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"Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love" 

Harvey Frommer's Sports Book Review

by Harvey Frommer

Harvey Frommer - Click to Enlarge          

"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 they wanted."

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 unscathed.

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 him out."

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 book.

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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.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

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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