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King of the Court

Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution

Aram Goudsouzian (Author), Harry Edwards (Foreword)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 448 pages
ISBN: 9780520269798
May 2010
$34.95, £28.00
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Bill Russell was not the first African American to play professional basketball, but he was its first black superstar. From the moment he stepped onto the court of the Boston Garden in 1956, Russell began to transform the sport in a fundamental way, making him, more than any of his contemporaries, the Jackie Robinson of basketball. In King of the Court, Aram Goudsouzian provides a vivid and engrossing chronicle of the life and career of this brilliant champion and courageous racial pioneer. Russell’s leaping, wide-ranging defense altered the game’s texture. His teams provided models of racial integration in the 1950s and 1960s, and, in 1966, he became the first black coach of any major professional team sport. Yet, like no athlete before him, Russell challenged the politics of sport. Instead of displaying appreciative deference, he decried racist institutions, embraced his African roots, and challenged the nonviolent tenets of the civil rights movement. This beautifully written book—sophisticated, nuanced, and insightful—reveals a singular individual who expressed the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. while echoing the warnings of Malcolm X.
Aram Goudsouzian is Associate Professor of History at the University of Memphis and the author of Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon.
“All students of the game will feast on King of the Court. “—Library Journal
“Very much worth reading. If you don’t know much about Russell, this is a good place to start. If you do, it will help place him in context.—Providence Journal
“Goudsouzian captures the complexities of the man behind the fame, both his strengths and his foibles.”—Choice
“A full, authoritative, incredibly well-researched biography of Russell's life and career, just dense with information on every page.”—ESPN
“It is all here for the reader to savor in this fine new addition to the history of sport.”—Journal Of American History
“A complicated, interesting man, that Bill Russell. That makes it a daunting task for a biographer to sort everything out. So kudos to Aram Goudsouzian. . . . "King of the Court" [is] probably the best one-stop of account of the life of one of sport's true individuals.”—Sports Book Review Center
“A provocative, informative, detailed, critical, and balanced work.”—Harry Reed The Sixties
"King of the Court provides a highly nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the great African American basketball player from his earliest days up to the present time. With great skill and much insight, Goudsouzian makes clear that Russell was a very complicated man who was full of contradictions in his own private life and in relationship to his business associates, teammates, opponents, the media, and the larger sporting public."—David K.Wiggins, George Mason University

"Not only is King of the Court one of the most impressive and important sports biographies to come along in many a season, easily in the same class as David Maraniss's When Pride Still Mattered (on Vince Lombardi) and Wil Haygood's Sweet Thunder (on Sugar Ray Robinson), it is also one of the truly incisive books on the intersection of race, civil rights, and popular culture that have appeared in some time. Having grown up in Philadelphia, I was always a Wilt Chamberlain man and always will be, but King of the Court convinced me that Bill Russell defined his age in ways that Chamberlain never did. Russell was a man for all seasons. This is a biography befitting Russell's stature."—Gerald Early, author of One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture

"Before there were crossover dribbles or slam dunk competitions, before they even kept statistics for blocked shots, Bill Russell dominated the game we call basketball. The respect he demanded as a black man during America's turbulent Civil Rights era made him the personification of a winner in life. King of the Court, like Russell's defense, locks it down, and puts it all in its proper context. Long live the King!"—Dr. Todd Boyd, author of Young, Black, Rich, and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip Hop Invasion, and the Transformation of American Culture

"Bill Russell's life story is only incidentally about basketball. For him the sport was not a life; it was his vehicle for social change, a platform that showcased his vision for America as much as his athletic talent. In his magnificent biography, Aram Goudsouzian captures the nuance and meaning of Russell's career. After reading the book, one will never look at Russell or sports in quite the same way."—Randy Roberts, Purdue University

"Brings back the excitement of the great days of the NBA and its legendary players, led by the king of them all, Bill Russell. Best book I've read on basketball in 40 years."—Bill McSweeny, co-author, with Bill Russell, of Go Up for Glory

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