Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“‘These were philosophers out there,’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once wrote of black schoolyard players of basketball, the city game that is beloved all over the country. He and many others who have played the game over the last 50 years form the foundation of Nelson George’s Elevating the Game. . . . [George] has brought his own love of basketball to this folksy yet scholarly study. . . . [He] examines the sport’s origin . . . and charts its evolution from a kind of indoor football to an American passion. Basketball has been called life in short pants, and Mr. George recounts how, for the first black players in a game once reserved for whites, the phrase was no idle bromide. The author tells how black players from colleges around the nation advanced the game, sometimes in cities where people were opposed to the integration of basketball. Understanding the way in which black cultural expressions often knit together, Mr. George even likens basketball to jazz and to the nervous, insistent rhythms of rap. It all makes for a rich and welcome addition to sports literature.”—New York Times Book Review
KLIATT
Everything a basketball fan would want to know finds its way, in some fashion, into this work. Basketball history, statistics, trivia, biography, its social impact, even civil rights implications are tackled in ten chapters. George writes in an easily read style—facts are mixed with anecdotes, and street slang and sports lingo intertwine with academic theory. In 1891, the game was created as a way to keep the all-white student body of a Massachusetts prep school occupied in the cold winter months. George starts here, then relates how it became a segregated sport, then slowly developed into one of the most visible forums for exhibiting African American athletic ability. The huge role the game plays in African American society is presented though discussions of the game as a showcase for black talent, a font of advertising wealth, an integral part of society with its street lingo and fashion, and a source of personalities and icons. Within the historical narrative, the reader gets a chance to meet many players, coaches, managers, owners and even sports journalists who contributed to the game. Attention is given to all levels of basketball: professional, college, high school, and the casual street match. This is not straight sports ­ what the game means in historic, psychological, social, and racial/ethnic contexts is explored. George tells a fascinating and rich story. The eye-catching cover art will grab browsers; anyone remotely interested in basketball will be sold with a quick flip through. Students doing projects for gym, black studies, or even social studies will find this book useful. Includes b/w photos; a videography, a periodical listing and a bibliography will aid thoselooking for related info. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1992, University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books, 261p, 23cm, 99-37582, $15.00. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Cathy Gallagher Nuding; Freeport, NY, May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803270855
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Pages: 277
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Nelson George
Nelson George is a former columnist for Billboard and the Village Voice. His most recent book, Hip Hop America, was a finalist in the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Awards.
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