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The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy Paperback – December 7, 2010
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I managed to get an early copy of this book, and spent the next 48 hours plowing through it as fast as I could. It's very clear that Simmons put everything he had into the book. There aren't a lot of loose words around. Even the genitalia jokes are well-constructed. Yes, it's pretty good.
The basis of this book is determining who mattered in the NBA. Which teams, players, coaches, etc. played the biggest role in getting us to where we are today, in shaping our perception of what it takes to win in the NBA, and how we remember different players and events. It's very interesting to see him go back into the 60s and 70s and try to write about Walton, Russell, and Chamberlain and how they were perceived then, and try to get to see what forces created and changed that perception. This is ultimately what the book is all about. It reads almost like a history of the NBA, in a very easy-to-read style.
My personal favorites are his ABA pieces. Not nearly enough has been written about this crazy league, and Simmons did a very good job looking at just how things broke down, at what could have been, and how the ABA led to many fundamental changes in the NBA itself.
Finally, this is definitely a book for the NBA junkie. It's comic style and easy-to-read writing style does make it accessible to those with only mild-to-intermediate interest in the NBA, but at its core, it's for the junkies who want to fill up with as much NBA knowledge as possible. It's a great book, and for its price (as of October 27, 2009), a great deal.
(1) Buy the dead tree version even if you have a Kindle. Simmons buries an absurd amount of information in the footnotes, a lot more than just citations. They're set up as endnotes at the end of each chapter, which is awkward for Kindle users. The footnotes are almost like one of those extra audio tracks in a DVD where the director provides running commentary on a film; for better or worse, you're missing out on a lot if you skip the footnotes. Why he thought this was a good way to write a book is beyond me. But you're going to want to read the footnotes.
(2) if you bet "under 1.5" as the first chapter in which an NBA moment is compared to a scene in Shawshank Redemption, you covered.
(3) if this book had an MPAA rating, it would be rated R. He says things that he could never get away with in his ESPN columns. For example, he refers to going off birth control as "pulling the goalie" and calls the Hawks' selection of Marvin Williams in the 2005 draft (instead of Chris Paul or Deron Williams) "an Aretha Franklin sized mistake."
(4) I've probably read half a dozen different "Wilt or Russell?" articles over the years, and Simmons' handling of the debate is probably the best one.
Will update in coming days.
Update (11/3): Man Reads Entire Book of Basketball -- And Lives!
If the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is the '86 Celtics of sports history books -- a timeless classic that could succeed in any era -- then TBOB is the '79 Sonics: a championship team but not one that will be remembered forever, and one that could probably only have won a championship in its own time. Why does TBOB fall short of the absolute pinnacle?Read more ›
This book could have been something different. He could have written from his perspective as a viewer watching all those Celtics game as a young kid or focus on an era. Instead, he tried to write about everything about basketball. He could write a 10 part series and still wouldn't be enough.
Bill also references a lot of books that influenced him. You figure he would have at least attempted to write a book instead of just a 700-page ESPN column. This was probably my biggest gripe. There was no attempt whatsoever and along with those endless footnotes, it completely ruins the flow of reading a book. Part of me believes Bill wrote it this way because that is how he got to this point in the first place. Why try to write like someone else? I feel like Bill is smart enough to make some attempt and put a good piece of literature together.
The way I see this book is like Hollywood adapting a novel into a movie. They'll have to strip a lot of details and parts in a book and cram it into a 2 hour film. This works brilliantly sometimes, but many times, it doesn't work. This book to me is the Hollywood version of a book.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to see him grow from a self-made website to #1 on NYTimes best seller and I will continue to read his columns, listen to his podcasts, and read his tweets. He's entertaining and I think that is part of the problem with this book. I am just trying to give my unbiased opinion on the book. I've learned a lot about the history of basketball from this book and I've learned a lot from Bill, not just in sports, but as a thinker - I just wish he could have written it better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a definitive and practically encyclopedic look at the game of basketball. If you've ever watched a basketball game or even if you haven't, you'll find this to be one devil... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Neal Reynolds
I had read Bill Simmons's "The Book of Basketball" some years ago and it still holds up well. Read morePublished 14 days ago by sanoe.net
"You can have your own opinions but not your own facts." In comparing Wilt Chamberlain to Bill Russell, the author emphatically states that "Wilt never won a title in... Read morePublished 20 days ago by Gerry Senker
This is a huge book, definitely not a read-in-one-sitting kind of book. We keep in the bathroom for reading material. Lots of interesting facts, lots of opinion. Read morePublished 21 days ago by OlyNomad
Caveat emptor…despite Bill Simmons being much in the news over his less-than-amicable parting and continuing spat with ESPN, this is not a newly revised book. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Jim Tenuto
For fans of Bill Simmons, this is a fun read, 700+ paperback pages on his take on professional basketball. Read morePublished 24 days ago by bsg2004
This book is a must-have for any basketball nut or fanatic. Chock full of interesting details and stories and wonderful personal anecdotes Plus some good in-depth Analysis of both... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Karen Bierman Hirsh