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FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 26, 2010
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A Look Inside FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
"Loud, Fat, and Gifted:
The Irrepressible Charles Barkley"
"The Hair Up There"
"The Nuclear Option:
Wilt Chamberlain, The Man Who Went Too Far"
Praise for The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
“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
"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
Top Customer Reviews
That being said this is not so much a review of "The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History," as it is a thank you. This book approaches basketball the same way, and I couldn't help but be reminded of my childhood. Each story and illustration is utterly perfect in showing such great enthusiasm for the sport. Reading each story brought the basketball games and players, I didn't live through, to life as much as my dad's energetic stories did. Receiving it today I've read the book from cover to cover with a smile on my face the whole time.
Last year, for Christmas, I got my dad "The Breaks of the Game," and this year I have no doubt that he'll be receiving "The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History," from me.
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.
"...I prefer to think of it as Sun Ra making peace with an unfamiliar life form, one that tries to strangle him twice, then eats the Saltines he offers, then radiates orange light and [defecates] sundaes."
Its the verbal equivalent of playground ball, where the informal nature of the session leads to greater risk taking and more stunning displays of athletic ability.
To write a full scale book however, requires a whole other set of skills. It takes the fundamental game that too many playground legends unfortunately lack, which spells their doom in the NBA. In short, it requires structure. Form to allow a topic like history to be developed in a meaningful sense.
In this book, I'm happy to state that the writerly flair he applies to his shorter work is reworked directly into the structure of this book. The same creative skills set up frameworks that don't just show off his skill but actually help present the information at hand in a more informative manner. George Mikan isn't just the first superstar of the NBA, he is related to the same questions of "Time and Space" that led to a standardization of basketball rules.
At the end of a 2 or 3 page essay, several issues have been presented clearly, efficiently, coherently and with an enjoyable aesthetic style.
The entire book is similarly structured. Shoals is only one member of the Free Darko High Counsel, and the other members contribute hundreds of asides, detail shots, etc. that act as a harmonic balance to the primary soundtrack.
And then there's the art. Jacob Weinstein brings the exact same qualities to the table as I attributed to Shoals above. In detail they are beautiful, with unexpected elements (I could stare a long time at a piece comprised entirely of the chain link fences in the Connie Hawkins illustration), but their overall structure- how they present their subjects, is just as impressive.
In short, this book is the whole package. It is enjoyable not just as something that pertains to basketball but as a work of art in its own right. Even if you don't know basketball, you can appreciate this work of craft. Though it would probably help to like basketball
The fabulously detailed illustrations (some are for sale as prints and, indeed, rise to the level of great pop art) go toe-to-toe with some of the best writing this side of Papa, which is saying something, because the collective brings a lot of ability to the party. Michael Jordan, while looming large (as he must) over the enterprise doesn't dominate the proceedings, which is to the opus' advantage. This one does the collective's previous effort, "The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac," (a great piece in its own right) several ones better. Readers are in for a treat.