Players and Pretenders: The Basketball Team That Couldn't Shoot Straight

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Players and Pretenders tells the story of the flip side of basketball’s “March Madness,” where the game is played by average players for love, not for money. At the end of the 1970s at Bard College, where there was no pretense of institutional support, Charley Rosen gathered his hoops hopefuls and put together a basketball season whose impact reached far beyond the court.
Writing with a humorous touch, Rosen details the Running Red Devils’ season, simultaneously examining the lives of those who made it so memorable and providing a glimpse of how the team members existed off the courts as both players and pretenders. His book playfully depicts the 1979–80 basketball season at Bard College and the “sports for fun” side of the game.
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Editorial Reviews

Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

“For those who enjoy light reading, excellent comic writing and some bizarre sports moments, this is the perfect book. Whether you understand the intricacies of basketball or not, have no fear—the Bard College team didn’t either, yet that didn’t stop them from playing a full season against an assortment of opponents and frustrated refs.”—Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

“Rosen does a good job portraying the individual personalities of the Bard players, and he is also able to convey the almost mystical transformation that takes place as a basketball team develops its own persona. A warm, often humorous look into a locker room.”—Booklist

“This book, recounting his year (1979–1980) as a coach, is a funny, tender Zen and the Art of Basketball Losing. . . . Every [player] becomes an extraordinary character in Rosen’s hands. He is a delightful writer, and for anyone who has ever tried to toss a basketball through a hoop, this book about a bunch of losers (season record: 1–16) is better than 20 nights in front of a TV set watching Doctor J slam-dunk his way through the NBA schedule.”—People
Winston-Salem Journal

“This is a picture of college sports as they probably should be, the blending of divergent personalities, the clash of egos—bruised and otherwise—the struggle for a success that is not to be. . . . Rosen writes with a nice touch. He has a feeling for basketball and sports, but more than that, a feeling for people. This is more than a book about basketball or sports. It’s about what makes all of us the kind of people we are.”—Winston-Salem Journal

“If you are into college sports and a well told humorous narrative, pick up this book.”—Harvey Frommer,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803259645
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charley Rosen

Charley Rosen is the author of thirteen sports books, including the novel The House of Moses All-Stars, plus The Pivotal Season: How the 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers Changed the NBA and The Wizard of Odds: How Jack Molinas Almost Destroyed the Game of Basketball. Rosen is currently an NBA analyst for
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