“South of the NBA” by Sean Kelly
Basketball, fiction, South America
August 21, 2015
4 of 5 stars (Very Good)
Joel Jefferson and Jesus Barbosa, two American basketball players who are playing professionally in Argentina circa 1982, are the principle characters in this fun-to-read novel by Sean Kelly. Jefferson and Barbosa, known in Argentina as “El Negro” and “Cubano” are hoping that this journey will lead to a second chance in the NBA. They are joined by freelance writer Craig Bailey, who went to the country to write about the “Dirty War” but instead was caught up in the basketball players’ adventures. It should be noted that Bailey was also a basketball player, but was cut from walk-on tryouts by Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina.
Because the story is set in 1982, there are many references to star players from this era. Both college (for example, Phil Ford from North Carolina) and professional (for example, Lloyd Free) players are name-dropped during the story, which is mostly about Jefferson and Barbosa but also has some backdrop with the military presence and even has some mentions of the Falkland Island war with England.
The characters of Jefferson and Barbosa are not too complex – after all, the reason they are in Argentina is to get another shot at the NBA – but yet their personalities and flaws are easy to pick up by the reader. Readers will enjoy the exploits of both of these characters. Kelly’s basketball knowledge shines throughout the book and his game writing is superb.
The story line seems to just be about basketball throughout the book and I was having difficulty trying to figure out a plot to the story. However, by the end the reader will be able to see the final outcome and will still be left wanting to know what will become of the three main characters. That is not a bad thing, as there are times that the ending that has to be in the reader’s mind is the best ending and that is the case for this book. If one is looking for a quick and fun read, especially if a basketball fan, then this book is recommended.
I wish to thank Mr. Kelly for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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