While taking it easy on this Memorial Day (and remembering what this holiday is about), I realized that I had not posted a review here lately. Having finished this book a couple days ago, it was time to share my thoughts on this even though it is older than the usual books I review. If you like basketball, pick this one up.
Title/Author: “Basketball: A Love Story” by Jackie McMullen, Rafe Bartholomew and Dan Klores
Rating: 4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review: While there are many books available on the history of basketball, at various points in the very interesting history of the sport, this collaboration by three very good basketball writers takes a different approach to talk about various aspects of the game and it worked.
The most notable aspect of this book is that aside from a few paragraphs between each section of interviews, there is no anecdotal approach to basketball history. Instead, there are quotes from interviews with the appropriate people to talk about that topic. Those topics range from the early history of both the game itself and professional basketball to international players, the evolution of the women’s game and observations about some of the best to ever play.
This approach to use quotes and observations from others instead of from the authors mostly worked well. I use “mostly” because there is some repetition in a few sections, especially when talking about players. Some of the superlatives given for Michael Jordan and LeBron James, just to name two, are like that where several people are repeating what others said. There are also some parts that just seem too short to fully appreciate the topic – that was the case for me when people shared their thoughts on Cheryl Miller. Yes, she never played professionally as she was injured shortly after her college career ended and could not play in the WNBA as the league did not start until several years later.
Something that made this format work well was the transitions from one area to another within the topic. An example of this would be the chapter on international players. When Dirk Nowitzki was talking about how he developed his famous fade away jump shot, he also talked about he overcame the language barrier. From there, that was the next topic as several other international players shared that aspect of their adjustment to American professional basketball. Segways like that made the book read well and it is one that any basketball fan of any level should read.