Monday, June 22, 2009

Let's Book Club! The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

The guys at Free Darko, which features some of the most poetic basketball writing around, have this book The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, which is essentially a coffee table book about some of the more interesting personalities in pro basketball. On the face of it this is exactly the kind of book that I should probably dislike. Basically, I like winners... guys who are do the little things, are good teammates, work hard, are humble, etc.; and the book's authors value entertainment over substance, personality over performance, and so forth.

But, I think what made the book a great read for me, given that I don't see the world of sports the same way they do, is that they are able to find redeeming value in the un-redeemable (see: Carter, Vince; McGrady, Tracy). They are able to look at characters like Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, and Amare Stoudemire, examine their flaws without dwelling on them, and explore what makes each of the players that they discuss compelling to watch. Normally, watching someone like, say, Gilbert Arenas ("The Court is a Carnival" exerpt here) would make me want to tear my hair out. He's a hilarious guy, sure, but I definitely wouldn't be banking on an NBA title parade down Yonge St. if he landed in TO, and, I've always thought that that's the way you play sports: to win.

That said, I think that the Free Darko collective make me think that its possible to look at sports more like music (which, I suppose is appropriate given that this is a music blog, mostly)... it can be fun to watch Ron-Ron jack off balanced 3s, Kobe pretend to like his teammates, and Amare do his best imitation of a pylon on defence... but it doesn't mean that I want them on my team...

And it doesn't hurt that the pictures in the book are super-cool...

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