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Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home Hardcover – November 1, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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From Booklist

The catalyst for this book by an award-winning New York Times columnist was the November 2004 Detroit brawl in which Indiana Pacer basketball players went into the stands in pursuit of cup-tossing fans, and the fans spilled onto the court in search of arrogant, multimillionaire players. Araton sees the brawl as symptomatic of the racial and economic divide that currently characterizes professional basketball. Mostly black, multimillionaire players perform in all their cornrowed, tattooed glory before emissaries of corporate America, in attendance because their companies provided tickets. The spectators often aren't real fans but are increasingly antagonistic in berating the players. Araton points out the obvious: a disconnect between players and fans is bad business for any sport. Araton gives the college game a beating, too, from coaches who ride the backs of great players to a better job elsewhere to universities that focus on income generation rather than academic integrity. This is an intelligent overview of a sport losing fans in droves by a fan who wants the bleeding to stop. Wes Lukowsky
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"Harvey Araton has that rarest of virtues among sports writers: the ability to think critically about a game he loves. Then again, "Crashing the Borders" isn't really sports writing. Sure, Araton knows what makes basketball beautiful. But he also understands how the sport intersects with race and money. As Dick Vitale might say, 'It's America, ba-bee!' But now it's Argentina, Italy, and Croatia as well. This book captures the game's culture and its contradictions with just the right mix of outrage, affection, and intellectual rigor."-- Mark Kriegel, author of "Namath: A Biography"

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743280695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743280693
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on December 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Harvey Araton, long-time sports columnist for the New York Times, explores the history of "pure basketball's" decline in his latest book, CRASHING THE BORDERS. As someone who grew up watching and playing pure basketball in its American capital, Indiana, I could hardly agree more with Araton's basic contention: that basketball has lost its balletic soul, that the ultimate in spontaneous team games has become a game of power and force too often centered around individuals whose attention-seeking egos match their outsized Nike sneaker endorsements. Worse, too many players lack the fundamental skills that were formerly the hallmark of NBA play.

Araton traces the decline to the rise of Michael Jordan as a one-player product bigger than the NBA itself. Jordan became a role model for the next generation of "look at me" American players whose inarguable athleticism catapulted them into the spotlight before their psyches or their fundamental basketball skills had had time to mature and develop for a team game. In Araton's view, Jordan begat Vince Carter begat Kobe Bryant begat Alan Iverson begat Lebron James ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Yet half those begatted stars fell flat on their public relations faces, tarnishing the NBA and upping its hip-hop image while inciting racist sentiments in the stands that culminated in the Pacers/Pistons/fans rumble at The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit) on November 19, 2004.

At the same time, NBA Dream Teams had their proverbial hats handed to them in the 2002 World Championships and the 2004 Athens Olympics.
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Format: Hardcover
While I enjoyed this quick and easy effort from Araton, it left me with one question at the end - "What exactly was the author trying to prove in writing this?"

The title would indicate that we should expect a treatise covering several topics: the decline of basketball fundamentals in America, the fall of the U.S. as a basketball empire, the MTV-ization of the game, and a few others that would all contribute to proving what the title claims. Instead, this is a disjointed effort, part lecture, part memoir, and part history lesson.

Personally, I think that this would have worked better as a simple memoir of Araton's time spent covering the game. He could have told more of the interesting personal stories that he interjects here, especially considering how long he's been around the game. This is a book that becomes repititious, and that might have been avoided had he included more about his interactions with players, coaches, etc. He could have talked about how he believes the game has declined here, but it wouldn't have had to be the centerpiece of his book.

I believe that a great book about the decline of basketball here in the U.S. needs to be written, but I don't think this is it. This doesn't dig nearly deep enough into the underlying causes of the decline, and the format is so scattershot as to keep the reader guessing exactly what might be the point of certain parts of the book. Again, this is an enjoyable and fast read, but I was expecting something more.
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Format: Hardcover
Basketball fans will find a vibrant and unusual story in Crashing The Borders: How Basketball Won The World And Lost Its Soul At Home: it tells how talented players from around the world are playing at a level which challenges American pros, and how the sport is simultaneously facing a troubled image on its own home turf. Relations between players and fans are at a low point, TV ratings for NBA games are on the decline, and basketball fan Harvey Araton, sports columnist for the New York Times, here traces the problem to the greed of those who would exploit the game and thus weaken it. Fans will find this a hard-hitting account that pulls no punches.
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Format: Hardcover
Those who are regular readers of Harvey Araton's columns in the New York Times will recognize the quality and intelligence of the writing in this must-read dissection of the basketball world at large.
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