“The Last Pass: Cousy, Russell, the Celtics and What Matters in the End” written and narrated by Gary M. Pomerantz
Basketball, professional, biography, race, Celtics, audio book.
October 23, 2018
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Some consider the Boston Celtics of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when the team won 11 championships in 13 seasons, to be the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports. The two players who were most important to these Celtics teams were Bob Cousy and Bill Russell. This excellent book focuses on Cousy’s life, but the driving theme is the relationship between these two iconic Celtics, especially Cousy’s self-questioning about whether he truly had done enough to help his teammate deal with the racism Russell faced in those times.
The book starts with the thoughts of Cousy, now over 90 years old, expressing regrets over how he handled his relationship with Russell. From there, Pomerantz smoothly tells the story of Bob Cousy, from his childhood in which his father was abused by his mother, his difficulty with speaking English (his first language was French) and to his basketball career. He achieved success at Holy Cross in college before his time in Boston, where he was the flashy point guard for the first six of the Celtics 11 titles, in which Russell was a key player for all of them.
While the book paints a terrific picture of NBA basketball, the Celtics and Cousy’s brilliance on the court, those are not what make this book one that must be read. The reader will learn about not only Cousy the player and Cousy the man, but also about his family and friendships as well. His beloved wife Missy passed away after more than fifty years of marriage. He maintained friendships with many teammates throughout the years, including with coach Red Auerbach. But he always had troubling thoughts about Russell and whether he did enough for not only the man, but for the man’s cause and rights.
The book will not answer those questions for either Cousy or the reader, but with the current state of racial issues in the country, it makes sense to show that there are still many unanswered questions. Yes, this is a biography of a basketball legend – but it is also so much more.
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