New York: Library of America, 2018. Christopher Sergio. First Edition. First Printing. Hardcover. NEW. Light brown cloth boards with black lettering to spine. Ochre endpapers. Index. 15.5 x 24 cm. 462 pp. / NEW. Glossy. Item #13745
Foreword by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
“Alexander Wolff has put together this collection like a master point guard distributing the ball, deftly providing both a chronology of the game and a full, rich accounting of its place in American culture.”—Glenn Stout, series editor, The Best American Sports Writing
Made in America, basketball has become a national obsession whose rise as a popular entertainment has coincided with the ascendancy of new ways of writing about sports. In this landmark anthology, the biggest and best collection of basketball writing ever assembled, an all-star roster of sportswriters, essayists, and players cover the game in all its myriad aspects: the storied teams, like the Celtics, Knicks, and Tennessee Lady Vols; the iconic superstars, like Kareem, Jordan, LeBron, and Steph Curry; the frenzy of March Madness and the NBA finals; and the sheer poetry, grace, and spectacle of the sport.
The book opens with James Naismith’s account of inventing the game in 1891, an unlikely origin story of a global phenomenon. It moves on to Red Smith’s momentary dalliance with a sport he claims not to have liked and Edith Roberts’s account of the legendary Indiana championship immortalized in the film Hoosiers before it fast breaks to the 1960s, when basketball writing came into its own. John McPhee on Bill Bradley, Jimmy Breslin on Al McGuire, David Halberstam on the Portland Trail Blazers: these masters of long-form journalism sized up players, coaches, and teams in prose that is always trenchant. Meanwhile reporters like Pete Axthelm and Rick Telander began exploring the glories and tragedies of the “city game,” the electrifying world of playground ball and its players’ complex stories.
Expertly edited and introduced by longtime Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff, the pieces gathered here range from personal reflections about the sport (John Edgar Wideman, Brian Doyle, David Shields) to indelible profiles (Frank Deford on Bob Knight, Gary Smith on Pat Summitt) to pieces influenced by the revolution in basketball commentary on the internet (the FreeDarko Collective, Zach Lowe). Others approach the sport as a way to think about America more broadly, particularly about race, illuminating Michael Novak’s observation that “a part of our deepest identity is uttered in this game.”.