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The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy (Anglais) Relié – 27 octobre 2009

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Description du produit

Extrait

Chapter One


THE SECRET

I LEARNED THE secret of basketball while lounging at a topless pool in Las Vegas. As I learned the secret, someone’s bare breasts were staring at me from just eight feet away. The person explaining the secret was a Hall of Famer who once vowed to beat me up and changed his mind only because Gus Johnson vouched for me.

(Do I tell this story? Yes. I tell this story.)


Come back with me to July 2007. My buddy Hopper was pushing me to accompany him for an impromptu Vegas trip, knowing that I wouldn’t turn him down because of my Donaghy-level gambling problem. I needed permission from my pregnant wife, who was perpetually ornery from (a) carrying our second child during the hot weather months in California and (b) being knocked up because I pulled the goalie on her back in February.1 But here’s why I’m an evil genius: with the NBA Summer League happening at the same time, I somehow convinced her that ESPN The Magazine wanted a column about Friday’s quadruple-header featuring my favorite team (the Celtics), my favorite rookie (Kevin Durant), and the two Los Angeles teams (Clippers and Lakers). “I’ll be in and out in thirty-six hours,” I told her.

She signed off and directed her anger at the magazine for making me work on a weekend. (I told you, I’m shrewd.) I quickly called my editor and had the following exchange.

me: I don’t have a column idea this week. I’m panicking.

neil (my editor): Crap. I don’t know what to tell you, it’s a dead month.

(A few seconds of silence ensues.)

me: Hey, wait...isn’t the NBA Summer League in Vegas right now?

neil: Yeah, I think it is. What would you write about, though?

me: Lemme see what the schedule is for Friday. [I spend the next 20 seconds pretending to log onto NBA.com and look this up.] Oh my God—

Clippers at 3, Celtics at 5, Lakers at 6, Durant and the Sonics at 7! You have to let me go! I can get 1,250 words out of that! [Neil doesn’t respond.] Come on—Vegas? The Celtics and Durant? This column will write itself!

neil (after a long sigh): “Okay, fine, fine.”

Did I care that he sounded like I had just convinced him to donate me a kidney? Of course not! I flew down on Friday, devoured those four games and joined Hopper for drunken blackjack until the wee hours.2 The following morning, we woke up in time for a Vegas Breakfast (16-ounce coffee, bagel, large water), then headed down to the Wynn’s lavish outdoor blackjack setup, which includes:

1.Eight blackjack tables surrounding one of those square outdoor bars like the one where Brian Flanagan worked after he fled to Jamaica in Cocktail. Once you’ve gambled outdoors, your life is never quite the same. It’s like riding in a convertible for the first time.

2.Overhead mist machines blowing cool spray so nobody overheats, a crucial wrinkle during the scorching Vegas summer, when it’s frequently over 110 degrees outside and 170 degrees in every guy’s crotch.

3.A beautiful European pool tucked right behind the tables. Just so you know, “European” is a fancy way of saying, “It’s okay to go topless there.”3

If there’s a better male bonding experience, I can’t think of one. For our yearly guys’ trip one month earlier, we arrived right before the outdoor area opened (11:00 a.m.) and played through dinner. For the first three hours, none of the sunbathers was willing to pull a Jackie Robinson and break the topless barrier, so we decided the Wynn should hire six strippers to go topless every day at noon (just to break the ice) and have their DJ play techno songs with titles like “Take Your Tops Off,” “Come On, Nobody’s Looking,” “We’re All Friends Here,” “Unleash the Hounds,” and “What Do You Have to Lose? You’re Already Divorced.” By midafternoon, as soon as everyone had a few drinks in them, the ladies started flinging their tops off like Frisbees. Okay, not really. But two dozen women made the plunge over the next few hours, including one heavyset woman who nearly caused a riot by wading into the pool with her 75DDDDDDDDDDs. It was like being there when the Baby Ruth bar landed in the Bushwood pool; people were scurrying for their lives in every direction.4
So between seedy guys making runs at topless girls in the pool, horny blackjack dealers getting constantly distracted, aforementioned moments like the Baby Ruth/multi-D episode, the tropical feel of outdoors and the Mardi Gras/beads element of a Euro pool, ten weeks of entertainment and comedy were jam-packed into eight hours. Things peaked around 6:00 p.m. when an attractive blonde wearing a bikini joined our table, complained to the dealer, “I haven’t had a blackjack in three days,” then told us confidently, “If I get a blackjack, I’m going topless.” The pit boss declared that she couldn’t go topless, so they negotiated for a little bit, ultimately deciding that she could flash everyone instead. Yes, this conversation actually happened. Suddenly we were embroiled in the most exciting blackjack shoe of all time. Every time she got an ace or a 10 as her first card, the tension was more unbearable than the last five minutes of the final Sopranos episode. When she finally nailed her blackjack, our side of the blackjack section erupted like Fenway after the Roberts steal.5 She followed through with her vow, departed a few minutes later, and left us spending the rest of the night wondering how I could write about that entire sequence for ESPN The Magazine without coming off like a pig. Well, you know what? These are the things that happen in Vegas. I’m not condoning them, defending them, or judging them. Just understand that we don’t keep going because some bimbo might flash everyone at her blackjack table, we keep going for the twenty minutes afterward, when we’re rehashing the story and making every possible joke.6

Needless to say, wild horses couldn’t have dragged Hopper and me from the outdoor blackjack section during summer
league. We treaded water for a few hours when I ran into an old acquaintance who handled PR from the Knicks, as well as Gus Johnson, the much-adored March Madness and Knicks announcer who loves me mainly because I love him. Gus and I successfully executed a bear hug and a five-step handshake, and just as I was ready to make Gus announce a few of my blackjack hands (“Here’s the double-down card...Ohhhhhhhh! it’s a ten!”), he implored me to come over and meet his buddy Isiah Thomas.

Gulp.

Of any sports figure that I could have possibly met at any time in my life, getting introduced to Isiah that summer would have been my number one draft pick for the Holy Shit, Is This Gonna Be Awkward draft. Isiah doubled as the beleaguered GM of the Knicks and a frequent column target, someone who once threatened “trouble” if we ever crossed paths.7 This particular moment seemed to qualify. After the PR guy and I explained to Gus why a Simmons-Isiah introduction would be a stupifyingly horrific idea, Gus confidently countered, “Hold on, I got this, I got this, I’ll fix this.” And he wandered off as our terrified PR buddy said, “I’m getting out of here—good luck!”8

I played a few hands of rattled blackjack while wondering how to defend myself if Isiah came charging at me with a piña colada. After all, I killed this guy in my column over the years. I killed him for some of the cheap shots he took as a player, for freezing out MJ in the ’85 All-Star Game, for leading the classless walkout at the tail end of the Bulls-Pistons sweep in ’91. I killed him for pushing Bird under the bus by backing up Rodman’s foolish “he’d be just another good player if he were white” comments after the ’87 playoffs, then pretending like he was kidding afterward. (He wasn’t.) I killed him for bombing as a TV announcer, for sucking as Toronto’s GM, for running the CBA into the ground, and most of all, for his incomprehensibly ineffective performance running the Knicks. As I kept lobbing (totally justified) grenades at him, Isiah went on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show and threatened “trouble” if we ever met on the street. Like this was all my fault. Somewhere along the line, Isiah probably decided that I had a personal grudge against him, which simply wasn’t true—I had written many times that he was the best pure point guard I’d ever seen, as well as the most underappreciated star of his era. I even defended his draft record and praised him for standing up for his players right before the ugly Nuggets-Knicks brawl that featured Carmelo Anthony’s infamous bitch-slap/backpedal. It’s not like I was obsessed with ripping the guy. He just happened to be an easy target, a floundering NBA GM who didn’t understand the luxury tax, cap space, or how to plan ahead. For what I did for a living, Isiah jokes were easier than making fun of Flavor Flav at a celebrity roast. The degree of difficulty was a 0.0.

With that said, I would have rather been playing blackjack and drinking vodka lemonades then figuring out how to cajole a pissed-off NBA legend. When a somber Gus finally waved me over, I was relieved to get it over with. (By the way, there should be no scenario that includes the words “Gus Johnson” and “somber.” I feel like I failed America regardless of how this turned out.) Gus threw an arm around me and said something like, “Look, I straightened everything out, he’s willing to talk to you, just understand, he’s a sensitive guy, he takes this shit personally.”9 Understood. I followed him to a section of chairs near the topless pool, where Isiah was sipping a water and wea...

Revue de presse

“[A] slam dunk.”—USA Today

“The work of a true fan . . . It might just represent the next phase of sports commentary.”—The Atlantic

“May be one of those literary lollapaloozas that Simmons’s fans must buy.”—The New York Times
 
“Wildly prolific, ceaselessly witty, harmlessly crass, and generally wise, Simmons has built an everydude empire by triangulating the trashy pop-culture futon talk of Chuck Klosterman and the stats-heavy philosophizing of Malcolm Gladwell.”—The Village Voice
 
“This is just plain fun. . . . The true NBA fan will dive into this hefty volume and won’t resurface for about a week.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“The book flows much like Mr. Simmons’s ESPN columns. . . . Opinion gushes out of him. But he backs it up with equal parts serious research and off-angle observations. . . . He has produced enough provocative arguments to fuel barstool arguments far into the future.”—The Wall Street Journal

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Ce livre veut analyser la NBA par ses plus grands joueurs, et leurs relations avec leurs équipes successives. Farci d'anecdotes croustillante, il se lit d'abord avec facilité et gourmandise, avant de tomber dans l'écueil des classements et des justifications de ceux-ci, et là le rythme souffre, et on se prend à souhaiter que ça s'arrête malgré la connaissance de son sujet de l'auteur. Quant aux notes omniprésentes, on aime ou n'aime pas ; certaines tombent à pic, d'autres à plat. Un très bon livre pour les mordus de la NBA et de son histoire, les autres feraient mieux de passer leur chemin car ils risquent de s'ennuyer sec assez rapidement.
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Un enorme traité de basketball, parfois discutable, mais toujours argumenté, documenté et d'une mauvaise foi assumée. En plus, écrit dans une langue claire, sans trop de second degré, donc parfaitement lisible avec un anglais scolaire-lycée.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 461 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Book of Basketball Or: Why Did Bill Simmons Order These Chapters in This Manner? 11 décembre 2015
Par Zachary F. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A great read. Superb when Simmons doesn't let himself got lost in pop culture references. But for the life of me i cannot figure out why he ordered the chapters in the manner that he did. The meat of this book is The Pyramid, a ranking of the NBA greats. Its the best part, the thesis, the thrust of the book. Every other chapter should complement and support it. Chapters Two, Four, and Five are amazingly confusing if you don't have a great handle on who was who in the basketball Pyramid. All of those chapters occur before the basketball Pyramid. Chapter One (The Secret) and Three (How the Hell Did We Get Here?) are fantastic building blocks to the Pyramid (also probably his best chapters outside of the pyramid).

This would have been a 5 star with the below ordering and i would recommend a reader new to basketball (not aware of its history pre 2000) to read in the following order:

Prologue (A Four Dollar Ticket: Why Simmons loves basketball)
One (The Secret: the secret that makes a player great)
Three (How the Hell Did We Get Here?: a history of shifts in basketball rules, strategy, popularity and how it influenced the game)
Six to Eleven (The Pyramid)
Two (Russell, Then Wilt: why one was greater than the other. This comes right on the heels of the pyramid where they're fresh in your mind)
Five (Most Valuable Chapter: History of the most shady MVP awards)
Twelve (The Legend of Keyser Soze: The best single season by an NBA team)
Thirteen (The WIne Cellar: The best hypothetical NBA team)
Epilogue
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 One expert's fascinating (if skewed) view of the sport he loves 20 juillet 2014
Par Ken K. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Very interesting and engaging read, weakened only by Simmons' pronounced biases and historical blind spots. One simply has to learn to counter them.

For example, reduce by roughly 30% the praise he heaps upon any Celtics team or player, especially from his childhood in the mid-80s. Yes, these were great teams and athletes in many cases, but Simmons' adulation overcomes his objectivity here.

Increase by 20-25% his unenthused assessment of any star or team from an era before his time and for which he can find little video. (For example, being unable to view Julius Erving's astounding 5-year ABA career, during which Dr. J achieved heights (literal and figurative) of skill and creativity that no other hoopster has or will, leaves Simmons to assess Erving less generously (and less accurately) solely on his more restrained subsequent NBA work.)

Increase by 20% his assessment of any team that beat (or outdid) a Celtic team by playing better "Celtics basketball" (his assessments of the 69-70 and 72-73 NY Knicks championship teams are especially stingy).

And decrease by 15-20% his assessment of recent stars in the overall pantheon of NBA talent - again, he relies too heavily on the familiar.

Much here to pick nits and argue with, but also much to enjoy - and Simmons does communicate convincingly his love for the sport and the league. He could also be a bit more skeptical of the ways that marketing has weakened the sport and fan experience, but there are some hands that feed him that he might be best served not to bite.

Overall a very enjoyable read.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 I respect his sports opinion and enjoy his humor and writing style even if it's a ... 26 octobre 2015
Par Duy N. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I've been reading Bill Simmons since he started out on page 2 on ESPN. I respect his sports opinion and enjoy his humor and writing style even if it's a little long winded. Not sure how helpful my review is for anyone since it is biased, so I'll just say if you're a fan of his or anything on grantland then you won't regret buying this book.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wonderful Read 15 avril 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Great read, I confess that I do not read a lot but I just couldn't put down this 700 page book filled with Bill Simmon's style of cultural reference and exaggeration humor. Sometimes his humor or maybe 700 pages of basketball might get old and tiring for people but simply put it down, take a rest, and pick it up again whenever you feel like it. No harm done.

Personally my favorite section was Bill's idea on how the Basketball Hall of Fame should be, which leads to his list of greatest players ever. You may disagree but remember this is a book written by a FAN first, a Boston fan. If you're someone who has zero sense of humor, easily offended, extremely subjective and lacking in empathy, then maybe this book isn't for you. Otherwise you'll have a wonderful time hearing another friend talk basketball with you. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you disagree, sometimes he brings your image of your favorite players back down to earth by pointing out flaws, and sometimes he makes you realize how truly GREAT some players are with facts and analysis you didn't even know.

I still can't believe I actually read a 700 page book cover to cover.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An encyclopedic slam dunk binge for the purist hoops junkie 15 juin 2015
Par Tail End Boomer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I've always liked the Sports Guy and his flippant pro everyman rants by default since I grew up back east and share part of his ethnicity. He writes from the gut with a rare passion not seen among the literary sedentary set. Having said that, this book is too much to digest for casual fans. You must be from an A list basketball hub---Boston, LA, Chitown---or at least be an OCD hoops fanatic. A guy could get a stroke trying to read this in just a few sittings. Heck, writing it must've been a trip. So it has to be enjoyed in manic fits and starts or furtive bits 'n pieces. It's that exhausting and uber comprehensive.

The focus here beyond his dad's Celtics season tickets sealing his fate as a kid fan, is on pyramid pantheon best ever debates, what ifs, secret knowledge, team comparison compendiums and various other scenario incidentals. Simmons, master of the between the lines scoop, says what's on his mind, is quick to offend and may be off the cuff with tactless fan boy antics, but he thinks like a genius GM and really should be considered as part of an NBA team brain trust someday. BS's magnum opus is media layman proof that astute educated fans can know the game better than some insider suits.

His bias as a loyal Beantown homer is readily evident, but it doesn't detract from the overall tome scope. He has a hoop sleuth's way of witnessing the pall of history by outing its mistakes, rebuffs. etc. Like how inventor of the shot clock Danny Biasone and Celtics defensive clutch gem Dennis Johnson were snubbed from timely HoF induction. Via a coach sharp humanist link tying cults of personality to levels of performance, we learn that selfish players hit a ceiling and greats must share the ball to be transcendent. Someone give Bill a PhD in basketball. He really is an expert above the 4th estate rim.

As for fun pop culture trivia references he's well known for, they rock here when they relate to more civilized innocence of the 70s and 80s. However, when they veer off into the 90s and beyond they get too dystopian for old school taste. And there are so many offbeatedly forced porn references that it makes you wonder if he somehow missed his true calling in life. For the record, pop culture in bed with sports didn't start with Simmons. Twas ironically originated by an adult cinema historian who mixed pop, news and sports trivia intros with his movie reviews in an erotic film bible from the early 1980s.

There are just enough extras missing here to make room for a 2nd volume that would be salable at even half the length. With so much info on elite players and teams, this needed a tongue-in-cheek chapter on footnote characters of the game like Darryl Dawkins, aka Chocolate Thunder, a rushed high school prospect who never reached his full potential but was memorable for destroying backboards on slam dunks. It also could've used a special part on basketball video games. But if this book is so discursively expansive that you anticipate a welcome sequel, then that's surely saying something.
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