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Court Vision: Unexpected Views on the Lure of Basketball

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    Great Implementation of a Brilliant Book Concept

    This book clearly deserves more than five stars. Seldom do I find a new type of nonfiction book that is an improvement over its predecessors. Court Vision is such a book. The concept is simple. Take famous people from all walks of life who are among our most talented individuals. Find the ones who know about NBA basketball either from a fan's or a player's perspective. Interview them about how they get insights into what they do from basketball, what their field can bring to basketball, and use a common questioning format so that the perspectives build on one another. Edit the results ruthlessly. Although the book is ostensibly about basketball, the result is that you also see these observers in a new way through the common lens of their relationship to basketball. For example, some of the very mild-mannered public figures like Tom Brokaw use the four letter word that begins with 'f' in their comments. Knowing that they were being taped, I am surprised by their language. Obviously, the public personnas and the real person are at variance in some ways. A further example comes from Walter Matthau's addiction to betting on the games, even though he doesn't enjoy it (the winning isn't enough fun to offset the pain of losing). You will have your own favorite sections. If I quote a lot of the best material, it will spoil the book for you. But it may whet your appetite to know who some of the interviewees are: Woody Allen (filmmaker); William Cohen (President Clinton's Secretary of Defense); Edward Villella (ballet dancer and choreographer); Chris Rock (comedian); Erica Jong (novelist); Gene Siskel (film critic); Donald Trump (businessman); Reverend Edward Aloysius Malloy (President, Notre Dame University); Julia Child (chef); Mario Cuomo (former Governor of New York); Alan Dershowitz (law professor); Seiju Ozawa (conductor); Sharon Stone (actress); and Saul Bellow (novelist). In general, the comments by those who played basketball are the most interesting. But the narrow lens that our profession brings to our perspective is also very clear. Few draw on analogies and metaphors from outside their profession. Many people are not well schooled in basketball. Their interest usually starts with the rise of Michael Jordan, so stars of the past are seldom mentioned. No one seems to have an explanation of how Michael Jordan could take off at the free throw line and dunk the ball. One interesting hypothesis presented is that he used some sort of extrasensory power. Basketball players are also looked on as individuals. You get comments on the Latrell Spreewell coach-choking incident, immature behavior on the court and off, and the important potential role of education in these young peoples' lives. Most of the observers either live in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, so you get a lot about the Knicks, Lakers, and Bulls. Some residual Larry Bird sneaks in now and then. This book would also make a great gift for anyone who is an NBA fa

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