From Publishers Weekly
Page for page, this slim volume is a powerful and provocative history of modern basketball and how issues of race, class and popular culture have played out both on and off the basketball court. Boyd's premise is unassailable: "Hip hop is a way of life that best defines the worldview" of contemporary professional and collegiate basketball players, a "redefinition of the American dream" as a "refusal to conform, and having the money to sustain this posture." Todd (Am I Black Enough for You?) details how the relatively low-key mass-market popularity of basketball in the 1970s belied its strong cultural position as "the sport of choice" in the black community, a free-flowing, improvisational sport more akin to jazz than the regimentation of baseball and football. He shows how "[b]asketball was becoming a Black sport, and not just in numbers but also in overall vibe and attitude," in cogent observations about the sport's best players: the cutting-edge excitement rooted in the urban playground brought to the NBA by Julius Erving; the larger national racial conflict during the Reagan era underlying the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson; Johnson's crossover racial popularity bringing the NBA a mass market; Michael Jordan's "articulation of individual style" as an expression of a new political assertion in the black community; and the rise to prominence of the "bad boy" Detroit Pistons concurrent with the rise of gangsta rap. He takes on new players, such as Allen Iverson, who "were at the forefront of a generation for whom hip hop was the soundtrack of their lives"; this observation may explain why some see Iverson as a thug but "the hip hop generation sees Iverson as real, as authentic." (Oct.)Forecast: Because this book takes on issues of class and race in sports, it is bound to be controversial and garner media attention. But behind the hype lies a solid looko at the current state of basketball.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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“A powerful and provocative history of modern basketball and how issues of race, class and popular culture have played out both on and off the basketball court.”—Publishers Weekly
“An insightful look at how African American basketball players and rappers have gone from being reviled by mainstream audiences to being imitated around the world.”—Essence
“Boyd effortlessly threads the past thirty years of basketball culture, the cost of being outspoken, and the pressures of a power structure and media glare that both cheers and reviles.”—Upscale