Go Up for Glory

By Bill Russell as told by William McSweeny


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         This book is a must read who really wants to learn their NBA history.  You learn a lot about the ugly side of 1950s and 1960s basketball:  the racism.  When the Celtics played exhibition games in the deep south, the black players were forced to stay in another hotel.  Russell finally grew tired of this degrading and decided not to play in any town that wouldn't let him eat or sleep in the same place as a white man.  He often had to pay to fly out of town, but he stood by his principles.  He was ripped at times in the press, for instance, for leaving Lexington, Kentucky when the University of Kentucky was honoring Celtic and ex-Wildcat alum Frank Ramsay.  The press said Russell was dishonoring Ramsay, but Ramsay understood Russell's principles.

        Russell tells of growing up in the south and enduring racism.  He tells of moving to California and taking up basketball late in life.  When he was a senior only one college recruited him:  San Francisco (and only because the coach visited on a day that Russell happened to play very well).  Russell had problems finding the USF campus and a lot of people in San Francisco didn't know where it was at.  USF didn't have a home gym so every game was played on the road.  After the first season he played (freshman weren't eligible), USF went on a 55 game winning streak, with none of the games being at home, and won the NCAA tournament his Junior and Senior years.  The press were in love with Holy Cross' Tommy Heinsoln, and Russell went out the Madison Square Garden and shut Heinsoln down.  Back then, centers were "supposed" to be high scorers, and since Russell wasn't the press didn't give him his due.  In between the chronological history, Russell gives his views on a lot of topics.

        He also tells of playing on the 1956 Olympic team and joining the Boston Celtics in mid-season and leading them to the NBA title.  He also tells of the 7 other titles he won, up to the last season before the book was written, 1965.  He tells of the camaraderie and the hard training.  He is also very honest as he admits that there is no way he could stop Wilt Chamberlain, and he tells of his own failure with the guy-wire incident (the game where Havlicek stole the ball).

Introspection:  4
Insight:  4
History:  1955-1965
Readability:  4

Go Up for Glory.  Bill Russell as told to William McSweeny.  Berkley-Medallion.  1966.    

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