Gannett News Service
NBA Hardwood Classics: The Player and the Coach, 8 p.m., History Channel.
A half-century ago basketball was a different game. It was often slow, sometimes dull and mostly played by white players.
Then Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach hired center Bill Russell in 1956.
Basketball cynics said Russell had no offensive skills and couldn't be coached. He'd spent his college years arguing with a coach who felt players shouldn't jump on defense.
Social cynics felt that Boston, which was slow to embrace integration in other sports, wouldn't be interested in a black star.
All were wrong, of course. In 1959, the Celtics started a string of eight straight championships. They triumphed as a racially mixed team and (later) as the first NBA team with an all-black starting lineup. The sport's popularity soared.
This fascinating documentary catches Russell and many of his teammates. It adds perspective from such people as Sports Illustrated reporter Frank Deford, former Georgetown University coach John Thompson and athlete-activist Jim Brown.
Joan of Arcadia," 8 p.m., Channels 12, 7. Adam turns resentful when Joan's mom criticizes his art project.
Big casting change on Joey, NBC's hotly anticipated Friends spin-off starring Matt LeBlanc as dim-witted aspiring actor Joey Tribbiani.
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey), who appeared in the pilot as Joey's sexy (married) next-door neighbor in L.A., is out, NBC confirms. Her scenes will be reshot, with the new character being single and a potential love interest for Joey.
Joey, co-starring The Sopranos' Drea de Matteo as Tribbiani's tightly wound sister and Paulo Costanzo (Road Trip) as her braniac college son, scored highly with test audiences and is expected to be one of the few sure-fire fall hits.
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