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The Rivalry


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About the Author

John Taylor, a journalist for more than two decades, has been a contributing editor at New York magazine and a senior writer for Esquire. He is the author of four books, including, most recently, The Count and the Confession, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Falling, which Entertainment Weekly ranked as one of the five best nonfiction books of 1999. He lives in East Moriches, New York, with his wife, Jeannette Walls.


Veteran journalist Taylor (The Count and the Confession: A True Murder Mystery) here takes on the task of describing the professional achievements of two of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game, Wilt Chamberlain of the Warriors, 76ers, and Lakers and Bill Russell of the Celtics. Rather than following the traditional biographical route, Taylor focuses on the games the two men played, thereby placing the action at center stage. With an engaging style, he sets the scene with descriptions of the range of emotions felt by the coaches, players, and fans who partook of this rivalry. He describes the contributions that coaches and other players made throughout the tumultuous decade of the 1960s as the professional league that we know today evolved. Red Auerbach (the Celtics) and Alex Hannum (the 76ers) were two coaches whose styles and personalities changed players' expectations about winning. Hall of Fame teammates such as Elgin Baylor and Jerry West of the Lakers, and Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, and John Havlicek of the Celtics receive coverage in this exciting retrospective of basketball's golden era. Recommended for all public libraries.-Nancy Larrabee, Greenburgh P.L., Elmsford, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Taylor (The Count and the Confession) offers a vivid account of the fledgling days of the National Basketball Association and the intense competition between two of its biggest early stars: Bill Russell (of the Boston Celtics) and Wilt Chamberlain (of the Philadelphia 76ers). While both players were dominant men who anchored their respective teams, their personalities differed greatly. The quiet, reflective Russell turned a serendipitous showing in front of a scout into a legendary career largely through willpower and hard work, while the outgoing Chamberlain was a much more naturally gifted athlete whose skills drew attention and offers while he was barely a teenager. Taylor highlights this distinction, asking, "[C]ould determination trump talent?" Along with examining the physical and psychological battles between the two, Taylor depicts the NBA's raucous nature in the 1950s and '60s, when fights between players were frequent, and the brash Celtics coach Red Auerbach was routinely pelted with rotten tomatoes, lit cigars and eggs. Looking at everything, from each player's private demons to the racially charged era in which they competed, Taylor's book is by turns an intimate profile and a spirited look at the foundation of modern professional basketball. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (On sale Oct. 11) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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