Pro basketball player Rasheed Wallace often exclaimed the pragmatic truth “Ball don’t lie!” during a game. It is a protest against a referee’s bad calls. But the slogan, which originated in pickup games, brings the reality of a racialized urban playground into mainstream American popular culture.
In Ball Don’t Lie!, Yago Colás traces the various forms of power at work in the intersections between basketball and language from the game’s invention to the present day. He critiques existing popular myths concerning the history of basketball, contextualizes them, and presents an alternative history of the sport inspired by innovations. Colás emphasizes the creative prerogative of players and the ways in which their innovations shapeand are shaped bybroader cultural and social phenomena.
Ball Don't Lie! shows that basketball cannot be reduced to a single, fixed or timeless essence but instead is a continually evolving exhibition of physical culture that flexibly adapts to and sparks changes in American society.
About the Author
Yago Colás teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature and in the Residential College at the University of Michigan and is the author of Postmodernity in Latin America: The Argentine Paradigm.
Table of Contents
Preface: In Praise of Heresy xi
Introduction: "Ball Don't Lie!" December 2, 2012 1
I Myths of the Basketball Republic (1891-1949)
1 The Myth of Creation, December 21, 1891 19
2 The Myth of Foundation, June 6, 1946 37
II Myths of the Modern Basketball State (1949-1991)
3 The Myth of the Rivalry, November 7, 1959 55
4 The Myth of the Garden, May 8, 1970 71
5 The Myth of the Amateurs, March 26, 1979 87
III Myths of the Basketball Empire (1991-Present)
6 The Myth of the Greatest of All Time, June 13, 1991 105
7 The Myth of Blackness, March 12, 1997 121
8 The Myth of the Right Way, June 15, 2004 137
9 The Myth of the Man, July 8, 2010 151