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Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love [Mass Market Paperback]

Larry Bird , Jackie MacMullan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2000
Larry Bird captured the imagination and admiration of basketball fans throughout his thirteen-year career with the Boston Celtics with his trademark style of creative, intelligent, exciting, and hard-nosed play. And then, last year in his rookie season as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, he infused the team with these same qualities -- and the results were remarkable. He turned around a slumping franchise and led the Pacers to the conference finals. To finish off a great season, Bird was named the NBA's "Coach of the Year" -- quite an accolade for Bird, who had never coached before and surprised many fans with his unusual and unorthodox coaching methods.

This book is a look into one of the greatest minds to have ever stepped on a hardwood court. Larry Bird shares his inner thoughts on basketball that to date only his Celtic teammates and Pacers players have been privy. From dissecting offensive and defensive strategies to assessing the talent of NBA players; from sharing the genesis of his coaching philosophies to how he deals with today's overpriced and temperamental players, it's all there. This book is Larry Bird's basketball playbook, and it's the one book every basketball fan will want to read.

Cover design by Tom Tafuri
Cover photograph by Glenn James/NBA Photos

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From Amazon

The first sentence of Larry Bird's candid post-player memoir begins blandly enough: "On August 18, 1992, I announced my retirement from the Boston Celtics." It's the one that follows--"It was one of the happiest days of my life"--that sets the tone for the book. Most stars have to be pulled off center stage, but as Bird Watching makes clear, the former Celtic legend who returned home to eventually coach the Indiana Pacers is certainly a rare bird. He's not afraid to ruffle feathers. And he's not afraid to tell his truth.

Perhaps the most striking revelations concern his heart. On top of the back pain that plagued him through much of his career, from time to time Bird experienced the feeling--and disorienting flush--of an irregular heartbeat, which he kept hidden from the Celtics. Even now, in the stress-filled world of coaching, Bird has almost passed out on the bench a couple of times--but he remains a fierce competitor. "I'm not going to be stupid about this heart condition, but I'm not going to live my whole life in fear of this thing either. If it goes, it goes."

Bird Watchingspends virtually no time with Bird the player; he's not one for looking back. He's more interested in explaining his evolution and thinking as a coach, examining the current state of the NBA, and picking apart the Pacer's disastrous 1999 playoff loss to the Knicks. He does, however, reminisce about his amazing connection to Magic Johnson, comparing it to the bond between Ali and Frazier. "I knew it was going to be like that forever after I played him in college for the national championship," Bird writes. "I never came up against anyone, other than Magic, who could challenge me mentally. Magic always took me to the limit." From Bird, it's hard to imagine a more heartfelt compliment. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fans expecting the literary highlight reel of the NBA legend's championship years with the Boston Celtics may be initially put off by this loosely organized collection of opinions and reminiscences. They should stick with it, however, because ultimately the book is an endearingly honest self-portrait of a humble man who has made the most of his opportunities. Celtic fans will be titillated by the frank reports of just how Larry Legend wound up leaving Boston. Being a give-it-to-me-straight kind of guy, he was disgusted with the disingenuous ways of the Celtic front office, where he briefly worked after his playing days. Bird, now the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, also explains, quite briskly, how his relationship with fellow Celtic Kevin McHale went sour: as their careers wound down, McHale and another teammate went behind Bird's back to reporters with complaints that his play had become selfish. But Bird's refusal to pull punches doesn't hit only his adversaries: he admits that he was lucky that his good friend Rick Robey was traded away from the Celtics, because the good times they had together got in the way of Bird's career. He also writes that not he, but Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz should have been named Coach of the Year in 1998. The Hick from French Lick solidifies his reputation as a straight-talker unimpressed with his own legend. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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On August 18, 1992, I announced my retirement from the Boston Celtics. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bird Watching - Larry Bird March 1 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Bird Watching (by Larry Bird)
Reviewer: Known as one the of the best basketball players to have ever stepped foot onto a NBA court, Larry Bird's book will teach you many things about himself as well as the game. Larry brings the reader into some of his most personal things that he has never shared with anyone. He gives you a first class view on all of his experiences of playing professional basketball in the NBA. He shows you the downsides, positives, but most of all the victories. You'll find out first hand all of the injuries Larry has encountered that until now he has kept as a secret.
Through this book Larry will share with you information of his hometown, French Lick, Indiana. You'll learn about his family, about his fathers' death and the way up to his mothers' death. Larry talks about more than just his parents he introduces you to his wife, Dinah and his two children, Conner and Mariah.
Larry will walk you through his entire career. All the way from his high school career, where one of his favorite coaches, Jim Jones coached him. Jim Jones was the coach who really taught Larry all of the fundamentals of the game. Larry didn't seem to have that many coaches that he didn't care for. Larry is also a very hard worker, he really appreciated it when coaches made him run hard. He believed that every basketball player should be conditioned to play the game. Then later on in his career when he ends up becoming a coach he incorporates all of the coaching skills that he has gathered from his previous coaches and uses them on his players. He brings you through some of his most exciting journeys and some of his most famous friends and players.
Just about everything in this book flows together.
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By Kyle
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Bird Watching, an autobiography by Larry Bird, is a story for any lover of sports. Bird Watching is a detailed account of the life of Larry Bird, from his NBA career with the Boston Celtics to his coaching position with the Indiana Pacers. After reading the first page of the book, the reader realizes there is more to this NBA legend than meets the eye.
Unlike most professional basketball players, Larry Bird never regretted the day he left the NBA and even says that the day he retired was "one of the happiest days of [his] life." Faced with chronic back problems and an irregular heart, Bird was happy to see the day when he no longer had to endure the pain of playing the sport he loved more than anything. Coming from the man himself, the story describes Bird's life in a detailed and personal manner. From beginning to end, the reader easily notices the uniqueness of this man's character and not only sees, but feels the impact this incredible man left on so many fellow players, fans, and loved ones.
I thought this was a great book, especially for a sports fan. I felt that for a sport's book, it was particularly well written. The author's style allows the reader to get a personal glimpse of the life of Larry Bird and causes the reader to feel as if they knew this NBA legend. Because of the story's subject, the author employs very few literary devices. However, the author uses many similes in describing Bird's injuries, allowing the reader to appreciate Bird's choice in leaving the NBA. The book lacks an overall dominant theme, but simply wishes to convey the story of one of the greatest and most unique basketball players of all time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BIRD spelled backwards is WINNER March 5 2002
By Rocco
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book explores the post playing days of arguably the best forward to ever play the game of basketball. Bird recaps his days of playing in the olympics, his time in the front office of the Celtics, and his coaching days of the Pacers. I have been a huge Bird fan since I was a kid, yet I never knew much about him, except for what I saw on the court. This book gave me a lot of insight into Bird's dynamic work ethic as both player and coach and showed how he was able to use his winning attitude to take the Pacers from 39 wins to 58 wins in one season as well as to the infamous clash with Jordan and the Bulls in the 98 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird also reveals his thoughts about the NBA today. If you want to know about the legend that is Larry Bird, you should read this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Solid Book Nov. 11 2001
Format:Hardcover
Larry Bird has always been Straight&to the Put.from His Playing days with His Classic Battles with Magic Johnson to His Coaching Career&His Overall View on the NBA&it's players.I enjoyed the Book.Larry Bird is a Very Tough Minded Cat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MVP biography July 31 2001
By SK
Format:Hardcover
A very interesting book which gives both sides of the game from a player's and coaches' prespective. I would recommend this book to both Larry Bird and basketball fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars LArry Bird March 5 2001
Format:Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you have some time on your hands or just like to read sport books read this one. It also taught me a lot about the metal side of the game which was good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's good reading Jan. 11 2001
By PaulB
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I found this book very good, but I liked Mark Shaw's Larry Legend book more personally. I think it explored quite a lot into the life of Coach Bird.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks, Larry May 29 2000
Format:Hardcover
Regarding the abridged version of Bird Watching on audio tape, listening to Larry's book simply reinforced everything I've always believed about him. One of the most repeated comments the media makes is that Larry is a "simple" man. They mean it as a compliment. However, I totally disagree. His book is no great work of art. It is not going to win the Pulitzer Prize. However, it reveals that Larry Bird is no simple man. He's smart, funny, sensitive, and most of all, his own person. In Bird Watching, he explains that he didn't choose to coach the Pacers simply because they are from Indiana or to help them build a new arena or to become a marketing tool. Larry Bird is no sell-out. In one of the better chapters of the book, Larry explains the difficulties with his back. Surprisingly, he said that even if he had not been a professional athlete, he probably would have had similar problems because of a congenital problem. Like most people, I had no idea that his back was as bad as it was. Or that he played in so much pain for so long. Listening to his book, I could sense how frustrating the problem must have been. The most illuminating part was the way he explained the psychological ramifications of his back problems. It wasn't so much that he couldn't play, it was because he didn't want to let down the season-ticket holders who had paid good money to watch him for the entire season. I believe that those of us who had the pleasure of following Bird's career are truly lucky. Who can forget the double overtime game against Chicago in which Jordan scored 63 points, yet the Celtics still won? Who can forget Johnny Most screaming Bird stole the ball! Bird stole the ball! (And DJ having the court presence to actually make the basket? Read more ›
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