(About a week ago, Joe Swide, a writer for VICE Sports and my editor over at Portland Roundball Society, asked me if I wanted to review a book for the site. I said “Sure” and he said “It’s on it’s way!” But in the week since then, panic has set in. I haven’t written about a book since I studied literature in college! I needed practice. So I went to My Local Library and picked up some books about basketball and read them. Here is my very important writing about those books.)
Glen Macnow’s book about Charles Barkley is a myth-making undertaking. Barkley crawls from the sludge of Leeds, Alabama, Six-Four if he was a foot, dominating his opponents and enemies and never looking back at the trail of destruction he sewed. When he was a young boy, he spent whole afternoons trying to leap over a four foot tall fence. He wrecked Bobby Lee Young, a Seven foot tall young man who was the best player in Alabama before Young Barkley’s 25 point, 20 performance turned him into a muttering catatonic. His appetite for victory was only rivaled by his craving for food; a list of buffets he put out of business takes up three pages in the middle of the book. Only the sage advice of Julius “Dr. J” Erving* got him to but down the turkey leg and pick up the medicine ball. A computer that tried to track his production broke. He picked up a 200 pound weight and used it to scratch his head. He hosted a beloved Philadelphia area radio show that helped to dismantle that city's political machinery in 1989:
Taken with what we know about Barkley that they wouldn’t write about in a book for children his proclivities for gambling, drinking, being amongst the people and occasionally throwing them through plate glass windows, this book makes Barkley into the Robert Baratheon of basketball. Wielding the hammer and winning the hearts of the people.
There were THREE WHOLE BOOKS about Jeremy Lin at the library. There is a cottage industry around books about Jeremy Lin written for children.
THis one was written by Marty Gitlin for the “Playmakers” series, which also includes volumes about Kevin Durant, Eli Manning and Timothy “Tim” Tebow. It is not a good book. It has a lot of unnerving sentences in it. Here are some:
“The new superstar of the New York Knicks glared at Toronto Raptors defender Jose Calderon”
“His parents were both 5-foot-6. Most NBA players have tall parents.”
“Shirley would arrive early for his games. She also would study the statistics of his opponents.”
“But he did not catch the attention of many Division I college basketball programs. Division I is the highest level of college sports.”
“His website received 20,000 views the day he signed.”
The book goes out of its way to not mention Carmelo Anthony. When nearly all books and internet are consumed by dragonfire and this book is the only remaining document of Jeremy Lin’s time as a New York Knick, people will be deeply confused as to why the Knicks fell apart at the end of that season and D’Antoni got fired. It is an incomplete history at best. Do not read this book.
I thought this book was about the Minnesota TImberwolves, because it was filed with the other basketball books. It was not, it was about actual wolves. It is a complete failure as a basketball book, but I did learn cool stuff about wolves and saw a picture of the world’s most fucked buffalo:
You can’t see it, but the guy on the top right there’s mouth is covered in blood. She means business. Look, Buffalo. Your life is about to end, and that sucks, but take solace in the knowledge that life is an ordeal, and death might be a blessing when you are reborn in livestock heaven.
This is a book about the Utah Jazz. It describes John Stockton has having a “Boy next door smile.” I don’t think I have ever seen John Stockton smile. There are picture of Stockton smiling in the book, but I honestly don’t believe them, they are too disassociating, I think they are photoshop trickery. There is also a whole chapter about the team’s then recently dead owner Larry Miller. If your kid is reading this book and gets super amped for reading about Larry Miller, you need to give him a skateboard and tell him to go outside and hurt himself, because he is terminally uncool. He might actually die from uncoolness. He’s not even the best Larry Miller! I skimmed this one, it was a little too long and boring and I don’t care about the Utah Jazz so much.
If you feel like your child is still a little young for the Undisputed Guide, I think this book is probably a good stopgap. It has lots of words and information about great historical teams. “There weren’t any jokes in this one.” Yeah, well, sometimes life doesn’t have jokes. Joe Giglio: I tip my hat to you and your good book.
This book is barely a book. It is a collection of pictures. It purports to tell its readers how to play basketball.
“Basketball is a fun game.” SURE, RIGHT. Let’s just IGNORE all of the social and aesthetic angles of basketball. This breeds ignorance into the mind of every people who reads this book. When you start from that place, “Basketball is supposed to be fun!” you will always get dragged back, kicking and screaming. What if you’re trying to derive MEANING from something or explore the outer edges of basketball as a statistical construct!? If, as a child, you were tethered to the pole of “Fun” it is going to yank on your chain when start to stroll into “Basketball in an IMPORTANT game.” Also, does basketball really need to be played with a round ball!? You could play basketball with a football. It would be interesting! Maybe not “FUN” but maybe “INTERESTING” is more valuable than fun!
That is obviously a basketball shaped bong. Look at those longhairs with their stony grins.
It’s “Occam’s Razor” not “Occam’s Boil Everything Down So Much That It Barely Even Exists.”
THis book definitely needed an index. I mean, it had, what, 25 words in it?
DANTON STONE, AND I KNOW THIS POPPED UP IN YOUR GOOGLE ALERT, I REJECT YOUR BOOK AND EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. IT IS DESTROYING THE MINDS OF THIS NATION’S CHILDREN AND DIGGING A HOLE IN THEIR HEADS THAT THEY WILL NEVER MARCH OUT OF. IT ALSO SUBLIMINALLY ENCOURAGES THEM TO SMOKE MARIJUANA, AND I AM NOT OKAY WITH THAT.
*The book gives credit to Dr. J for teaching Barkley professional habits. Barkley has given that credit to Moses Malone. It was pretty weird.