One of the true legends of the NBA, Jerry West, recently released a new book entitled: My Charmed, Tormented Life and it's nothing short of fantastic. There are all sorts of fascinating revelations in it, many of which have been reviewed by several blogs and sites already. As with other books, I'll provide some of the Celtics-related items from it. I recommend reading it regardless of that however and I'll also include a few other things that may not have been discussed yet.
On the Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain Relationship: Beginning on page 105, West delves into a complicated piece of their relationship, where Russell resented Wilt for not re-entering the final moments of Game 7 from the 1969 NBA Finals. He wanted Wilt to be in there, but West does say that nobody (not even Red Auerbach) knew it was Russell's final game nor did Russell know that Wilt asked to go back in, but Butch van Breda Koff (then LA's coach) refused to put him back in. Since then, Russell has admitted it was his mistake.
On his dislike of the color green: "That feeling of having been a prince far more than a king continues to gnaw at me. I dislike the color green, I rarely go to Boston. Is this, any of this, in any way rational? No, of course it isn't, but then again, neither am I."
On Red Auerbach, The Celtics and The Boston Garden: Beginning on page 121, he describes losing to the Celtics for the third time in four years and how badly his coach, Fred Schaus wanted to beat Red. He said that Red knew how to get under Schaus' skin, but he also could under anyone's skin. West felt that Red had an advantage with the officials because he knew how to bait them and intimidate them without taking it too far to "get his ass thrown out." West also said that Red knew how to work the sportswriters too, describing how the 1963 All-Star game felt like it was being played in Boston even though it was in Los Angeles.
This one one of the best quotes by West about Red: "Red understood how psychology could play such a cruical part. How creating just the slightest bit of doubt in the other team could result in something positive for the Celtics."
Here are the the other excerpts regarding the C's, Red, and how the Boston Garden was his LEAST favorite place to play:
On Roster Limits: On page 137, West describes how he's never liked the 15 man roster limit, and thinks teams fill up rosters just because every other team does, thus wasting too much money.
On John Wooden's Coaching Interview with the Lakers: On page 139, he tells the fantastic story about how then the notorious Lakers owner, Jack Kent Cooke kicked UCLA legend John Wooden out of his office because he had no intention of becoming a professional coach, regardless of money.
On Kareem's First Favorite NBA Team: On page 161, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar admits that he was initially a big Celtics fan, mainly because the Knicks were terrible (he is from NYC) and he had met Bill Russell and felt Russ was a great role model for him.
More from Kareem:On page 163, he describes how Jerry can be your friend for life as long as he hears your appreciation and respect. He goes on to say: "The Lakers, they are not like that. They may say they are, but you don't feel it."
On Acquiring Shaq: Chapter 6 is an absolute must read describing the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal Era. On page 171 and 172, he said that when the NBA launched a tampering investigation regarding the free agent signing of Shaq, Red was the first to stand up for West calling 'sour grapes' on the NBA.
On Trading for Kobe: On pages 170-171, he describes how the draft day deal almost fell through because Vlade Divac threatened to retire if he got traded. (Ugh Vlade you SHOULD have retired!!!)
On Kobe's Mindset:Describing Kobe on page 173: "He had a showboat style and a bottomless reservoir of drive that fueled him; he wasn't content just to beat people, he had to embarrass them, even players on his own team."
On a Deep and Cryptic Letter that his Wife Karen Wrote to Jerry Buss: From pages 182-184 he describes how he was feeling towards the end of his tenure as GM for the Lakers. His depression was so bad that he was ready to leave the Lakers and his family, prompting a striking letter from Karen to Jerry Buss. You'll have to read the entire thing, but it's very serious and even more amazing is that Buss never responded to her or West about it.
On the Celtics' 2008 Championship and Paul Pierce: On page 191 he briefly discusses this, and says that "most people didn't even know how great Paul Pierce was…" until the arrival of KG and Ray.
On Rick Barry and Larry Bird: On page 253, he wonders to himself if Rick Barry wasn't as good as Larry Bird, but only overlooked because of his attitude.
On the Pau Gasol/Lakers Trade: On page 289, he seems adamant about how he merely suggested that Pau may be available in a trade and that was all.
Other Notes: West also comes up with his dream game that would be played at Madison Square Garden. It's a fun read with rosters he chooses, and also lists a bunch of players he felt are ofter overlooked.