Mr. Montville takes us through all seven games in a pastiche of newspaper stories, radio accounts and his own reminiscences. It is all remarkably engaging, considering that the series took place more than 50 years ago, but it is a 10-page examination of a 6-second play in Game 4, at Boston Garden, that gives the book the feel of a classic ... It is true that Tall Men, Short Shorts has a Boston orientation. But Mr. Montville makes brave tries at balance.
The story lines he had to work with — Celtics vs. Lakers, all-time champion Bill Russell vs. one-of-a-kind Wilt Chamberlain, Red Auerbach’s sneaky savvy vs. Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke’s open checkbook, the Athens of America vs. Hollywood — will still enthrall fans of the game, more than a half-century later ... Montville follows multiple threads. He describes his own arrival as a sportswriter, contrasting the old school of gameday reporters, '[p]erfunctory and dull,' against the 'new journalism' of his generation ... The casual racism of the era rears its ugly head more than once. Some of the older writers referred to the game they were covering as 'African handball.' Today’s Montville makes clear that he wishes he’d done more to call out those writers.
... a wonderful bit of autobiographical writing, a reflection on the beginnings of a storied career. Those moments of memory and memoir are what elevate this book from what would be a perfectly adequate work of sports history into something more, a wry look back from someone who understands that the person he once was had a lot to learn ... Montville’s memories of those games are as enthralling a snapshot as anything you’ll find in the most meticulously researched work of sports history ... Those two things – basketball and the act of writing about basketball – come together beautifully throughout the book. It’s a clever and compelling marriage, with the basketball action blending with the journalistic realities and becoming a story that is somehow both and neither ... a killer basketball book.