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Red Holzman Would Have Loved It

Bill Bradley led Princeton to three Ivy League titles, averaged 30.1 points a game and was a two-time All-American. The only junior, he was the captain of the 1964 gold medal winning U.S. Olympic team. He led the New York Knickerbockers to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

But today he is even more famous than he was when he wore the uniform of the New York Knickerbockers for a decade and made the crowd at Madison Square Garden come to its feet cheering his determined and intelligent play.

Today, the man they called "Dollar Bill" returns to the Garden for a fund-raising event for his Democratic Presidential nomination bid.

It will be a class reunion of sorts under the banners that hang from the rafters including "No. 24," for Bill Bradley. Many of old teammates and opponents will be there to keep him company. One of them is Bob Cousy, who recently campaigned for Bradley in New Hampshire, where there were cars with bumper stickers that proclaimed: "Another Celtic Fan for Bill Bradley."

"Madison Square Garden is a home of sorts," the former star forward said. "It's the place where I worked for 10 years, and it's got a lot of special memories."

Not many realize that Knick coach Red Holzman took a "gamble" and drafted Bradley when he graduated from Princeton even though he had to wait two years for him while the scholar-athlete completed his Oxford University studies.

Red Holzman remembered Bradley this way: "Bill could be funny by design but he was never an oddball, even though his tastes and interests were far different from the other players. He liked museums, shows, books and his friends were intellectual, busy guys. But Bill was as tough as they come on the basketball court, a really irritating player on defense."

Sadly, Red Holzman died last year.

Back in 1985 when I was writing his autobiography, "Red on Red," Holzman told me, "Even when he was a Knick, Bill was intensely interested in politics and arranged many meetings and appointments on community matters."

When he played for the Knicks, Bradley never did a commercial. His image even then was of prime concern to him. There was even a special clause in his contract that said Bradley did not have to do any endorsements. Bradley always had his eye on the big picture, the big prize.

Now he is going for it with all the drive that he went for excellence on the basketball court. "Bill," Red Holzman recalled, "spent many hours playing one-on-one in an empty gym after all the other players had long gone. A ninety minute workout was never enough for him."

Today, Willis and Clyde and Earl the Pearl and Dave and so many others will be there.

It's just too bad William "Red" Holzman can't make it. He would have loved it.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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