Slow Turning

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REVIEW: The Book of Basketball

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This is probably the longest book I’ve ever read.  It took a lot to read it cover to cover, but I powered through!  

After reading the book, here are the thoughts stayed with me:

The Secret – While it happens with some NBA teams, I think it’s what fuels college basketball and, ultimately, makes college basketball more entertaining to watch.

Rick Barry – The thought of any basketball player wearing a wig is endlessly funny.  The fact that it was the player who granny shot his free throws makes it priceless.

Jerry Sloan – I really felt the comments about Coach Sloan in TBOB.

Footnotes – I don’t think footnotes have ever been more enjoyable.  I was surprised at the number of footnotes, they definitely impacted the length of the book, but they also added a lot flavor.  My favorite footnote is on page 664.

Michael Jordan – This is more of an observation.  I agree with Jordan’s rank, but what I found interesting was how Simmons described the societal impact on players like Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, and Elgin Baylor: Just because America changed over the last four decades doesn’t mean those guys stopped remembering the way it used to be (page 532).  When talking about Jordan, Simmons touches on society enabling Jordan (Our society enable the competitor that Michael Jordan became, pages 606-607) but he doesn’t really dive into Jordan’s impact on society.  He talks about Jordan’s ability to command an arena as a player and influence basketball people but he doesn’t elaborate on Jordan’s cultural impact, which I think should be factored into Jordan’s rank. 

Jordan’s influence isn’t limited to only basketball; he’s influenced a generation of athletes that aren’t confined to a sport or geographic region.  He has not only basketball players but baseball, football, and track stars that represent his label.  Dwyane Wade had his own shoe with Converse, but gave that up to sign with Jordan!  He is a worldwide superstar and, with apologies to Jerry West, it’s the Air Jordan symbol that comes to mind when I think of the NBA.

Allen Iverson – By far and away, the section on AI was my favorite part of the book.  I love watching AI play basketball.  He has talent and basketball skill, but it’s his heart that always catches my eye when he’s playing.  You know it’s him by the way he moves on the court.  Does that mean he’s always perfect or never frustrating?  No.  I don’t know why he’s clashed with his coaches and teammates over the years, but he dials into a game like no other player. 

I love the story of his sheer will preventing the second technical from being called on him.  I don’t agree with the referee intimidation (see Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.  I still contend that the refs were too scared to make a call after the Dallas fans started celebrating.  The UW-Texas Tech 2009 game refs did a much better job.); however that story is perfect Iverson – an unstoppable force.

I want it stated for the record, even if I am the only one reading the record, that I never noticed Iverson’s tattoos, cornrows, or do-rags.  I was so surprised by the “controversy” surrounding his appearance, that I was unnerved when he was on Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith.  I had no idea until that interview that his appearance mattered to anyone, let alone was a factor in their opinion of him. 

The Book of Basketball brings to life stories and career highlights of players I’ll never be able to see play live.  Much thanks to Jabaal Abdul-Simmons for an interesting and comical take on basketball that includes way too many numbers!


Written by rachel

December 6, 2009 at 11:22 pm

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