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Pickup Artists: Street Basketball in America (Haymarket) Hardcover – June 17, 1998

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Basketball was inaugurated in 1891 and soon developed into a game of teams rather than individuals, featuring dribbling, passing and carefully structured plays. New rules introduced in the 1930s facilitated a style of play that developed on street courts in major cities, especially New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, where playground athletes, many from working-class families, altered the basic nature of the game and laid the groundwork for the sport as it is played today. This significant contribution to the history of the game by a current (Anderson) and a former (Millman) writer for Sports Illustrated details the ways in which this evolution caused by the "city game" took place, emphasizing fast breaks and slam dunks and what the authors characterize as the "testosterone-charged, showtime style." Many of the greatest pickup artists are profiled, not a few of them derailed by drugs, and there is also mention of the top women players who lost out. The authors see the game now as primarily under the control of the largest sneaker manufacturers, with local tourneys so common that a potential talent even as young as seven may be spotted and assisted in his career.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

This first book by a pair of veterans of Sports Illustrated is a highly intelligent look at the colorful world of playground hoops and, with it, the ghettos that support the game. Basketball has changed more radically in the past half-century than any of our other major sports, and the influence of playground ball has been one of the major reasons. From its opening portrait of street legend James ``Speedy'' Williams, a 29-year-old black man from Brooklyn who supports himself by playing in games organized by drug dealers and hustling one-on-one contests with unsuspecting marks, Pickup Artists is an unusually well-written and astute picture of the ways that basketball has evolved in this country. The soil from which the game sprung to its current tremendous size can be found in the cracked blacktop of dozens of inner-city playgrounds where creative athletes challenge one another with reputation and sometimes money on the line, a way for disadvantaged youth to climb out of the economic trough. As Anderson and Millman amply show, that reality has begun to change subtly. Big corporate money has found the playground--big college money, tooand the playground has succumbed in ways that are leading to its demise as an arena for self-expression, turning instead into a showcase for talent that resembles a meat market. Along the way, the authors give telling glimpses of an array of near-mythical figures, from Nat Holman to Earl ``The Goat'' Manigault (who died shortly after the books completion). They mince no words in reporting on the ugly deaths and drug problems that have clung to the playground game. Indeed, after reading this volume, one realizes that playground ball has often been a fabulous jewel with a lethal curse; one wonders how something so beautiful can destroy so many. An exemplary piece of reporting and writing, transcending sports to give us a somber view of America's crumbling cities. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Haymarket
  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (June 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859842356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859842355
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jaguar Myers on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have read several books regarding street basketball in america. This particular book covers legends across the country. It also takes a look at the sociology of regions. Although the basis of my research has been focused on New York this book was a great, well-written suprise. It is a thoughtful look at personalities and stories surrounding the legends you may have never heard of. If you want to read a good book on the subject this is a great place to start, It is very well written and thoughtful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was totally immersed in this book from beginning to end. It is very well written, and well-edited, and it brings the story Pete Axthelm started closer to present day. I thought, nothwithstanding the comments from herein, that its treatment of the relationship between the street and the business of basketball was intelligent and compelling. I recommend it highly.
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By Z. Blume on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting look at the history of amateur basketball from the early 20th century until the late 1990's. It focuses on street basketball, but also highlights basketball in places such as small town Indiana, an Indian reservation, and resort towns of the 1920's-40's. It is more about the culture surrounding basketball and its importance to various communities. There are a lot of wonderful anecdotes and legends included in the story, but they are only minor details in a much larger portrait. The book is not particularly well organized and the writing itself was poor, but it is obvious that extensive research went into it and the subject is very interesting, so I would recommend it on those merits alone.
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A Kid's Review on March 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
this is truly an awesome book. not only does it teach you many things about the game and its origins, but it also opens up your eyes to things like growing up in streetball areas isnt as glamourous as it seems. i honestly feel like now everytime i play basketball or watch streetball, i will have that extra boost. another great thing is that it is very intelligently written and has a high reading level so its not boring or nething. THANK YOU PICKUP ARTISTS! i reccomend this to any fan of basketball or ne1 that wants to learn sumtin about it
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