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FreeDarko Presents: The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today's Game Hardcover – November 11, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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$19.01 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 11 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, December 2008: From its mouthful of a name, you might expect The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac to be one of the new breed of fantasy-friendly stathead sports guides in the vein of the Baseball Prospectus. Or, from its blogger pedigree (via the popular FreeDarko.com), you might assume it's one of those quickie blog-into-book projects that repurposes new-media content into an old-media package. But it's neither--not even close. Bucking the data-crunching trend, the Almanac's pseudonymous authors instead embrace the mythical side of pro sports, reminding us that the difference between, say, LeBron and AI lies not just in 0.2 ppg but in the rich drama of potential, style, and lore that each star represents. And the Almanac is no blog: it's every inch a book, freshly imagined and gorgeously designed, with colorful, smart graphics that give dimension to figures from Tim "Mechanical Gothic" Duncan to Stephon "Hategoat" Marbury. With a foreword, fittingly, by Gilbert Arenas, the NBA star whose kooky, self-concocted "Agent Zero" persona often overshadows his knee-hobbled game, the Almanac is the ideal midseason treat for the casual fan and the deep obsessive alike. --Tom Nissley

In the illustrations below, artists from the Free Darko collective give their unique take on two of basketball's "Master Builders"--Kobe Bryant, the perfectionist, and Tim Duncan, a methodical player of gothic proportions. (Click the images to enlarge)




From Booklist

*Starred Review* Where to start? This is not your father’s sports book. FreeDarko is a quirky pro basketball Web site. Its name refers to Darko Milicic, a number-two draft pick who was confined to the Detroit Pistons bench early in his career. The FreeDarko Manifesto eschews the tribalism of rooting for teams and instead celebrates the Primacy of the Individual. Most of the book is comprised of illustrated player profiles. But these aren’t the usual plucky tales of hardships overcome. Each profile—all of which offer insightful critiques of the game—includes a brief three-point introductory rationale: What He Gives Us, What He Stands For, and Why We Care. So why do we care about Celtics star Kevin Garnett? He embodies the ideal that a man can become bigger than the battles he fights. And what does enigmatic Laker Lamar Odom give us? The history of the world encapsulated in a flightless aircraft. The profiles also include illustrations—some are spot-on re-creations of the players’ signature moves, using odd little box-guys—and comparisons to similar players. The commentary runs to sweeping but unfailingly entertaining generalizations, especially about international basketball, e.g., the claim that, in France, the style of play is elegant, skittish, and somewhat annoyed. There is also a nifty chapter on basketball cancers (players who can ruin teams via toxic personalities). All in all, this is a wonderful basketball book that blends a unique perspective, arresting presentation, and superior knowledge of its subject. --Wes Lukowsky
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915619
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I might as well just come out and say it: I'm an NBA fan, through and through -- rabidly, almost, it's kind of insane. I wasn't for awhile. I grew up living and dying with the Lakers, but somewhere between the second and third titles of the Shaq/Kobe era, I just lost interest. Politics, art, activism, music, and other interests took hold, and I thought I was leaving behind a banal, childish fixture for more sophisticated tastes. And while it wasn't the FreeDarko collective or their fabulous blog that brought me back into basketball (how THAT happened, I'll never figure out), they were responsible for convincing me that the NBA, despite its clamoring for mainstream appeal and the obsessive attempts to ingratiate itself to corporate America through not just its business model, but the leagues entire culture -- despite standing for so much that I am against, it was this group of writers that taught me that this sport is worthwhile. That not only is basketball sophisticated, it's fun.

The Macrophenomenal Almanac analyzes the league as it was meant to be seen -- in terms of the players, and is complemented perfectly by beautiful illustrations and graphs, and the purely genius "style guide". Thus, the authors spend a full chapter each on several of the most interesting, meaningful players in the game. And meaningful is of their own definition -- meaning in terms of symbolism, not wins and losses, which is why there is a chapter on Stephon Marbury, who for all his talent and ability may never play another game in his career, simply because he's such a nutjob, and not on more "deserving" players like former MVP's Dirk Nowitski or Shaquille O'Neal.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors of this book must be brilliant NASA engineers on the side or something. They approach the NBA with a ton of enthusiasm and brainpower. And quirkiness. They tell us answers to questions we would never have thought to ask: like why Lamar Odom can only be understood through a careful analysis of his facial expressions, why Tim Duncan's "spirit animal" is the nurse shark (Tracy McGrady's is the monitor lizard), and why the Egyptian pyramids would have gone up much faster if Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa had been in charge of building them.

There are some really impressive charts that prove the authors must have watched every second of every NBA game over the past several years. But even though the Almanac made me laugh out loud, and got me in the mood for this year's season, its look is what stands out most -- the art throughout is stunning. It's weird that the most beautifully designed book I now own is about pro basketball, but there it is....
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Format: Hardcover
Forgive the hyperbole I'm about to lather on, but I felt like this amazing, utterly unique book was written just for me. I fit into what I think is a rare demographic: the all-American basketball lover who just happens to also be a big fan of "literary" writing and hipster urban graphic design. By more than satisfying each of these seemingly incompatible interests, this book represents nothing less than THE standard for 21st century sports books. Seriously. A dry, quirky sense of humor that's never too arch or condescending couples nicely with penetrating statistical rigor and an acute knowledge of history and context. I think of this as a "post-blog" book in that it reads like a tidied up, bound summation of the best NBA blog posts by the best writers around. Think Bill Simmons or even a bit of David Foster Wallace combined with a mountain of interesting stats and stunning artwork. I can't think of a better holiday gift for anyone that's even remotely like me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is most notable for its very cool illustrations. It definitely embraces NBA basketball from an individual player standpoint as opposed to a team standpoint. I wouldn't call it an "almanac" by any means, just a fun read on basketball.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not your father's basketball book. It is definitely "new school."

It's tough to know where to begin when describing "The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac," which isn't really an almanac. But for starters, take a look at the cover if you can. It's an example of the illustrations that grace the pages; they make sense once you read the text.

From there, you should know that this is written by the team that brings you the Free Darko blog, a smart look at the NBA written with plenty of wit and attitude. The premise here is that the NBA should be celebrating individuals and their styles, that teams have become a lot less relevant (to some, maybe irrelevant).

The authors take a look at 18 players and group them into six categories. For example, "Destiny's Kids" are LeBron James, Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire, which sounded about right at the time of publication. The "Phenomenal Tumors" refer to the biggest cancers in the league: Ron Artest, Vince Carter, and Stephon Marbury.

Each player gets about 8 to 10 pages, complete with a description of "spirit animal" (Tim Duncan gets the Nurse shark, for example). Some players receive unique statistical breakdowns, such as proof of Lamar Odom's diversified talents or of Marbury's effect on his old teams and his new teams over the years. Every player gets a couple of illustrated pages devoted to style with witty symbols. Kobe Bryant's initial fakes are depicted by replacing Bryant's head with an abacus in order to show his calculating nature. (Honest, it works.)

In between the categories are little sidebars. Two are particularly noteworthy. The authors go through the 2000 NBA Draft, which in hindsight was a rather large waste of time for all concerned.
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