On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love"
Harvey Frommer's Sports Book Review
"Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I
Love," By Larry Bird with Jackie MacMullan, Warner, 297 pages,
$24.95) is not your standard sports star "and then I did this . . .
" kind of book.
It is much more controversial and interesting than one
would think. Larry played the game flat out, no holds barred, always with
a glare in his eyes. His new book is a bit like that. It seems everyone
gets the Bird glare - and some don't get off too easy.
His "hit list" includes but is not limited to
- Rick Pitino, Red Auerbach, Paul Gaston, the owner, and old teammates M.L.
Carr and Kevin McHale.
On Rick Pitino: "The one thing I did find
unbelievable was how Pitino kept telling the media the only way he'd take
the job was if I stayed with the Celtics,'' Bird writes. ``He knew that
was never going to happen, because I told him that. He made it sound like
he wanted me to be the general manager or something, which I never would
have agreed to anyway."
On Gaston: "I knew my days with the Celtics were
over when I told our owner that Sherman Douglas was the most valuable guy
on our team, and then he traded him a month later. I think Gaston had
trouble looking at me as anything except a former superstar, like some
kind of figurehead.''
On M.L. Carr: "I was getting more and more
frustrated, because Paul Gaston and my old teammate M.L. would ask my
advice about certain personnel moves, then turn around and do whatever
On Red Auerbach: There was a newspaper remark where Bird
jokingly said that he and Red couldn't agree on anything. Auerbach
allegedly remains upset over that to this day. ``I don't understand
exactly what happened between me and Red," Bird points out. "If
Red's ticked off at me, that's fine. . . But I think there's mutual
respect there, even if we never talk again for the rest of our lives.''
On Kevin McHale: A newspaper article in Bird's last
season claimed the Celtics were a divided team and that he was essentially
selfish. Two unnamed sources were mentioned who turned out to be his
former teammates Jim Paxson and McHale.
``I've always thought the world of Kevin McHale - I
still do - but I was so hurt he would say something so cheap like that.
But I always knew Kevin could be one of those guys. Whenever I see Kevin
we say hello and all that, but it has never really quite been the same.''
From the old Celtic days, only Dave Gavitt, the former
Providence College coach and founder of the Big East Conference, escapes
According to Bird, Gavitt was very creative, was filled
with visions about restoring the Celtics' glory days. That was the main
reason Bird agreed to move into the front office when he retired as a
player. ... Officially, Gavitt resigned, but the Celtics kind of forced
Although there is plenty of Bird bashing in "Bird
Watching, there are also insightful and entertaining chapters on Larry's
coaching philosophy, on team dynamics, on Jordan, Magic and him.
Regarding the NBA today, Bird says: "To me, the NBA
has become the MTV league...There's more hype than there is game."
If you're a basketball fan, pick up a copy of the book.
It's well worth reading.
Book Ends: "The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean
Smith" by Dean Smith and David Chadwick, Total/Sports Illustrated
Publishers, $23.95, 206pp) is a combination of sports, business and
motivation. Smith won 879 games at the University of North Carolina using
aspects of the principles he discusses in this informative and thoughtful
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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