When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks

When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks

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by Harvey Araton
     
 

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In the tradition of The Boys of Summer and The Bronx Is Burning, New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton delivers a fascinating look at the 1970s New York Knicks—part autobiography, part sports history, part epic, set against the tumultuous era when Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and Bill Bradley reigned supreme in the world ofSee more details below

Overview

In the tradition of The Boys of Summer and The Bronx Is Burning, New York Times sports columnist Harvey Araton delivers a fascinating look at the 1970s New York Knicks—part autobiography, part sports history, part epic, set against the tumultuous era when Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and Bill Bradley reigned supreme in the world of basketball. Perfect for readers of Jeff Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won!, Peter Richmond’s Badasses, and Pat Williams’s Coach Wooden, Araton’s revealing story of the Knicks’ heyday is far more than a review of one of basketball’s greatest teams’ inspiring story—it is, at heart, a stirring recreation of a time and place when the NBA championships defined the national dream.

Editorial Reviews

Jeff Greenfield
Younger fans, who have watched the Knicks excel only at ticket prices, front-­office chaos and the decibel level of the Garden's public-address system, may find the idea of the Knicks as the embodiment of intelligent, disciplined, unselfish play ludicrous. They would be well advised to pick up Harvey Araton's When the Garden Was Eden. It will give them a clear picture of what made the Knicks so endearing, as well as a taste of how overwrought that affection could become.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Long before he was a sports columnist for the New York Times, native New Yorker Araton grew up loving the Knicks during their championship heyday. Personal significance aside, according to Araton, the teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s “were the city’s first true basketball love, consummated in the years before the romance of sport became complicated by money and the constructed divide between athlete and fan.” Their share-the-wealth success spurred countless books and created several heroes, such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier, who was smooth on and off the court, and inspirational leader Willis Reed, whose dramatic return from a painful knee injury in game seven of the 1970s NBA finals cemented his legend. Araton profiles the team’s construction, its players (some of whom have seen better days since retirement), and the high profile fans ( Woody Allen, Elliot Gould) who may have helped turn pro basketball into a media-savvy, worldwide business. The author’s attempts to tie the era’s political tumult and his own personal experiences to the larger story feel arbitrary and forced, but this thoroughly reported examination of the “Old Knicks” and their connection to the city is still an essential read for basketball history buffs. 8 pages of b&w photo. (Oct.)
Booklist (starred review)
“The coming NBA season may not happen due to labor strife. This book will help fans weatherthe storm by celebrating basketball at its very best: five players working as one, sharing the glory and achieving the ultimate success.”
SLAM magazine
“Beautifully titled, wonderfully written . . . When the Garden Was Eden is a book about the assembly, success and failures of the Red Holzman-coached early ’70s Knicks. But with the then-ongoing Vietnam War and general social unrest serving as the backdrop, it’s actually about so much more than that.”
New York Magazine
“Brilliant . . . smartly written, featuring tons of interviews with the Knicks of the Phil Jackson-Clyde-Reed era.”
Slam magazine
“Beautifully titled, wonderfully written . . . When the Garden Was Eden is a book about the assembly, success and failures of the Red Holzman-coached early ’70s Knicks. But with the then-ongoing Vietnam War and general social unrest serving as the backdrop, it’s actually about so much more than that.”
Booklist
"The coming NBA season may not happen due to labor strife. This book will help fans weatherthe storm by celebrating basketball at its very best: five players working as one, sharing the glory and achieving the ultimate success."
Jonathan Mahler
“Harvey Araton, one of our most cherished basketball writers, has evocatively rendered the team that New York never stops pining for—the Old Knicks. More than a nostalgic chronicle . . . it’s a portrait of a group of proud, idiosyncratic men and the city that needed them.”
Will Leitch
“I wasn’t there when Clyde and Willis and Dollar Bill were lighting up the Garden, let alone barnstorming Philadelphia church basements, but after reading When the Garden Was Eden I now feel like I was courtside with Woody and Dancing Harry.”
Robert Lipsyte
“Harvey Araton, who writes the way Earl the Pearl played, has made the Old Knicks new again. I learned so much and I was there.”
Slam Magazine
"Beautifully titled, wonderfully written . . . When the Garden Was Eden is a book about the assembly, success and failures of the Red Holzman-coached early ’70s Knicks. But with the then-ongoing Vietnam War and general social unrest serving as the backdrop, it’s actually about so much more than that."
Kirkus Reviews
A warm, accessible celebration of the dynamic early-1970s New York Knicks basketball teams. Populated by such colorful personalities as the flashy but cerebral point guard Walt Frazier, silky-smooth combo guard Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, hard-nosed forward/center Willis Reed and quirky bench anchor Phil Jackson, this version of the Knicks is near-legendary, even though they were far from a dynasty, only managing a pair of championships (1970 and 1973). This is arguably one of the few NBA teams that deserves a book-length examination, and veteran New York Times columnist Araton (Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home, 2008, etc.) is the perfect writer for the job. A true fan with terrific access, he interviewed virtually every member of the squad, and he provides a where-are-they-now treatment, which lends context, color and weight to the proceedings. His rendering of the tale of Reed's heroic play in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals in the face of injury is well worth reading, even though it's one of the most-repeated stories in sports history. Knick superfans Spike Lee and Woody Allen are among those who offer their views on the era, and they come off as expected: passionate, knowledgeable and charmingly biased. Some readers may argue that the book could use a bit more objectivity, but by paying homage to this classic team-first Knicks unit, Araton is paying homage the sport itself. An in-depth exploration of a team that is well worthy of such reverential treatment. A must for basketball fans and a super-must for New York sports nuts.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062097057
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/18/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
208,416
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

When the Garden Was Eden

Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks
By Harvey Araton

HarperCollins

Copyright © 2011 Harvey Araton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061956232


Chapter One

DOWN HOME
It was a hot summer night in Ruston, Louisiana.The air inside
Chili's, a bustling outlet just off I-20, was almost heavy enough to
make breathing not worth the effort. The A/C system appeared to
be waging the same losing battle as the makeup on the faces of several
waitresses. But Willis Reed paid the wet heat no mind. He was
much too tickled at tonight's role reversal. Here, a few thousand miles
south of Manhattan, Reed's best buddy and oldest friend—Howard
Brown—was the name brand, the guy with fans clamoring for his
attention, the celebrity.
"That's what happens when you're a teacher and you have a long
career in the same area," said Reed, former NBA champion and
national sports hero. "You know everyone."
Reed and Brown, both age 67, live not far from here on adjacent
properties near the Grambling State University campus where they
once shared a dorm room.
"Howard helped me get the land," Reed said.
"Whenever Willis would come back to visit, he'd stay with me,"
Brown said from the seat across from mine. "And about the time he
was moving back, he said, 'If you want to build a house, why not right
here?' "
The two might as well be brothers, and Reed calls them that. They
met in the late 1950s at the all-black Westside High School, a few
miles away from Bernice, a 30-minute drive north from Ruston. Willis
and Howard both played on Westside High's basketball team, Reed
the star big man and Brown a 6'0" guard who, according to Reed,
never met a shot he didn't like.
Well, only "until it came down to the wire," said Brown. "Then
Coach would say, 'Get it inside'—which meant 'Give it to Willis.' "
Give it to Willis. A smirk grew across Brown's face, and he looked
across the table at Reed: "Remember how Coach Stone would hold the
bus for you?"
Reed cackled at the memory, while Brown narrated:
"We'd all be there, ready to go, except Willis. There was a guy
named Duke who drove the bus, and he'd be looking at Coach, waiting
for him to say, 'Let's go.' But then Coach would stand up, put his
hands in his pocket, and say, 'I've got to go get my keys.' He'd go back
in the building and wait until he saw Willis walking up to the bus.
Then he'd come back on and say, 'Crank it up, Duke.' "
And so the bus would roll with Reed on board, on the way to
another all-black school, another audition for a young man destined
for stardom in the heart of New York. But all of that had happened
decades ago. It was ancient and unknown history to the Chili's crowd,
sweating over their fajitas.
The night manager stopped by our table while making her rounds
to comment on my accent, which doesn't sound too Louisianan.
"He's here to work on a book," Brown informed the perky young
woman.
"Really," she said. "What's it about?"
"This man right here and the basketball team he used to play for,"
Brown said. "This is Willis Reed of the New York Knicks; his photo is
on your wall."
He pointed to the entryway of the restaurant and there it was,
along with other greats from this area, one uncommonly rich in
basketball lore: Bill Russell, a native of Monroe, due east on I-20; Robert
Parish, another Celtics Hall of Fame center, out of Shreveport, an
hour away on the interstate in the other direction; Karl Malone, who
put Ruston's Louisiana Tech on the college basketball map; Orlando
Woolridge, a cousin of Reed's and a gifted kid who played for Digger
Phelps at Notre Dame—on Reed's recommendation—and later in
the NBA; and, of course, Reed himself, who hilariously wasn't good
enough for most of the major universities up north that deigned at the
beginning of the sixties to recruit a player or two from the growing
pool of African Americans.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from When the Garden Was Eden by Harvey Araton Copyright © 2011 by Harvey Araton. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Jonathan Mahler
“Harvey Araton, one of our most cherished basketball writers, has evocatively rendered the team that New York never stops pining for—the Old Knicks. More than a nostalgic chronicle . . . it’s a portrait of a group of proud, idiosyncratic men and the city that needed them.”
Robert Lipsyte
“Harvey Araton, who writes the way Earl the Pearl played, has made the Old Knicks new again. I learned so much and I was there.”
Will Leitch
“I wasn’t there when Clyde and Willis and Dollar Bill were lighting up the Garden, let alone barnstorming Philadelphia church basements, but after reading When the Garden Was Eden I now feel like I was courtside with Woody and Dancing Harry.”

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