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The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball von [Taylor, John]
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The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball Kindle Edition

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Länge: 432 Seiten Word Wise: Aktiviert Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
PageFlip: Aktiviert Sprache: Englisch

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*Starred Review* Few individual rivalries in sports match the legendary mano-a-mano basketball duels between Boston Celtic Bill Russell and the much-traveled Wilt Chamberlain. Russell led his team to 11 championships in 13 seasons, and while Chamberlain's teams won 2 titles, only once was he part of a championship team while Russell was active. Chamberlain became the poster child for individual accomplishment--he scored 100 points in a single game--but Russell, 35 years after his retirement, still epitomizes the ultimate winner, the teammate for the ages. Taylor, author of The Count and the Confession (2002), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, was initially drawn to the subject because, like much of his work, it dealt with the psychology of conflict. But as he interviewed many of those involved on the periphery of his subject--Russell declined to participate and Chamberlain is dead--he realized he had a potentially larger canvas. The rivalry coincided with--and accelerated--the NBA's metamorphosis from a relatively minor league to the media giant it's become today. It also produced two of the most celebrated black sports superstars in the post-Jackie Robinson era and in that context advanced race relations in America. While placing the rivalry in historical context, Taylor shows that Wilt wanted to win every bit as much as Russell but never quite understood, as Russell did, how to sublimate his ego for the betterment of the team. A serious work of sports history, this volume compares favorably with the best works of John Feinstein and David Halberstam on sports. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved



In the mid-1950s, the NBA was a mere barnstorming circuit, with outposts in such cities as Rochester, New York, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Most of the best players were white; the set shot and layup were the sport’s chief offensive weapons. But by the 1970s, the league ruled America’s biggest media markets; contests attracted capacity crowds and national prime-time television audiences. The game was played “above the rim”–and the most marketable of its high-flying stars were black. The credit for this remarkable transformation largely goes to two giants: Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

In The Rivalry, award-winning journalist John Taylor projects the stories of Russell, Chamberlain, and other stars from the NBA’s golden age onto a backdrop of racial tensions and cultural change. Taylor’s electrifying account of two complex men–as well as of a game and a country at a crossroads–is an epic narrative of sports in America during the 1960s.

It’s hard to imagine two characters better suited to leading roles in the NBA saga: Chamberlain was cast as the athletically gifted yet mercurial titan, while Russell played the role of the stalwart centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty. Taylor delves beneath these stereotypes, detailing how the two opposed and complemented each other and how they revolutionized the way the game was played and perceived by fans.

Competing with and against such heroes as Jerry West, Tom Heinsohn, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Elgin Baylor, and playing for the two greatest coaches of the era, Alex Hannum and the fiery Red Auerbach, Chamberlain and Russell propelled the NBA into the spotlight. But their off-court visibility and success–to say nothing of their candor–also inflamed passions along America’s racial and generational fault lines. In many ways, Russell and Chamberlain helped make the NBA and, to some extent, America what they are today.

Filled with dramatic conflicts and some of the great moments in sports history, and building to a thrilling climax–the 1969 final series, the last showdown between Russell and Chamberlain–The Rivalry has at its core a philosophical question: Can determination and a team ethos, embodied by the ultimate team player, Bill Russell, trump sheer talent, embodied by Wilt Chamberlain?

Gripping, insightful, and utterly compelling, the story of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain is the stuff of sporting legend. Written with a reporter’s unerring command of events and a storyteller’s flair, The Rivalry will take its place as one of the classic works of sports history.

From the Hardcover edition.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1105 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 432 Seiten
  • Verlag: Random House (11. Oktober 2005)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) HASH(0x97bb2af8) von 5 Sternen 33 Rezensionen
21 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x97bd3834) von 5 Sternen AN INCREDIBLE READ FROM START TO FINISH 28. Oktober 2005
Von andy behrman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The funny thing about "The Rivalry," is that you don't have to be a huge basketball fan to really enjoy this book. You don't even have to like basketball. Although my dad (a huge basketball fan) gave this book to me (we spent years watching basketball on television and going to Knicks games when I was a kid), and I thought I knew all about Russell and Chamberlain (I didn't!), Taylor has written an amazing book of an important part of sports history. And "The Rivalry" is not just about basketball history, but about competition, winning and "the game." My sister will get the book next!
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x97bd3888) von 5 Sternen A great read, but accuracy is suspect 28. Februar 2010
Von RLM - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This appears to be a thorough, thoughtful examination of the Russell-Chamberlain rivalry and what it did for pro basketball (much as Bird-Magic would do years later), but its sloppiness makes its accuracy on any given anecdote suspect. Given that some of the inaccuracy involves some of the better-known, most easily researched moments -- mistakes that literally jump out for their amatuerishness -- I went from initially being fascinated by Taylor's compilation of behind-the-scenes insights to wondering whether I could trust any of it.

Here are some examples that came to mind as I read The Rivalry:

* Taylor's depiction of one of the most celebrated shots in NBA history, Don Nelson's desperation foul-line set shot that bounced freakishly high off the rim before falling through the net just as the Lakers were making their Game 7 comeback in 1969, is available from many film sources, and yet Taylor gets it all wrong. He say Keith Erickson "blocked a shot" and Nelson "recovered" the ball, when in fact, Erickson clearly reached from behind Havlicek in an attempt to steal the ball and poked it loose. The ball went directly to Nelson's hands some 10 feet away as if it were a pass (yet another freakish twist to the play) -- Nelson didn't "recover" the ball, he had it plop into his open hands like a gift from the basketball gods.

* Taylor correctly depicts Sam Jones' rattling game-winner triple-pick jumper on the "Ohio" play that pulled out Game 4 for the Celtics in the first telling, but later in the book refers to it as having happened in Game 5. Did anyone edit the book or even proof it? This is basic stuff, folks, and if you can't trust the simple things to be accurate, can you trust Taylor's accuracy on the more sophisticated events described in the book?

* For instance, Taylor goes into great detail about the injuries and strategies of both the Celtics and Lakers leading into the 1969 finals, yet leaves out one of the most crucial factors and a pretty well-documented one: Although Havlicek had been the team's famed Sixth Man throughout his career to that point, Russell moved him into the starting lineup for that series because he felt the Celtics needed to get off to faster starts. That, more than anything, may have made the difference in the series because in most of those games the Celtics jumped out to early big leads and put the Lakers in the position of constantly having to play catchup. The psychological implications of this dynamic can't be overstated, as the Lakers (and Wilt, with the exception of 1967) had perpetually lost to the Celtics and to trail early in most of the championship games had to reinforce likely presumptions that once again the Celtics couldn't be beaten.

As I say, these are just simple, obvious things that jumped out as I read -- and things any reasonable student of the game should have gotten right. I'd like to think they're just minor dumb oversights, but I can't help but wonder if the rest of the so-called facts in this book are as dubious.

The book is a good read -- I just don't trust it.
14 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x97bd41ec) von 5 Sternen Great Account of Sports and Social History 25. Oktober 2005
Von Marc Winter - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Rather than reading a biography of Red Auerbach, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, turn to this period book! Here you get everything: a complete portrayal of the situation of African American who were just starting to segregate professional sports outside of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But at the same time it is an introduction to a time, when athletes were not the superstars of today.

On top of that, you get enough biographcal information on Russell and Chamberlain, but also on Cousy, Auerbach and many others.

The book is very well written and starts right with information, no tedious introduction to plough through.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x97bd40a8) von 5 Sternen not quite rivals a great book 14. April 2013
Von John Aquilegia - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
"The Rivalry" recounts the on-court battles between Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, the two greatest basketball centers/players from the Sixties. Bill Russell was the first black superstar in the NBA, and Chamberlain followed him into the league three years later. Chamberlain is regarded by many people as the greatest player of all time and still holds many records. His talent was so great, his teams were expected to win numerous titles. Russell transformed his team, the Boston Celtics, into a powerhouse which won eleven titles in the thirteen years Russell played in the league...a record that has never been approached since. A number of those victories came at the expense of Chamberlain's teams who either lost to the Celtics in the semis or the finals numerous times. There was a reason Russell's Celtics beat Chamberlain's team numerous times...they were usually a better team. But although Wilt's teams only beat the Celtics once in those thirteen years, they came within a whisker four or five times.
As I'm a huge basketball fan (and a huge Chamberlain fan), I saw many of those games when they were televised during that era. Up to and beyond his playing days, Chamberlain has usually been depicted as a statistics-dominated loser whose teams lost because Wilt was a selfish player. The fact is, the Celtics for the first six years of the rivalry were just a better team. But after going over the different seasons and series where the Celtics invariably emerged as champions, it became very apparent to me that although I don't believe in luck, there's no way that era could be repeated with the same players and the Celtics winning that many titles. If repeated, the Celtics probably would have won only six or seven times, which would still be an incredible statistic. The Celtics were good, but they weren't that good. A number of teams in their conference took them to final games in the playoffs only to lose...many times by less than five points. Including Wilt's teams which lost several series by one point. Even Wilt's rookie year, if he hadn't been goaded into punching a Celtic player during a playoff game, his team might have won.
The last five years of the rivalry, Wilt's teams were actually as good or better than Russell's. But a combination of unfortunate injuries, the Celtic mystique (some teams choked against the Celtics), and (yes, I'm going to say it..LUCK!) helped the Celtics win the title four out of those last five years when they shouldn't have won.
So Chamberlain was called a loser despite winning two championships in his career and losing two or three more on flukes.
What I most objected to about this book by Taylor is the fact that he clearly sided with the Red Auerbach definition of Chamberlain. Especially ludicrous was his description of game 7 of the '69 finals when Chamberlain with five minutes to go in the game hurt his leg so bad he had to be taken out to have it worked on. After a minute or two he asked to be put back in the game, and was turned down by his coach, Butch Van Breda Kolff, who despised Wilt. Now this is the same guy, Wilt, who played through the playoffs on very creaky legs that were breaking down. In fact, early in the next season Wilt tore up his knee after only a few weeks of play. He vowed to make it back for the playoffs and lived up to his vow returning in time to help the Lakers take the eventual title winner Knicks to seven games. In the '72 season Wilt played the final game with a broken wrist and a huge cast. Every time someone bumped his wrist, he had to go through tremendous pain.
But Taylor describes Wilt undergoing as something to a minor knee bump and leaving the game. He readily accepts the premise of Russell and the Celtics clique that Wilt was just a big baby. What a load of codswallop. The last quarter of that game can be seen on the internet. Wilt twisted his knee. They stopped play for a minute...AND WILT TRIED TO PLAY ON IT!!! It showed him on the bench writhing as the trainer worked on his knee. His knee still had to be hurting him as he asked numerous times to be put back in the game. Would a quitter ask to be put back in the game? This is a guy who regularly played through pain. The previous year fellow Sixer teammate and star player Billy Cunningham missed the entire semis due to a broken wrist. Was Cunningham faking it? Of course not. But the numbers of people who hate Wilt and believed the ridiculous lie that Wilt took himself out of the game over a trivial injury should be put to rest.
Taylor repeats another falsehood that Wilt just played for statistics. That lie has been repeated ad nauseum ever since Wilt player. Would a player who simply played for stats come so close so many times and change his game when asked?
One further criticism of the book is the relentless leftist observations by Taylor. I shouldn't let the obvious bias get to me, but virtually all these sportwriters all seem to be from the Noam Chomsky journalism school. At one point this dimwit takes time out to criticize Ronald Reagan as a racist because Reagan when governor of California, tried to reform the welfare system. I guess the more people you put on welfare (and government dependence) shows what a non-racist you are. (snicker) Of course, you can see how well liberal control of California has worked out for that state.
Another criticism of the book is that like virtually all sportswriters, Taylor does not seem to know much about the sport he writes about. Descriptions of the play of most of the players is pretty much bare bones. You get the feeling Taylor has no idea why the players he writes about are as good as they are.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x97bd390c) von 5 Sternen Best Basketball I've ever read 23. Dezember 2005
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book is hard to put down. Taylor goes beyond the Rivalry and relates all the history of the period and that's what I liked best about the book. The Rivalry is the main story but all the added information about the NBA, Coaches, Politics, Civil Rights really made this a great read.

BTW - my all time, all star team, best at each position:

Russell, Pettit, Bird, Robertson, Jordan.
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