King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution / Edition 1

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"King of the Court provides a highly nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the great African American basketball player from his earliest days up to the present time. With great skill and much insight, Goudsouzian makes clear that Russell was a very complicated man who was full of contradictions in his own private life and in relationship to his business associates, teammates, opponents, the media, and the larger sporting public."—David K.Wiggins, George Mason University

"Not only is King of the Court one of the most impressive and important sports biographies to come along in many a season, easily in the same class as David Maraniss's When Pride Still Mattered (on Vince Lombardi) and Wil Haygood's Sweet Thunder (on Sugar Ray Robinson), it is also one of the truly incisive books on the intersection of race, civil rights, and popular culture that have appeared in some time. Having grown up in Philadelphia, I was always a Wilt Chamberlain man and always will be, but King of the Court convinced me that Bill Russell defined his age in ways that Chamberlain never did. Russell was a man for all seasons. This is a biography befitting Russell's stature."—Gerald Early, author of One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture

"Before there were crossover dribbles or slam dunk competitions, before they even kept statistics for blocked shots, Bill Russell dominated the game we call basketball. The respect he demanded as a black man during America's turbulent Civil Rights era made him the personification of a winner in life. King of the Court, like Russell's defense, locks it down, and puts it all in its proper context. Long live the King!"—Dr. Todd Boyd, author of Young, Black, Rich, and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip Hop Invasion, and the Transformation of American Culture

"Bill Russell's life story is only incidentally about basketball. For him the sport was not a life; it was his vehicle for social change, a platform that showcased his vision for America as much as his athletic talent. In his magnificent biography, Aram Goudsouzian captures the nuance and meaning of Russell's career. After reading the book, one will never look at Russell or sports in quite the same way."—Randy Roberts, Purdue University

"Brings back the excitement of the great days of the NBA and its legendary players, led by the king of them all, Bill Russell. Best book I've read on basketball in 40 years."—Bill McSweeny, co-author, with Bill Russell, of Go Up for Glory

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"All students of the game will feast on King of the Court. "--Library Journal

"If you don't know much about Russell, this is a good place to start. If you do, it will help place him in context."--Providence Journal

"Goudsouzian captures the complexities of the man behind the fame, both his strengths and his foibles."--Choice

"A full, authoritative, incredibly well-researched biography of Russell's life and career, just dense with information on every page."--Espn

Library Journal
It is fitting that this biography of Bill Russell, the complex, cerebral basketball Hall of Famer, should be written by a history professor and conclude with almost 130 pages of notes and bibliography. Clearly this is not a stereotypically hagiographic or tell-all sports biography, yet it is eminently readable. Goudsouzian paints a clear portrait of Russell the athlete, the civil rights advocate, and the man. Russell was outrebounded and outscored by some of his peers, notably the gargantuan Wilt Chamberlain, but he was the ultimate winner: in college, the Olympics, and the NBA, his teams played in 14 winner-take-all championship games, and 14 times they walked away victorious. VERDICT While the copious notes may frighten off some casual readers, all students of the game and those old enough to recall television scenes of Boston Garden going mad during a Celtics rally, Russell swatting away shots like flies or Bob Cousy firing no-look passes, and coach Red Auerbach lighting his traditional victory cigar will feast on King of the Court. Highly recommended.—Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL
Providence Journal

“If you don’t know much about Russell, this is a good place to start. If you do, it will help place him in context.”

“Goudsouzian captures the complexities of the man behind the fame, both his strengths and his foibles.”
The Sixties - Harry Reed

“A provocative, informative, detailed, critical, and balanced work.”
Sports Book Review Center

“"King of the Court" [is] probably the best one-stop of account of the life of one of sport's true individuals.”
Journal Of American History

“It is all here for the reader to savor in this fine new addition to the history of sport.”

“A full, authoritative, incredibly well-researched biography of Russell's life and career, just dense with information on every page.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520258877
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,027,297
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Aram Goudsouzian is Associate Professor of History at the University of Memphis and the author of Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon.
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