Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jack McCallum's Unfinished Business

I finished Jack McCallum's book, Unfinished Business.  The book chronicles the 1990-1991 Boston Celtic Season.  During that time frame I wasn't a Celtics fan as they continually beat up on my Hawks. That said I did respect them and that respect has only grown throughout the years.  The Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish era was truly a great time in Boston and the NBA for that matter.  The book provided me more insight into the players than I've ever gotten before.  During their playing days my only view of the players came from their games on cable or the NBA publications I subscribed to (Hoop Magazine & NBA Digest).  Local papers in small towns where I lived didn't carry much NBA coverage, if any.  So it wasn't until later in life that I learned how funny Kevin McHale is, how much of a loner Parish was, or that Larry Bird really was this big trash talker.  That is where these books are great.  You get that insight.  I wish I had read this book in 1992 when it was published.  It would have helped me to know who these greats of the NBA were while I could still see them live.

I've known this book was held in great regard among NBA books and it quickly moved to the top of my reading list when I found it for $5 at a collectibles show in October.  This was
one of the last years of the Larry-Kevin-Robert trio.  In fact this would be Bird's next to last season in the NBA.  It details Chris Ford's first year as the Boston coach and an era of when the younger Celtics were looked to to make a contribution as that of Larry-Kevin-Robert declined.  Injuries played a big part of the big three's issues as well as age itself.  For his part, Parish actually stayed healthy in the regular season.  It was an unlikely season where Boston entered the playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference after a year in which they started strong but injuries derailed the season.    In the playoffs they reached the second round only to lose to bitter rival Detroit.  Again injuries took their toll.  Back to the title of the book, these Celtics were so good that until injuries did them in, it looked like they were a true title contender. 

While that is the framework of the book, the fun is in the details.  The behind the scenes stuff about the players, coaches and management.  McCallum does a good job giving each their space in the book and letting us get to know them while keeping a good pace.  Sometimes it is hard because I may have seen players in a different light in 1991-1992 even though I really didn't know much about them.  Again it is a good book, and a fun read and I expect anyone who likes the NBA should enjoy this book. 

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