Rich Cohen writes … and writes and writes and writes.
This little one of Glencoe, Illinois is among the many most prolific writers on the planet and the surprise of all of it is that not solely does he present a gentle stream of books, they’re excellent books.
There have been 16 up to now, starting with “Tough Jews” in 1998. Some have been based mostly on his personal attention-grabbing life, one about one among his sons in 2021′s “Pee Wees: Confession of a Hockey Parent” and one other about his fascinating father, 2022′s “The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World’s Greatest Negotiator.” He’s written a couple of pirate and a banana enterprise mogul, and collaborated on the memoir of producer Jerry Weintraub in “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead,” and written about Chess Records and the Rolling Stones.
All the whereas he has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal, the place he’s presently a columnist. He and his spouse Jessica Medoff reside in Connecticut the place they’re elevating their 4 boys.
He has been no stranger to the native sports activities world and its gloried previous, giving us “Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” and “The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse.”
In his newest, basketball has middle stage. “When the Game Was War: The NBA’s Greatest Season,” is a fascinating and enlightening journey. His assertion, “greatest season,” is daring, for there have been many nice seasons within the NBA since its formation in 1946 and positively some will argue together with his declare. But learn the ebook and you’ll come away swayed.
This new ebook focuses on 4 groups and 4 transcendent gamers: Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.
There is, as with most of Cohen’s work, a really private really feel, as when he writes, “You wouldn’t think a single basketball game could turn a person into a fanatic, but that’s what happened.”
That sport, actually the seed of this ebook, was Game 6 of the 1988 NBA finals. Cohen was 19 when he watched the Los Angeles Lakers play the Detroit Pistons. He watched Thomas, product of our tough and tumble West Side basketball courts, rating 25 factors within the third quarter. The Pistons misplaced that sport however, writes Cohen, “that’s the night I fell in love with the NBA.”
Part of the rationale, he precisely claims, is that “for a Chicago sports fan in the early 1980s, life was pain.” And then the Super Bowl after which, like some type of miracle, got here Michael Jordan.
As you little doubt know, there are millions of YouTube clips of the on-court previous, to not point out the latest deep dive of Netflix’s 2020 miniseries, “The Last Dance.” Some of that’s thrilling however these clips and program lack the element, background, texture and driving narrative that Cohen so artfully supplies. He is an intimate observer and polished author.
The Big Four have a fabulous and proficient supporting forged. As few have ever identified or realized, the 1987-88 NBA season featured essentially the most future Hall of Famers competing at one time in any given season. There have been 29 of them. When Cohen advised player-coach-executive Danny Ainge, who was a member of the Celtics in 87-88 season, of that statistic, Ainge mentioned, “I haven’t done the math but it doesn’t surprise me. You could feel it. … That year was the peak of a kind of basketball you don’t see in the league anymore. The physicality, the toughness.”
Ainge, for thus lengthy a participant simple to hate, comes off appealingly. That’s true of lots of the dozens Cohen interviewed. Most of these names — Bernard King, Charles Oakley, Bill Cartwright, Ok.C. Jones and lots of others — will spark light recollections. Cohen, due to his father’s fondness for the sport and his lifelong friendship with Larry King, gave Cohen first-hand recollections of seeing Thomas as a highschool participant and later the possibility to share a meal with King and Boston coach Red Auerbach in 1986, all the way down to the “we ate peeled shrimp and gumbo” element.
There is one thing to savor on nearly each web page of this ebook. Particularly compelling is its 30-some remaining pages, a chapter titled “Post-Game,” by which Cohen writes, “On the desk where I write, I have a brick that was once part of the Chicago Stadium. To me, it’s a remnant as sacred as the stones of the Western Wall. … It conjures a time when the game was better than it had ever been, or will be. … It might be more than basketball I am remembering. It might be my childhood, when my parents were young and my life was new.”
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