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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  273 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
In the mid-1950s, the NBA was a mere barnstorming circuit, with outposts in such cities asRochester, New York, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Most of the best players were white; the set shot and layup were the sport's chief offensive weapons. But by the 1970s, the league ruled America'
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Published October 11th 2005 by Random House Publishing Group (first published 2005)
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Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a game where your team is down by 20 points after the 1st quarter and they claw their way back for a win, this book did the same.
It started out slow and tedious. Reading like a school textbook, taking way too much time introducing Russell & Chamberlain, and going off on too many unnecessary tangents.
But after the initial growing pains, it rebounded nicely and flowed very smoothly, describing not just the action on the court, but also detailing a very interesting and entertaining in-dept
Connor Winn
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great biography and early history of the league.
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great sports book! Definitely glad I didn't add Chamberlain to my All-NBA team.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport, history
one of my favorite reads - meshing interesting and true characters or events with all the other forces and issues at play during the time

unedited notes from an email to a friend about this book:

the author covers all the major players and important milestones that took pro basketball from a second-rate sport to its world-wide success today.

Over the years I've read biographies on Auerbach, Cousy, Chamberlain, Russell, West, and had a good background on all the stuff that went on behind the scenes.
Mindaugas Mozūras
I liked the book, it was an easy read. I also found it a bit simplistic. "The Rivalry" touches a lot of things but doesn't go in-depth on any of them.
Brad Hayes
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written dual biography of two complex individuals, but also a fascinating history of the early NBA.
Kale Gardner
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the the story "The Rivalry" written by John Taylor the main person is Wilt Chamberlain who had a very prideful and cocky attitude towards others and basketball. For example, Wilt thinks that he is the best player ever in the history of basketball and said things like, "I'm the only important one on the team, the others don't matter at all (Taylor 107)." Wilt Chamberlain was the top pick in the 1959 draft from Kansas. He stood 7 feet tall and he was so athletic that every single team so despar ...more
Fausto Betances
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Miscellaneous comments and takeaways:

Walter A. Brown, founder of the Celtics gave Red Auerbach a chance mainly because his partner made it a condition for doing business together.
He allowed Red to be the first coach to select a black college player for a NBA team. Act quickly followed by others during the same draft (1957?).

Syracuse team owner (Bleasone)??? came up with the idea of the shot clock in part to avoid the tactic of freezing the ball by teams that were winning the game. That practice
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Chamberlain was deceased when this was written, and Russell refused to be interviewed. He's therefore limited to third parties, which doesn't help much with issues such as why Russell and Chamberlain didn't speak to each other for a couple of decades after their careers ended. Stronger on topics such as Russell's resentment of racism in Boston, on which there's an extensive paper trail (Sports Illustrated articles he wrote, etc.).

The author had not been a basketball writer or expert, so his game
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, history
A must read for anyone interested in the history of the NBA. This book is more than an account of the epic on-court battles between Russell and Chamberlain, although those battles do get plenty of ink. The best chapters and passages are devoted to conversations, developments, and events that took place off the court. Taylor adeptly places the growth of the NBA in 1950s and 1960s in the greater historical context of the time, describing Russell's role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and ...more
Ian Hietala
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I still don't know how to put it as great, fantastic, or amazing, maybe all. John Taylor, back in 2005, has made the most, uplifting and most interesting book, about the two great NBA players to ever live. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, had great careers, including Wilt's 100 point game, and Russell's greatest defensive performance in NBA history. Its's the kind of novel, or biography that can just blow your mind, but it also can be a page flipper at every corner. John taylor can be very ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish I could give this book a 3.5 or a 3.75 under GoodReads' system - It's better than a 3, but not in the league of books I've read that have an average rating of 4 or higher like Moneyball or Breaks of the Game. Overall the books is a well-written, very readable narrative of the rivalry between the game's two icons of the 1960's, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell and its impact in the culture at large, but Taylor provides far less narrative on their impact on the culture and the civil ...more
Mar 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basketball fans
Shelves: nonfiction
The Rivalry is a good, all-encompassing account of the NBA's growth from the barnstorming league of the late 50s to the emerging major league of the late 60s, focusing in particular on the individual rivalry between Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, and on the contrast between the two men. The book is a bit simplistic, and is a bit too hard on Chamberlain sometimes for my tastes - he was, without question, the better player - but this is a really good starting point for people who are looking t ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed history of the first successful peak in NBA history, Taylor provides a warts and all view of some early NBA legends and the circumstances behind their successes and failures. He has a careful eye for the early coaches and the sweeping social change that impacted the game positively and there are a dozen or more crystal clear vignettes that will help any fan of the game appreciate the unique circumstances of the 50's and 60's NBA.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an honest, well written account of the birth of basketsball as a major league sport. It chronicled the development of the league itself through the rivalry between 2 of its best players. It also addressed the hypocrisy these players faced playing to white crowds, in white cities during the 50s and 60s. I truly enjoyed it.
Dick Hamilton
Growing up, Wilt was my favorite basketball player and beyond that just an incredible athlete. This is a good book really focusing in on Russell and Chamberlain and the real golden age of basketball (sorry Michael, Larry, Magic, etc. but you are not it). Most interesting, there are no pictures in the book and I think this adds to the story. Two thumbs up.
Zapp Brettigan
Heavily biased towards Russell. Yes he achieved team success, but... I guess it's easier to go easier on the living than it is on the dead - only one person from this rivalry is around to defend themselves.
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really well-written history of the era. I didn't think a basketball book could be so readable...set against the backdrop of Boston and Philadelphia in the early 1960s. Fascinating, page-turning stuff.
Robert Morrow
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best book on basketball I've ever read.
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent!!! Loved it
David Barney
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. Once again, Wilt Chamberlain is portrayed as a loser. The book does good job of explaining the rivalry.
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Great book about the golden age of basketball - unbelievable what these guys put themselves through for the game.
May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best basketball books I have ever read. Having been a fan during this era, enjoyed this volume immensely.
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it was a good book.
Paul Weaver
A great story. Author was not a sportswriter, so some of the terminology was a bit off.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book - makes you realize how overrated Wilt is and how dedicated Bill Russell was to winning and be educated within the game!

Gotta read it if you are a fan of basketball.
Matt Kearney
rated it liked it
Jul 03, 2012
Makenzie Dolnick
rated it really liked it
Nov 16, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Nov 22, 2017
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John Taylor is the author of Girl is Not a Number. Though he has a number of other books in process, this is the only book published at this time.

More about John Taylor...