Rebound!: Basketball, Busing, Larry Bird, and the Rebirth of Boston

Rebound!: Basketball, Busing, Larry Bird, and the Rebirth of Boston

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by Michael P. Connelly
     
 

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The city of Boston was founded in 1630 on the principles of freedom and liberty, and over the next three centuries, the “city on a hill” was a leading force in the struggle to preserve those freedoms.

The Boston Celtics basketball franchise was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the National Basketball Association, and over the next thirty years,

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Overview

The city of Boston was founded in 1630 on the principles of freedom and liberty, and over the next three centuries, the “city on a hill” was a leading force in the struggle to preserve those freedoms.

The Boston Celtics basketball franchise was founded in 1946 as a charter member of the National Basketball Association, and over the next thirty years, the team won a record thirteen NBA championships.

During the decade of the 1970s, these two storied legacies—liberty and basketball—began to crumble in the streets of Boston and on the parquet floor of the Boston Garden.

The 1974 decision ordering the forced busing of students to desegregate the Boston schools sparked a firestorm that had been building for decades. The Boston School Committee had perpetuated an imbalanced and failing educational system that existed in opposition to the principles of the Constitution and the Supreme Court, and the courts intended to rectify that in the course of just a few months’ time. This perceived affront to a community’s right of self-determination led to bitter opposition in many neighborhoods. Protests and boycotts went unheeded, and a virtual police state was instituted on the streets and in the schools. The city was polarized. In April 1976, the brutal attack on an African-American attorney by white students—using as a weapon a flagpole bearing the American flag—was the symbolic culmination of the turmoil that was engulfing the city.

When Bill Russell retired from basketball in 1969, it represented a changing of the guard in the Celtic family. The Hall of Fame center (and coach since 1966) had formed the cornerstone of eleven championship teams, and with his departure a piece of the Celtic mystique went with him. In 1970, Boston had its first losing record since before Red Auerbach arrived as coach in 1950. Although the Russell-less franchise managed to secure two more titles in the decade, Celtic Pride took a major hit with dreadful finishes in 1978 and 1979. The acquisition of unmotivated, me-first players undermined the team concept that had defined Celtic greatness for years.

Then, in June 1979, the Boston Celtics signed forward Larry Bird from Indiana State University. Joining a team that had finished 25 games out of first place the year before, Bird helped carry the Celtics back to the top of the standings. In his second season—with the addition of Kevin McHale and Robert Parish—the Boston Celtics succeeded in hanging another championship banner from the Garden rafters. The citizens of Boston came together to join their team in celebration of victory and a renewed commitment to teamwork—on the basketball court and in city’s neighborhoods.

Author Michael Connelly chronicles these two distinct but all-encompassing worlds that helped define the city of Boston. The history of basketball’s greatest franchise is intertwined with the tale of a city’s struggle to reconcile its longstanding tradition as a bastion of liberty with the increasing presence of division and violence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The book seamlessly ties these two themes - busing and basketball - together, with each subject trading chapters back and forth with the other. The reader is taken on a trip through the history of the city and its basketball team from its birth right up to its “rebirth” - the Larry Bird-led 1981 championship Celtics. Well written and well researched, Rebound will be an entertaining read for anyone, whether they are a New Englander or not.
collegehoopsnet.com, April 8, 2009

There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other, more interesting one is a history of the post-Russell Celtics. Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan. Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.
Booklist, December 1, 2008

At its heart, Connelly’s book is often a love letter to the city and praise for how it — like the Celtics team it loves — has proved resilent over the years.
The Bulletin, December 18, 2008

“Bill Russell was the key player on Boston Celtics teams that won 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Yet Russell never felt comfortable in

Boston

, a notoriously segregated and often overtly racist city. In 1974, five years after Russell’s retirement, the city was forced to embark on a bitterly contested program of bussed integration. It was a city divided. And the Celtics fell on hard times. Then Larry Bird, a white forward from southern

Indiana

, arrived. Black and white Beantown citizens found common ground in their admiration for Bird’s excellence and, Connelly argues, began to heal. There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other, more interesting one is a history of the post-Russell Celtics. Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan. Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.” – Booklist,

December 1, 2008

The Bulletin

(circ.: 30,000) and

www.bulletinnewspapers.com, December 18, 2008

“At its heart, Connelly’s book is often a love letter to the city and praise for how it — like the Celtics team it loves — has proved resilient over the years.”

Booklist,

December 1, 2008 (circ.: 24,000)

“Bill Russell was the key player on Boston Celtics teams that won 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Yet Russell never felt comfortable in Boston, a notoriously segregated and often overtly racist city. In 1974, five years after Russell’s retirement, the city was forced to embark on a bitterly contested program of bussed integration. It was a city divided. And the Celtics fell on hard times. Then Larry Bird, a white forward from southern Indiana, arrived. Black and white Beantown citizens found common ground in their admiration for Bird’s excellence and, Connelly argues, began to heal. There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other…a history of the post-Russell Celtics. Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan. Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.”

Booklist
Bill Russell was the key player on Boston Celtics teams that won 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950's and 1960's. Yet Russell never felt comfortable in Boston, a notoriously segregated and often overtly racist city. In 1974, five years after Russell's retirement, the city was forced to embark on a bitterly contested program of bussed integration. It was a city divided. And the Celtics fell on hard times. Then Larry Bird, a white forward from southern Indiana, arrived. Black and white Beantown citizens found common ground in their admiration for Bird's excellence and, Connelly argues, began to heal. There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other, more interesting one is a history of the post-Russell Celtics. Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan. Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.
The Bulletin
At its heart, Connelly's book is often a love letter to the city and praise for how it - like the Celtics team it loves - has proved resilient over the years.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780760335017
Publisher:
MVP Books
Publication date:
12/12/2008
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Bill Russell was the key player on Boston Celtics teams that won 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Yet Russell never felt comfortable in Boston, a notoriously segregated and often overtly racist city.  In 1974, five years after Russell’s retirement, the city was forced to embark on a bitterly contested program of bussed integration.  It was a city divided.  And the Celtics fell on hard times.  Then Larry Bird, a white forward from southern Indiana, arrived.  Black and white Beantown citizens found common ground in their admiration for Bird’s excellence and, Connelly argues, began to heal.  There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other, more interesting one is a history of the post-Russell Celtics.  Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan.  Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.” – Booklist December 1, 2008

The Bulletin (circ.: 30,000) and www.bulletinnewspapers.com, December 18, 2008

“At its heart, Connelly’s book is often a love letter to the city and praise for how it — like the Celtics team it loves — has proved resilient over the years.”

 

Booklist December 1, 2008 (circ.: 24,000)

“Bill Russell was the key player on Boston Celtics teams that won 11 championships in 13 years in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Yet Russell never felt comfortable in Boston, a notoriously segregated and often overtly racist city.  In 1974, five years after Russell’s retirement, the city was forced to embark on a bitterly contested program of bussed integration.  It was a city divided.  And the Celtics fell on hard times.  Then Larry Bird, a white forward from southern Indiana, arrived.  Black and white Beantown citizens found common ground in their admiration for Bird’s excellence and, Connelly argues, began to heal.  There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other…a history of the post-Russell Celtics.  Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan.  Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.”

 

The book seamlessly ties these two themes - busing and basketball - together, with each subject trading chapters back and forth with the other. The reader is taken on a trip through the history of the city and its basketball team from its birth right up to its “rebirth” - the Larry Bird-led 1981 championship Celtics. Well written and well researched, Rebound will be an entertaining read for anyone, whether they are a New Englander or not.
collegehoopsnet.com, April 8, 2009

There are two books here: one is a brief history of the pain caused by the desegregation ruling; the other, more interesting one is a history of the post-Russell Celtics.  Connelly, a native Bostonian, lived through the racial turmoil and was a devoted Celtics fan.  Worth reading, both as an account of urban political turmoil and as a basketball history.
Booklist December 1, 2008

At its heart, Connelly’s book is often a love letter to the city and praise for how it — like the Celtics team it loves — has proved resilent over the years.
The Bulletin, December 18, 2008

 

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