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Posted May 17, 2006
The psychology of conflict has been at the core of all of John Taylor's books, but he believes The Rivalry was different. ¿I soon became convinced that it also had the form of a classical epic, beginning in 1959, building through various reversals and shifting alliances over a ten-year-period, and reaching a climax in the last minutes of the 1969 finals.' No two players in NBA history better epitomize the two different approaches to the pro game than William Felton Russell and Norman Wilton Chamberlain. But while Taylor's latest work centers (pun intended) on two of the greatest bballers in NBA history, this book isn't your typical slam-jam basketball biography. It's a finely crafted historical chronicle showcasing the fledgling days of the National Basketball Association, circa today¿s tattoo-flaunting, hip-hop happy hoopsters and multi-million dollar play palaces. His narrative provides vivid eyewitness accounts of an NBA that played fourth fiddle to other sports, and where games were often played in front of vegetable throwing crowds that would make the Throwdown in Motown seem like a summer camp pillow fight. Off the court, the main subjects of the book were as different as the revolutionizing way they played the game. Russell was reserved, introverted ¿ some said surly. Chamberlain was flashy, outgoing and tried more coaches¿ patience than a roster full of Portland Trailblazers. Taylor¿s riveting narrative style and thorough historical research make The Rivalry a classic sports work deserving of space alongside Plimpton, Feinstein and Halberstam.
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Posted July 25, 2013