Friday, March 21, 2014

Review of "Backspin"

A different kind of book on basketball was offered to me for a review on life in professional basketball overseas.  I was intrigued and gratefully accepted the offer.  I am glad I did as I enjoyed this memoir by Pete Strobl.  Here is my review of "Backspin."

“Backspin” by Pete Strobl

Basketball, autobiography, professional, college, overseas


327 pages

4 of 5 stars (very good)

When most basketball fans in the United States think of professional basketball, the NBA immediately comes to mind. However, there are many professional leagues in Europe and Asia as well. Several American players will play in these leagues and will face challenges along the way. Pete Strobl was one of these players and he decided to write a book on his adventures in Europe when playing in several countries.

“Backspin” takes the reader through Strobl’s playing career at Niagara University and his stops in various European countries, including France, Austria and Germany. The adventures and experiences he has at each stop is described in vivid detail. Some of the stories are downright funny (the adventures of the grey Omega that he drove from California to Niagara University), some are poignant (how he felt when an inexperienced player took a bad shot at the end of a championship game) and some are uplifting (his story of courting and marrying his wife Sheryl and the birth of their children).

What I like best about this book is that Strobl never comes across as too emotional while telling these stories. Through his writing, he doesn’t come across as getting too excited about the highs, nor too depressed about the lows. He keeps an even keel throughout his career in Europe. He also writes well about his trials and tribulations of being an American in a foreign country and needing to quickly adapt to the culture and languages. My favorite story of these was early in his first stop in France, he was mocked by a store clerk by asking if she had any English language magazines – and she did it in English! Later, after he learned to speak French well, he returned, asked the same question in French, and got a much different reaction.

There is plenty of basketball talk as well for the hardcore fan, especially about his college career at Niagara and his days playing in France and Austria. He recalls important games, some of his memorable episodes with teammates and the work he put in to become a better player at each stop. This work ethic not only helped him on the court but also to be able to quickly adapt to new cultures and languages at each stop in Europe.

Overall, this is a very good book about Strobl’s life before, during and after his overseas professional career. Written in a very even-handed manner, it is a good read for those who like memoirs and for basketball fans. The latter category will even learn a little more about professional leagues that are not the NBA.

I wish to thank Mr. Strobl for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I skim?
No. The stories each are an integral part of what has made Strobl who he is today and each one of them tells an interesting fact or tidbit about his life.

Pace of the book: 
Very good. It is not too slow so that it drags, nor is it a quick pace as each story should be absorbed instead of skimmed.

Do I recommend?
For readers who like personal introspection into the lives of the book’s subject, this is the perfect book. It covers more than just basketball - it truly is a book on the adventures of life.

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