Red And Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend Paperback – Bargain Price, Apr 26 2010
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From the Back Cover
Red Auerbach was one of the greatest basketball coaches in sports history. Bill Russell was the star center and five-time MVP for Auerbach's Celtics, and together they won eleven championships in thirteen years. But Auerbach and Russell were far more than just coach and player. A short, brash Jew from Brooklyn and a tall, intense African-American from Louisiana and Oakland, the men formed a friendship that evolved into a rare, telling example of deep male camaraderie even as their feelings remained largely unspoken.
Red and Me is an extraordinary book: an homage to a peerless coach, which shows how he produced results unlike any other, and an inspiring story of mutual success, in which each man gave his all and gained back even more. Above all, it may be the most honest and heartfelt depiction of male friendship ever captured in print.
About the Author
Five-time NBA MVP and twelve-time All-Star, Bill Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won eleven NBA championships. As a major league coach, Russell won two additional championships—the first African-American to do so. He is considered the father of the modern pro game and one of the most significant Americans of the twentieth century in sports. His three previous books include the national bestseller Russell Rules.
Alan Steinberg is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller Behind the Mask and Black Profiles in Courage with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Russell shares stories of his childhood, and how it helps him in high school, college, and how it sets the foundation for his relationship with Red Auerbach. You could tell they had a sincere bond, and had a unique way of interacting with each other. They both realized what they had with each other, and were able to work toward one common goal: winning. It was one of the more encouraging examples of success, especially with what we see nowadays, with teams and some of the riff-raff that goes on, that has little-or-nothing to do with winning.
It also gives you a glimpse of a side of both of them that people were not accustomed to seeing, at least from what I've seen. We get to see Coach Red as someone who would play practical jokes, and even had some played on him as well. More than anything, Mr. Russell does a great job of exposing the man, and letting the reader know he was fiercely loyal, dedicated to success, and was someone whose mind was working 24/7, and all for the betterment of the team. More than anything else, it's the story of how two men came together, and became very good friends, while forming a bond that could never be compromised and broken.
Most of these accolades are known by most Celtic fans and also by true sports fans. But what hasn't been known... until this book... because Russ never let anyone into his heart before... to share his intimate feelings... is how deep the reciprocal friendship... and yes the actual love was... between Russ and Red. The reason these feelings were never laid out in the open like this... is pretty obvious to Russ... and he'll hit you over the head with the reason innumerous times in this book. He and Red... like many of the other men of his time... didn't hug each other... or say I love you.
The Celtics became the first team in any professional sport to start an all black team. Asked about it they acted like they hadn't noticed... it was simply a case of putting the best team on the floor. When Red retired from coaching... he named Russ the new Celtic coach. Russell was the first black head coach or manager in professional sports history. Red and Russ never mentioned a thing. When the media asked Red about the significance of having the first "Negro" coach Red said: "LOOK, IT'S NO BIG DEAL. I JUST DID WHAT I THOUGHT WAS BEST FOR OUR TEAM."
The powerful impact of this book is that feelings and wisdom is being shared by a legendary sports figure who for decades and decades had kept any emotions... other than complaining about a foul call... locked in a personal vault that many thought even Russell didn't have the combination to. But when his *FRIEND* Red Auerbach died on October 28, 2006... the big man decided to share some of his personal beliefs and feelings.
There are some powerful and beautiful sentiments shared with the reader such as:
"IT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAN TO BE UNDERSTOOD."
"FRIENDSHIP DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU GIVE TO EACH OTHER, NOT WHAT YOU GET FROM EACH OTHER."
"BUT WE BOTH UNDERSTOOD THAT IF I SUCCEEDED, IT ENHANCED HIM, AND IF HE SUCCEEDED, IT ENHANCED ME. ULTIMATELY, OUR REAL SUCCESS WAS OUR ABILITY-WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO EXPRESS IT OPENLY-TO COLLABORATE IN EVERY WAY WE COULD THINK OF, TO HELP THE *TEAM* SUCCEED."
Any Bill Russell fan will be utterly surprised at the side of Russell that he allows the world to see in this book. One quote that has already affected me is:
"MY AMBITION AS YOUR FRIEND IS THAT MY FRIENDSHIP HAS A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE. IF AM ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH THAT, IT WILL ENHANCE MY QUALITY OF LIFE."
But to complete the back story for this book you must know that in addition to be an exceptional athlete, Russell was an incredibly intelligent and private man who even refused autographs to his teammates for their family. With this background Russell describes how he expected another poor relationship with his coach only to find in Red Auerbach a Jewish man who also had suffered racism and was solely focused on winning and treating his players well. Once he knew what was important to Russell, he treated him as an accomplice, always asking his opinion and never disrespecting him.
Throughout the book Russell describes the deepening relationships with examples of their unique friendship which in many cases are quite minor and not worthy of a book. BUT, at the end of the book Russell eloquently ties this altogether as he talks of his friends death, their intertwined family, and why the most private man I know would take the time to write a book of arguably the second most important relationship of his life, with his coach and friend, Red Auerbach. This book will appeal to Boston fans, sports fans in general and people interested in interpersonal relationships with only a passing interest in sports.
NOTE: While I mentioned racism more than once as it affects the back story of this book, it is not a focus of this book whatsoever other than some early stories in the 50s describing how it impacted parts of their relationship. Please do not let this turn you off this book.
Well, lots is different. Yes it is about relationship and just a little about basketball. But what it is really about is friendship, a unique friendship. Russell starts by doing an excellent job of taking you inside the upbringing of a young black kid in the rural south. Raised by a family and an extended family that cared and taught him valuable lessons that he was able to take with him.
What he does best is tells us this story without bitching. It is almost like he is detatched. The message comes acrossed powerfully without him having to tell you. It was a tough life. His Mother, who he adored, died when he was 12. His father left the family, with the support of his Mother, to work in Detroit and support the family back in Louisiana.
Its quite a journey for an untrusting soul at the time like Russell to end up in Boston befriended mutually with a Jew in Red. Loved the book and the powerful message of where he came from and where he journeyed to and the struggles in between. Well worth reading for the learnings you can glean from this unique friendship.