Red and Me

My favorite book is called "Red and Me". It talks about Bill Russell who played in the NBA and his coach Red Aurbach. Bill Russell played with the Boston Celtics from 1957-1969. Red Aurabach was his coach from 1957-1967. In 1967 Red Aurbach decided to stop coaching. Bill Russell became a player coach in the 1967-68 season and the 1968-69 season. Bill Russell on 11 championships during his carrier and 9 of them with Red Aurabach as head coach. He won two more when he was a player coach. Red Aurbach saw Bill Russell play at the University of San Fransico. He thought that he was one of the best players ever. After playing four years at San Fransico and winning two national titles, Red decided to take Bill Russell in the 1956 NBA draft. The Celtics won the championship in Bill Russell's rookie year. Red and Bill Russell became really good friends after Bill's rookie season with the Celtics. Also, before playing for the Celtics, Bill Russell decided to go to the Olympics. At the Olympics Bill Russell and the olympic coach did not get along well, and neither did Bill and his college coach. But, the relationship that Bill Russell had with his coach Red, was an unbreakable one. Even after Bill Russell retired, he would still call Red and sometimes go to lunch with him just to see how he was doing. At the start of the new milliomum, Red started having health problems. Red Aurebach passed away in October of 2006. He was 89 years old. He coached the Celtics from 1950-1967. He was also the GM of the Celtics from 1970-1984. Then, he decided to step down as GM, and he ended up taking another postion with the Celtics. He was with the Celtics organization until the day he died. Bill Russell meanwhile became a broadcaster for the NBA on ABC in the 70's and then for CBS in the 80's.

The Lakers of the 50's

Another book that I like is the NBA at 50. The NBA at 50 talks about the history of the NBA from 1946-1997. The NBA began in 1946 and the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the Chicago Stags to win the first ever NBA championship. The Minneapolis Lakers had a star named George Mikan. George Mikan played with the Lakers in the 40's and 50's. He was considered the Michael Jordan of that era. He was such an overpowering center that the NBA had to widen the lane, so that he couldn't control the paint. Before, the lane was so skinny that your body wouldn't even be inside the paint. But, now your whole body could be inside the paint, so the NBA put in a rule so you couldn't be in the lane for more than three seconds. This rule really lessoned Mikans dominance. He still was a pretty dominate player though because the Lakers won five championships in six years, making the Lakers the NBA's first dynasty. George Mikan decided to retire after the 1955-56 season.

The Celtics of the 60's

In 1956 another big man came into the league. His name was Bill Russell. Bill Russell was drafted by the Celtics, who already had a pretty good point guard named Bob Cousy. Bob Cousy started playing with the Celtics in 1950. He was the first player in the NBA who was able to make the behind the back pass. So, the Celtics had an offensive player in Cousy and and a defensive star in Bill Russell. The Celtics won the championship in Bill Russells rookie season. After that they would go an incredible run. One that no other team has been able to match in NBA history. They would win 11 championships in 13 seasons. They also faced the Lakers in six of those meetings. The Lakers got Jerry West from West Virginia and Elgin Baylor from Seattle. The Lakers thought that they had enough talent on their team to beat the Celtics. But, every time the Celtics were able to beat the Lakers. So, in 1968 the Lakers decided to aquire Wilt Chamberlain, another dominite center from the 76ers. The Lakers thought this time they definitly had the better team, because they had Wilt, who could match up with Russell. Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 points in a game, which is the most points in an NBA game. But, the Celtics were able to win another championship in 1969, and they won it on L.A.'s homecourt in the deciding game 7. The Lakers owner before the game put balloons in the rafters because he thought for sure the Lakers were going to win the championship. When the final buzzer went off, the ballons were supposed to come down from the rafters, but instead the Celtics won the championship, leaving Jerry, Eligin, and Wilt speechless. Jerry West went into the locker room and cried. He couldn't believe that his team had lost to the Celtics again. After the season Bill Russell decided to retire from the game of basketball.

The 70's

The next year the Knicks won the championship who had a center named Willis Reed. The knicks played the Lakers who had Jerry West, Eligin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlian. The knicks center got injured in the 5th game of the championship series when the series was tied at 2. The Knicks still won game 5 and then the Lakers won game 6. So the series was tied at 3 and the seventh game was being played in New York. Willis Reed was a question mark for game 7 as to whether he would play or not. He decided to suit up and play for game 7. The knicks ended up winning the championship, and the lakers lost again. The knicks captured their first ever NBA championship. At the start of the 1971-1972 season Elgin Baylor decided to retire from the game of basketball. The Lakers got a new head coach named Bill Sharmen who played with the Celtics in the 50's. He wanted the lakers to play as a team, where the previous coach wanted Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain to each score 30+ points every game. The Lakers ended up winning an NBA record 33 straight games, and they went 69-13, which is the second best record in NBA history. The Lakers beat the Knicks in five games and Jerry West was finally able to win an NBA championship. The following season Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain decided to retire. The next season the Celtics won the NBA championship, led by John Haviliek. John Havelicek played almost all 48 minutes for the Celtics. His nickname was hondo because he could never stop running. The Celtics defeated the Milwakee Bucks in the NBA championship and they won the championship. The Celtics won the seventh game in Milwakee. In 1975 the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. There main star was Rick Barry who played for the Warriors. He would be a broadcaster in the 1976 NBA Finals, after his Warriors were upset by the Suns in the Conference Finals. So, it was the Suns and the Celtics for the NBA championship. In the fifth game of the NBA championship the Celtics and the Suns would have a battle for the ages. The game was in Boston and the series was tied at two. The game would go into triple overtime, and the Celtics would win. It was one of the greatest games ever played in NBA history. The Celtics ended up winning game 6 and they won another championship. They had now won 13 championships in 20 years. After the 1976 season the NBA went into disarray. The TV's ratings and the people attending the games dropped significantly. By 1979 the NBA thought that they would go bankrupt.

The 80's with Bird and Magic

But, before the start of the 1979-1980 season two players came into the league. There names were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Larry Bird was drafted by the Celtics and Magic was drafted by the Lakers. Bird and Magic both had spectular rookie seasons. Magic won the championship in his rookie season and Bird won the championship the following season. The Lakers won the championship in 1982, which gave Magic his second championship. In 1983 the 76er's and NBA star Dr. J swept the Lakers to win the championship. Dr. J played in the ABA in the 70's. The ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, so Dr. J went to the NBA. In 1984 the Celtics and the Lakers met for the first time since 1969. It was also the first time that Magic's Lakers met against Bird's Celtics. I think the 1984 NBA Finals was the greatest series in NBA history. The Lakers won game 1 in Boston. But, the Celtics won game 2 in overtime. So the series was tied at 1. The Lakers won game 3 in L.A. by 30 points. Larry Bird was so upset after the game. He called his team mates sissis. Bird's statement got them ready for game 4. The Celtics won game 4, also in overtime and the Celtics were so happy. So, the series was tied at 2 and in game 5 the Boston Garden got up to 95 degrees, because there was no air conitioning in the Garden. Despite the heat the Celtics were able to win game 5 and take a commanding 3-2 series lead. The Lakers won game 6 in L.A. so the series was tied at 3. The deciding game was to be played in the Boston Garden. The Celtics and the Lakers were ready. The Celtics won the game by seven as Magic made critical errors down the stretch. He made some really bad passes. The Celtics won the championship giving Bird his second championship. The Lakers were ready to get revenge on the Celtics. They met again for the championship in 1985. The Celtics blew out game 1. They won by 35 points, giving them the largest margin of victory in an NBA Finals game. The Lakers came back and won game 2 in Boston. They were also able to win game 3. The Celtics won game 4 by 2 points as Bird's teammate Dennis Johnson hit a shot at the buzzer for the Celtics. So, the series was tied at 2, but game 5 was in L.A. because the format for homecourt was 2-3-2, which means the Celtics got homecourt the first two games, and the Lakers got it the next three games. After that the Celtics would get the last two games. So, the Lakers won game 5 giving them a 3-2 series lead. They were able to win game 6 in Boston and get revenge over the Celtics. The next year the Lakers lost to the Rockets in the Conference Finals, so it was the Rockets and the Celtics in the Finals. The Celtics won the series in six games and it would be the last championship that Bird would win in his carrier. Magic would win the championship in 1987 and 1988, which made the Lakers the first team to repeat since Bill Russellls Celtics in 1968 and 1969. After that Bird and Magic were really slowing down.

Michael Jordan in the 90's

But, there was another player who came into the league. His name was Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan's rookie season was the 1984-85 season. He won the rookie of the year. But, the one thing that always frustrated Jordan was that he scored a lot of points, but his teams could never win championships. The Bulls lost to the Pistons three years in a row in 1988, 1989, and 1990. It was now Jordan's seventh year in the league. He knew he had to get by the Pistons and win a championship this year. The Bulls record was 61-21 in the 1991 season. They finally were able to beat the Pistons in the conference finals in a sweep. Then, Jordan faced Magic Johnson's Lakers in the finals and Jordan won his first championship. In the next season the Bulls faced the Trailblazers in the finals. In game 1 Jordan hit six three pointers in the first half and he scored 35 points in the half, which is still a finals record. The Bulls won the game by 30 and they were able to win the series in six games. Jordan and the Bulls repeated as NBA champions. The next year the Bulls weree trying to become the first team since the Celtics of the 60's to win three championships in a row. The Bulls played the Suns in the finals. The Bulls won the series in six hard fought games. The Bulls had won their third straight NBA championship. After the season Jordan felt like he had no challenges left, so he retired after only playing for nine seasons with the Bulls. The NBA just wasn't the same without Michael Jordan. The Rockets who had a star center Hakeem Olajiwon, won back to back championships. But, in the middle of the 1995 season, Jordan decided to come back and play with the Bulls. In his second game back he was able to hit a buzzer beater against the Hawks. But, in the playoffs the Bulls would lose to the Magic. The Bulls didn't even make it back to the finals. Jordan just wasn't himself and was determined to work harder than ever to try and come back next season, and win a championship. Now, he had a challenge in front of him. Everyone thought that he just wouldn't be the same player again, and that he couldn't lead his team to another championship. Every day in the summer Jordan would go to the gym and workout., go through shooting drills, and play in some exhibition games. By, the start of the season he was ready to come back. He came back even better than he was before. The Bulls won 72 games an NBA record, while only losing 10. But, the challenge would be in the playoffs. The Bulls faced the Magic, and they were able to sweep them, and go back to the NBA Finals. The Bulls faced the Sonics who won 63 games, and they were an underdog. The Bulls beat the Sonics in six games, and Michael Jordan's comeback was complete. He had led the Bulls to another championship. So, that is the history of the first 50 years of the NBA. I hoped you enjoyed reading this incredible journey through the NBA.

Larry Bird Drive

Another book that I really enjoyed reading was called "Larry Bird Drive". The book is about Larry Bird's life, and how he grew as a person. He grew up in French Lick Indiana, which was a very small town. Larry Bird's mother Georgia and his father Joe supported the family. But, Georgia worked a lot of hours as a waitress and Joe worked at a construction place. So, Larry was often by himself with all his brothers and sisters. He had four brothers and one sister. Larry's brother Mark became a star on his high school basketball team, and Larry wanted to do the same thing. So, Larry started really practicing. By, the time highschool started, Larry was 6ft 3in. He had an unbelievable passion to play the game of basketball. But, he still wasn't at the level that he wanted to be. But, by the time he was a senior in high school, he wass fully grown. He was now 6ft. 9in., and he would dominate his opponents. He averaged 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. After his senior year of high school, he decided to get a scholarship to Indiana University. They ended up winning a national championship, but Larry Bird decided to leave Indiana University in the middle of the season, and he hitch hiked home. He decided to leave because he thought the school was big, and he didn't have many friends. He said he wasn't going to go back to college. Recruiters would come to the Bird household and try to get Larry to go to a college. But, Larry didn't want to go. Finally, one day Bill Hodges, who was the head coach at Indiana State came to the Bird household. Larry's mother said that Larry was done looking at colleges. But, Bill told Larry that if he wanted to go to Indiana University to call him. So, one day Larry and Bill had a meeting and Larry decided to go to Indiana State. It was a small school, which Larry thought was nice because he had a small home town. Larry had to sit out a year, before he could play basketball because he was a transfer. The next year he came back and he was better than ever. In Larry's senior year, Indiana State went undefeated in the regular season and made it to the championship game. But, they were defeated by Magic's Michigan State team. Larry was so sad after the game. He put in all that hard work, and Indiana State lost only one game. Now, Larry Bird was ready for the NBA. He was drafted by the Celtics in 1978. His last year of college was 1979, but he was eligable for the NBA draft in 1978. So, the Celtics drafted him, but then they had to wait a year, until they actually got him on the team. Larry Bird won rookie of the year in his first season with the Celtics, but they lost to the 76er's in the conference finals. The next year Bird was spectular, leading the Celtics past the 76er's in the conference finals. They were down 3-1 in the series, and Larry was determined that they weren't going to lose. The Celtics faced off against the Rockets in the Finals. They beat them in six games, and Bird won his first championship. But, the Celitcs lost to the Sixers in 1982 and were swept by the Bucks in 83. Bird was determined to win championship in 1984. He went in the gym and shot 1,000 shots every day. He was determined to bring his game up to a whole nother level. He had one of the best seasons of his carrier, winning the MVP and he also won another championship, against Magic's team the Lakers. So, Bird had gotten revenge against Magic from college. In 1985, Bird would win another MVP, but the Lakers beat the Celtics. The next year, Bird won his third straight MVP, making him only the third player to do so. He also won his third championship against the Rockets. In 1988 Bird and Dominike Wilkins had an unbelievable dual in the 4th quarter of a playoff game . Bird would score 20 points in the 4th quarter and Wilkins would score 16 points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics won the game and the series in seven games. But, the Celtics would end up losing the Pistons in the conference finals. The next year, Bird started having problems with his back, which led to his retirement in 1992. Larry Bird was still pretty happy with all the great things that he accomplished in his carrier, and I think he's the best player in Celtics history.

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