- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (November 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608190838
- ISBN-13: 978-1608190836
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History Hardcover – October 26, 2010
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“Baseball has its numbers and football has its hard hits, but basketball, more than those sports, has style. And no one has done more to try to capture that than the collection of bloggers known as Freedarko.” ―New York Times
“To say that they've written one of the most enlightening books on the game's evolution (which they have) is to miss the point. The book isn't intended solely to educate; it's also meant to entertain, and to that end it succeeds wildly.” ―Sports Illustrated
“FreeDarko isn't standing outside the mainstream of basketball discussion: It's driving it ... This is a history of basketball told straight, but smartly, with wit and detail and undeniable affection....Any NBA fan can read this: It's not for grad students and stoners and revisionists; it's for everyone ... We are now living in a FreeDarko world. Hail, hail.” ―New York Magazine
“This is a history of basketball written with a degree of conceptual complexity that's just about unique in the canon of the sport. But it's also an inviting, accessible narrative that doesn't have to be praised in terms of baroque sociology... It's also, and by some distance, the prettiest sports book I've ever seen... It's like a McSweeney's you don't have to pet.” ―The Run of Play
“The book is an essential guide to the NBA as seen through the eyes of brilliant outsiders--writers, statisticians, and illustrators--unwilling to describe the contents of the game in the typical language of the sports section. If you are watching basketball without the guidance of FreeDarko, you are simply doing it wrong.” ―The Portland Mercury
“A highly graphic look at both well-and lesser-known moments in the pro game's past, written by the sport's most entertaining bloggers. Get infotained with illustrated awesomeness.” ―Maxim
Read an excerpt from FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History [PDF].
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This book does exactly what FreeDarko set out to do: tell the history of the NBA in a riveting, entertaining and bring-the-past-to-life way, rather than simply regurgitating stats and facts as so many other history books have done.
FreeDarko's previous book: "The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac" portrayed current players in a different light, and brought the personalities within game to the forefront. It wasn't just about players and stats, but about how these players fit within the game itself. This book takes the same approach with players and teams of the past. FD's Almanac used to be my favorite basketball book, but I can safely bet that "The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History" will edge it out as my personal favorite.
As far as the book goes, I enjoyed it a lot and would never have not bought it, but felt a little let down after the Almanac. It's second-book syndrome to a certain extent, an attempt to find out what to do after having put out a statement to be reckoned with in the first one, and then the "what next" and of course the weight of Simmons' historical tome (different in style, but definitely competitive) coming down the pipe.
The most unique and exciting stuff is in the data and statistical visualizations. The FD crew understand that the statistical revolution is personal and visual. The comparison charts of black players and national TV viewers, or breaking down hairstyle change is vintage FreeDarko and worth the price of admission alone. The history on the early ethnic barnstorming teams was also unique, instructive and entertaining. Combined with the carryover of the excellent visuals, you can't help but have your inspiration for basketball renewed after this.
The dryer patches come with the attempt to do potted summaries of the eras we already know well. While all the chapters are interesting, the organization by decade sometimes feels like it is putting everything in a predetermined narrative we've already heard before. When the writing shines (as it does with Bethlehem Shoals, always) it works a treat. Other times, there seems to be a sub-Gladwell pop social-science ethic at work, that frankly becomes a little bit of a grind in a book which is not well placed to provide that kind of "evidence" (on that level, and only that level, Simmons' book generates more "archival credibility" in historical jargon).
The bottom line is that I consumed this in a few days, and if you really love basketball, or feel somewhat attracted to it for reasons you can't explain, there is no reason to not buy this book. You will get more than your money's worth, and even better than that, be drawn into a different economy of basketball value.
There are tangents here as well, but the information is a good mix of encyclopedia knowledge and frivolous pop culture. The chart that creates a fighting tree is top-notch, and worth the cover price alone.
Freedarko made a solid mark, and this book should be in any basketball fan's collection.
Second, they stated that Bruce Bowen was the Spurs player who threw Steve Nash into the scorer's table for game 4 of the 07 Spurs-Suns series. This is wrong- Robert Horry was the Spur that did that.
These are fairly minor errors, but this made me downgrade it from 5 stars to 4