Saturday, October 18, 2014

Book Review: "Scribe" by Bob Ryan

Bob Ryan is an award winning sportswriter and columnist for the Boston Globe.   He has been on the job for the Globe since 1970 (although he is semi-retired now).  I first read Bob Ryan sometime back in the early 1970's when he wrote a basketball column for The Sporting News.  He is probably most known these days for his appearances as a talking head on such ESPN shows as The Sports Reporters, Around he Horn, and Pardon the Interruption.  I also hear him on a weekly basis on the podcasts of Tony Kornheiser's Washington DC radio show.  Kornheiser refers to Ryan as "the quintessential American sportswriter" and few other sportswriters would argue the point.

Ryan has finally gotten down to writing a memoir, "Scribe, My Life in Sports".   It was released earlier this month, and I just finished reading it.  As one would expect from Ryan, it is well written, informative, and entertaining.  You an almost hear his voice talking to you, as he would across the desk on PTI or Around the Horn or while having a beer with you at your favorite sports bar as you read it.  

While at the Globe, Ryan spent three separate turns as the beat writer covering the Boston Celtics, so a lot of the book - a LOT - is spent talking about the NBA in general and the Celtics in particular.  If I have on criticism of the book, that would be it, but that said, it was still enjoyable.  Lots of good stories about Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Dave Cowans and other Celtics, and I loved his tales of covering the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics, and his take on the "Who's Better, Michael or LeBron?" arguments.

Some great stories about his youth in Trenton, NJ, and talking about his father, who died when Ryan was 11 years old.

I also like how Ryan dismisses the notion of sportswriters who always say that they don't care about who wins or loses, they aren't fans, and that they always "root for the story".  Well, Ryan calls b.s. on such pretensions, and makes no bones about the fact that he is a Sports FAN, as well as a sports WRITER.  And he is, indeed, the quintessential American sportswriter, so who is going to argue that he is incorrect?

Good book by a great writer.

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