The Last PasseBook - 2018
From an acclaimed bestselling historian, a poignant and revelatory narrative about the greatest dynasty in American professional sports history, and an intimate story of race, mortality, and regret About to turn ninety, Bob Cousy, the Hall of Fame Boston Celtic captain who led the team to its first six championships on an unparalleled run, has much to look back on in peace and contentment. Yet it is heart-rending that for Cousy, a widower living alone with memories and echoes in a big house in Worcester, MA, the last piece of unfinished business - the last pass he hopes to throw - is to close the circle with his great partner on those Celtic teams, fellow Hall of Famer Bill Russell, now 84. Ironic because these teammates were basketball's Ruth and Gehrig, and because Cooz, as everyone called him, was famously ahead of his time as an NBA player in terms of race and civil rights. But as the decades passed, Cousy blamed himself for not having done enough, for not having understood the depth of prejudice that Russell faced as an African-American star in a city with a fraught history regarding race. Cousy wishes he had defended Russell publicly, and that he had told him privately that he had his back. At this late hour, how can he make amends? At the heart of Gary Pomerantz's wonderful book lies the relationship between these two men. It is Bob Cousy's last testament, a full reckoning with a complex and fascinating life. As a sports story alone it has few parallels: An immigrant ghetto kid whose French parents suffered a dysfunctional marriage, the young Cousy escaped to the New York City playgrounds where his creativity as a dribbler and passer made him an urban legend soon known as the Houdini of the Hardwood. The legend grew at Holy Cross, and then nationally in 1950, his first year as a Celtic: he would be an all-star all 13 of his NBA seasons. Even as Cousy's on-court imagination and daring brought new attention to the pro game, the Celtics struggled until Coach Red Auerbach landed Russell in 1956. He fit in with Cooz beautifully. Russell was a track star in college with explosive speed and leaping ability; he could run with Cooz on the break, and became a revolutionary enforcer as a shot blocker and rebounder. The Celtics dynasty was born. To Boston's white sportswriters it was Cousy's team, not Russell's. As the civil rights movement took flight, Russell became more publicly involved in it, which involved some ugly repercussions. THE LAST PASS situates the Celtics dynasty against the full dramatic canvas of American life in the 50's and 60's, with Cousy and Russell in the foreground. It is an enthralling portrait of the heart of this legendary team that throws open a window onto the wider world at a time of convulsive social change. And it is a book about the legacy of a life: what matters to us in the end, long after the arena lights have been turned off and we are alone with our memories.
Publisher: [S.I.] : Penguin Publishing Group, 2018.
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