Monday, October 30, 2006

Arnold "Red" Auerbach, 1917-2006

I have never been a very big fan of the NBA but three things were clear growing up in New England: the Celtics were the greatest basketball franchise ever, Larry Bird was the basketball Jesus , and the man responsible for bringing all of this to Boston, Red Auerbach, was a living basketball demigod. This was the time of the great battles against Magic, Kareem, and the despised but loaded with talent Lakers. I remember my grandfather (a fan of most L.A. sports teams) and I engaging in a good natured rivalry over their epic Finals match ups. I realize now that he and Red were nearly the same age.

I was saddened but not overly surprised to hear of Red's passing on Saturday. Not too long ago a friend loaned me John Feinstein's book, "Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game" (co-authored by Auerbach.) Something I probably would not have sought out but was glad that it found me. It is not a conventional biography but a book about impressions made after spending time, mostly lunches at a Chinese restaurant in D.C, with Red and a varied cast of sports and public figures. The book at times was a tad bit too hagiographic but despite that it was clear that Auerbach was one of the good guys in life.

On, Bill Simmons has a poignant article about his experience as a lifelong fan and the time he got to meet the legend.

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