Book/Movie Title: Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics
Total Pages/Duration: 226 (hardcover version)
Author/Director: Dan Shaughnessy
Pace of Play: Just like the 80’s Celtics, this book is fast paced in spurts with most of the action bunched in the middle. Motivated readers (i.e., Boston folks) will finish this in one sitting while most will take 2-3 days.
Strengths: The driving force of this book is the collection of Red Auerbach stories that are peppered in from start to finish. It makes the reader feel like Red is always there and that he could appear at any moment (not too different than his actual behavior).
Weaknesses: The author spends a little too much time talking about himself, his road to working the Celtics Beat, and the good old days of sports journalism (we think the first 40 pages of a 226-page book is too much time). While the book title indicates all stories would flow through Larry Legend, he does not pop up too often. It’s kind of like of all those Netflix movies with Bruce Willis on the movie poster. When you actually watch them, he shows up for about 12 minutes (and they are terrible). It would have been more appropriate to include Red Auerbach in the title of this book. There certainly seem to be more stories about him than Larry Bird.
Unique Attributes: What this book lacks in new Larry Bird stories it makes up for in tales involving other team members. Bill Walton stories and his relationship to the Grateful Dead were particularly interesting as was learning which 1980’s in-flight movie was playing during various road trips. And perhaps the guiltiest pleasures came when reading about Bill Fitch’s slow demise as head coach. Random factoids are also presented and will keep you engaged. Did you know tanking was an issue way back in 1983? It was and it led to the creation of the lottery which delivered Michael “Air” Jordan to the Chicago Bulls and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon to the Houston Rockets.
Scout’s Recommendations: In a recent episode of Family Guy, the lovable Homer Simpson rip-off Peter Griffin had to come to terms with the 80’s being dead. His jokes and gags no longer got laughs and no one understood his dated references. His family begged him to let the 80’s go which he did with some help from John Hughes. Had Dan Shaughnessy seen this episode prior to writing Wish It Lasted Forever, he may not have written it. While very interesting at times, this book seemed like an unnecessary trip down memory lane. Perhaps its creation was brought on by the confines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe it started as a memoir of sorts, meant to be passed around to old colleagues and basketball insiders. Whatever the reason, reading this book is just another reminder that the 80’s ARE dead. We recommend you skip this one unless you’re a Boston Celtics fan.