True Fans: A Basketball Odyssey

Overview

Three friends. Three bicycles. Forty-eight hundred miles. One NBA-issue basketball.

Based on the nationally touring film of the same name, Dan Austin's hilarious and thoughtful True Fans details the journey Dan, his brother Jared, and best friend Clint Ewell started when they hopped aboard their bicycles and headed east from the pickup court at Venice Beach, handlebars pointed toward The NBA Hall of Fame. It was a basketball pilgrimage, ...
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Overview

Three friends. Three bicycles. Forty-eight hundred miles. One NBA-issue basketball.

Based on the nationally touring film of the same name, Dan Austin's hilarious and thoughtful True Fans details the journey Dan, his brother Jared, and best friend Clint Ewell started when they hopped aboard their bicycles and headed east from the pickup court at Venice Beach, handlebars pointed toward The NBA Hall of Fame. It was a basketball pilgrimage, shooting hoops on sandlots across the country, looking for enlightenment under a net. In their bicycle trailer, which they called "The Ark of the Covenant," they carried a few gallons of peanut butter and an unused basketball, on which they collected the signatures of those who helped them on their journey, from the Reverend Kevin Smith, who let them sleep behind his church, to Dick Simmons, a coal miner who offered them five dollars he could scarcely afford to part with. They would bring this ball to the Hall of Fame, and ask that it be included in the permanent collection.

What would America do, the book also asks, if three guys on bikes with a basketball in tow showed up and begged for a handout? Not everyone was friendly--the strange "owner" of Amboy, Nevada, makes for a fairly spooky villain--but most of the country, they found, would do just about anything for them. Doors were opened from California to Springfield, Massachusetts, hamburgers comped, hot tubs proffered. Austin and his crew knocked, and for one hundred days, America answered. The result was a classic odyssey.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1999, Salt Lake City filmmaker Austin won the People's Choice Award at the Banff Film Festival with his documentary about a coast-to-coast bicycle trip, and this book retraces that 4,800-mile trek. It began when Austin, his brother and a friend left California in 1997, pedaling east, hoping "to see America... to get to know the people and to see if they were as heroic as we'd always believed." Seeking the "Perfect Hoop" in smalltown parks and schoolyards, the fun-loving jocks pedaled through oppressive heat, mosquitoes, traffic snarls and thunderstorms. The 100-day expedition ended in Springfield, Mass., where they gave the Basketball Hall of Fame their "Bball" with its "imprint of humanity," signatures collected from "nice folks" who gave them food, shelter and money. Those "true fans," however, are only superficially sketched in these pages. Although Austin obviously yearns to score points as a modern-day Kerouac (who is cited throughout), he doesn't quite succeed. Devising a brand strategy with flashy Web site marketing (www.truefans.net), he follows the money, lecturing, selling DVDs, creating clever pitches for funding and developing True Fans the Musical. His book, however, is just a ho-hum travel journal. Eight-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Oct. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As a storyteller, Austin may not rival Jack Kerouac, yet his tale of a trio's 100-day bicycle trip in 1997 from California to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, is a modern-day classic. From the public basketball courts in Venice Beach, CA, to their ultimate destination, this story is not about the game that Austin, his brother, and his close friend love as much as the people who cared for and shared with these three vagabonds on a limited budget. Occasionally, Austin's troupe confronts danger such as in an isolated Nevada town where they feel compelled to move on with haste, but free meals, offers of lodging, and acts of unselfish kindness are far more the norm. Following the "whatever happens is best" mantra, the three encounter humorous situations, well related by Austin, yet one cannot help but wonder if their reception would have been different in a post-9/11 world. Based on Austin's own documentary film of the same name-which won the People's Choice Award at the 1999 Banff Mountain Film Festival-True Fans is recommended for all collections, from YA to academic libraries.-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three friends bike across America to bestow on the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., a basketball inscribed by everyday heroes. Based on Austin's documentary of the same name, which won the People's Choice Award at the Banff Film Festival, the book begins with a sketch of the three pilgrims. Austin and his best friend, Clint, were consumed by basketball; Austin's younger brother Jared was more interested in biking, but willing to go along on their pilgrimage to the "jock shrine" at the other end of the continent from their starting point in Venice Beach, Calif. Their journey took them to a number of unusual basketball venues, from a hoop nailed to a barn to a small-town court lit up at night. In one especially lovely scene, set in a court nestled alongside a cornfield, someone takes a long jump shot from deep in the stalks; the shooter rises like a ghost from the corn, "and that ol' ball sailed through the heartland sky, past all the constellations and galaxies." The story pivots around basketball, but is essentially about the journey and about the kindness of strangers. No unsung court wizards signed the basketball carried by Austin, Jared and Clint. The signers were heroes of a different stripe: generous-hearted people who offered the shoestring pilgrims a place to sleep, a bath, some food, somewhere to do the laundry. People tend to dominate his attention, but he's also adept at catching the atmosphere of a landscape. A sweet little piece of simple, optimistic entertainment. (8-page b&w photo insert, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592289738
  • Publisher: Lyons Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Austin is a filmmaker and writer based in New York City. His documentary of the trip, also titled True Fans, has screened in more than 150 cities in North America and sixteen film festivals. It was the winner of the People's Choice Award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Austin recently directed a film about street kids in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, worked on a feature-length documentary with Angleina Jolie, produced film projects in Iceland and Paraguay, and finished the final installment in his True Fans trilogy, True Fans Forever. True Fans is currently being developed into a musical for Broadway.

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