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The Big O Autobiography


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"Oscar Robertson is remarkably honest in his autobiography, The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game. He airs all kinds of grievances – against teammates, coaches, his old front office in Cincinnati, CBS and those dunk-happy players of today – and he doesn't seem to care if he comes off as bitter, angry or even a bit blinded now and then. It's a fun read." —Zack Lowe, SI.com

"...a fascinating first person look at a man who overcame discrimination at nearly every level he participated in, to become perhaps one of the greatest players in the game of basketball...The writing is superb. The story is compelling, and provides a fascinating look at an era that existed before ESPN and wall to wall sports coverage. He gives a revealing look at his life, his struggles, and how he dealt with the hardships he faced. I can't recommend this book enough...It should be required reading for every college and professional athlete." —Steven Leventhal, Booth Reviews / Chicago Now

“The direct link between economic freedom and unfettered self-expression is the unarticulated subtext of the many biographies of stars from this era [the '60s and '70s]. This theme is even more explicit when the athletes tell their own tales, as in basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson's The Big O.

What Curt Flood was to baseball -- the name on the lawsuit that helped change his sport -- Oscar Robertson was to basketball. And The Big O also changed the game by the way he played. He played like Earvin Johnson two decades before Magic entered the league, averaging a triple-double over a five-year period before the phrase had even been invented...He represented a huge step forward in the evolution of the sport's business as well, winning the fight for free agency, which paved the way for basketball to become a global juggernaut in the 1980s.

Robertson v. NBA, while much less ballyhooed than Flood's futile fight, was actually more effective. The NBA finally settled in 1976, two years after Robertson retired, eliminating the option clause and creating free agency. This agreement - and not Robertson's triple-double 1961-62 season or his 1971 championship with the Milwaukee Bucks - is the crowning chapter in The Big O.”
Matt Welch, Reason Magazine [Excerpted from his article "Locker-Room Liberty: Athletes who helped shape our times and the economic freedom that enabled them."]

“Oscar Robertson is an incomparable superstar. He is also a thoughtful man and a man of vision. If you want insight into what formed Oscar in the crucial years of his youth, look here. It’s a great book.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“I remember Oscar Robertson from when I was able to see him play for the Milwaukee Bucks. I enjoyed learning about his life and the earlier part of his career. This is a great book for any Oscar Robertson fan and I enjoyed it very much.” – Stephen Schmidt, Special Olympics coach, Orlando, Florida

“While reading this book I truly began to understand the hardships Oscar had to overcome. He performed his art with dignity and grace while never dwelling upon the problems he incurred. I think every aspiring athlete should read this book so they can fully understand what it takes to be a 'Champ.'” – Dennis Dellefave, Boynton Beach, FL

“If you want to read a good sports bio, try Oscar Robertson's. It's full of great basketball insight and tons of great history lessons. And The Big O was truly ahead of his time in terms of the way he played the game.” – Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Robertson’s new book… blew me away. As much as it hurts… this is a book many should read. History can be an important guidepost. It can show us a place we never want to go again.”
Bob Hunter, The Columbus Dispatch

“Before the legacy of Michael, and the crowning of Kobe and other wannabes, there was "The Big O" - still referred to as "the greatest all-around basketball player ever to play in the NBA" and the very best at what he did .readers learn what motivated him to become the accomplished man he is. This chronicle of a sports legend and his life beyond the athletic arena is definitely worth reading.”
Fred Lindsey, Black Issues Book Review

“This autobiography is great for all basketball fans. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in basketball. It talks about what Oscar Robertson went through on and off the court. The people's attitudes then were shown by racial slurs, which are quoted in the book. Oscar and his black teammates weren't accepted in "white" restaurants, but he wouldn't let it get to him. It is truly a great book about Oscar's career and his era.”
Momo Schlam, age 9

“Oscar, I enjoyed the book very much -- it brought back fond memories -- i.e., early 60's in Cincy --
Ticket to the gardens on Sunday nights “dollar night,” $1.00; two beers at a buck and a half, $3.00; one hot dog, $1.00; total $5.00 Watching you and Russell, Sam, KC, Wilt, Dolph Schayes, West, Elgin, et al do things with a basketball that my buddies and I could only dream about: Priceless.” – Jerry Seuss, Memphis, TN

“I really enjoyed your book, Oscar. For me, the book brought to light the subtle racism that existed in our society during the 50s and 60s. The book is important in that regard. Being white, I was there at the time but didn’t see it... I have recommended your book to many people.”
Bill Noack, Annapolis, MD

“Excellent autobiography, Oscar. I'm a History teacher in California and will be encouraging students to read your story. Not to be sterotypical, but the reality is a lot of my students who play b-ball don't care about history or academics. Your book may a key for them to read about sports and learn some basketball history while simultaneously understanding some of the social history of the 50s-70s, Civil Rights era, etc.” – Andrew Freeman, Arcata, CA

“I just read The Big O: My Life, My Tmes, My Game and was finally able to understand your court demeanor. So glad you tasted the NBA Championship champagne. Mr. W.F. Russell had a lot to say about you and my idol, Jerry West, only winning one title each.” – John Martini, Bedminster, NJ

“It turns out we didn't really know Oscar Robertson. We knew that he was the most complete basketball player of his era, maybe the best ever…in this autobiography, however, Robertson… reveals himself as an angry man, articulate and thoughtful and agitated about the shabby and racist behavior he has encountered throughout his life. A child of poverty and segregation, and later at the forefront of basketball integration and players' rights, Robertson is not shy about pointing out those he feels mistreated him. Robertson makes lengthy but profound observations about basketball, past and present, and muses over why he's never been offered an NBA coaching or front-office job. (He suspects it might be payback for his many confrontations with management as head of the players' association from 1965 to '74.) His writing is brave, intelligent and emotional…”
Stu Hackel, Sports Illustrated

“The attraction of this autobiography is Robertson's perspective on the evolution of the sport and on the racial struggles that were the context of his formative years… While Robertson could have easily candy-coated his impressive record for his retrospective, he devotes large sections of his book to the racial battles he faced off court, and his final chapters recount his controversial efforts as an NBA union leader to create free agency, a pension plan, and disability protection for players. In telling his life story, he lays bare the racism and mistreatment he suffered at the hands of individuals and institutions throughout his career… The Big O offers a complex, human portrait to complement a spectacular sports career.” – Patrick O'Kelley, hallbiographies.com

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