This afternoon I just finished the book "Basketball: A Love Story". This book was on my must read list since right before Xmas. I got it as a gift, and it finally found its way into my rotation about a month ago. I am a slow reader, but this book is stuffed with all kinds of wonderful basketball stories. Rafe Bartholomew, Dan Klores, and especially Jackie MacMullan, have done something magical with this book.
For those that may now know, "BALS" is pretty simple when broken down. The book is pretty much a series of interviews in every chapter. They have a topic, they talk to some of the prominent figures from that topic and each writer adds a bit more info in the middle or end of each chapter. There are also some tremendous photos in this book as well. When you break it down a bit more, the book is so much more special.
Some of the things that the writers touch on, and get the interviewees to talk about are simply astounding. The whole chapter that is dedicated to the racism in the early stages of the sport was eye opening. Hearing Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell talk about some of the horrific things they had to deal with was harrowing. I couldn't believe that stars as big as them dealt with the idiocy and maliciousness of racism. It was nuts to hear Russell talk about leaving a hotel because they wouldn't allow his teammates that weren't white to stay there. Also, hearing about the whole "quota system" they had when integrating the league was bizarre and stupid. I cannot believe this sport used to do things like this. It was sickening. The NBA has come a long, long way. I also enjoyed the ABA chapter. What I loved about this chapter so much was, I have read "Loose Balls", which is extraordinary, and I highly recommend that book, it was like an extra chapter from that book. They told new, and different stories that I didn't read about in "Loose Balls". It was the same thing with the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird chapter. I've also read MacMullan's book on the two of them, and this chapter in "BALS" was another great extension.
What separates this book from other basketball books for me was the wide swath of subjects they talked about. I talked about the racism, Magic versus Bird and ABA stuff. There were also chapter dedicated to the Duke-UNC rivalry. They also gave Dean Smith and early UNC an entire chapter, which made me respect the hell out of Smith and that program. Their chapter on the influence to the foreign game was excellent. To hear about young Arvdyas Sabonis was awesome. I forgot how great a player like Sarinlous Marcilonus was. Drazen Petrovic could have been one of the greatest if not for his accident. Yao Ming was an exceptional talent. Toni Kukoc, Peja Stojakavic and Vlade Divac were very open. It might have been my favorite chapter. I also loved the chapters where players simply talked about their love for the game. I adored the chapters about Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma, the Tennessee-UCONN women's rivalry and the beginning of the WNBA. It makes me want to start watching the WNBA again.
"Basketball A Love Story" is a tremendous read. It is a must for hard core NBA fans, and I think even the casual fan would find it illuminating. This book is a work of art, and I know that this will not be the only time I read it. This is a multiple read for me. Check it out. This book rules.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He wishes a book would cover the golden retriever takeover of American sports. Air Bud needs his due.
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