the time of a history written for youth.
For instance, in “Red & Me”, Mr Russell rather comically tells how he scared off racists who had vandalized his home in the town of Reading Mass. He says the local police told him that his garbage cans were probably knocked over by raccoons, and the raccoons were smart enough to stop bothering him once he applied for s as gun permit at the town hall.
In an earlier telling of the same story, Mr Russell explained that racial epithets were written in excrement on the walls INSIDE his house—the same house where his wife and daughter lived alone when he was playing ball on the road. I have no idea why he includes that story in this book and takes the horror out of it. It’s hard to believe that his relationship with Coach Auerbach wasn’t effected by the pain of these racist attacks that threatened his family’s safety. There is also no mention of any thought of leaving Boston for a less segregated community. It’s understood that Coach Auerbach (and owner Walter Brown) were notably anti-racist which was
not common in the NBA, yet they couldn’t control the racism of their fans.
Likewise, Mr Russell describes Coach Red as a basketball genius because the Celtics won 11 championships, but the most specific stories he related are all about Auerbach letting Russell do whatever he thinks will be most successful. The problem is that in the same book, Russell demonizes his college and olympic coaches for not understanding his basketball talents. But those teams also won championships. One could read this and think that any coach of Bill Russell’s was bound to win no matter how they behaved—because in fact, they did.
I wish “Red & Me” had presented instances of failure—most people learn more from failure than success. In truth, the Celtics were a last place team during a period in the 70s when Auerbach was still general manager. He brought in highly questionable players and they under performed. Likewise, Russell had some success as a coach away from Boston, but he was also fired from at least one job. Nothing from this period is mentioned and it would’ve been valuable to know how these great men supported each other when times were hard.
A Great Walk Through Basketball History
I'm a basketball fan, but even if I weren't, I would have still enjoyed this audio book as much as the most ardent fan.
The only missing is that it would have been even better if we could have enjoyed Bill Russell's one of a kind voice throughout the book.
Very good read for everyone!