Book Review Of Hard Work

For many Kansas Jayhawks fans in April of 2003, Roy Williams leaving KU to replace Matt Doherty at North Carolina felt like insult to injury. The Jayhawks had just ended a beautiful 2 year run of Final Four finishes, but had failed to finish the job on both trips. Bad shot selection and a costly time out violation cost them in a heated game against the Juan Dixon–led Maryland Terrapins in the 2002 tournament. It was a disappointing way to end the season; especially being the first team to go undefeated in Big 12 conference play.

Despite losing two critical big men the following year (Drew Gooden to the NBA draft and Wayne Simien to a shoulder injury), the Jayhawks got back to the Final Four and almost overcame a poor first half and poor free throw shooting (they shot 11-31 from the charity stripe) only to come up short. Not only did they lose the National Championship by a mere 3 points, but they lost two of their storied players to graduation in Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, and on top of that they lost their head coach. It was a tender time for the KU faithful.

Hard Work puts this time period–and Roy Williams as a whole–in perspective. It is a touching and honest tale that gives us insight into what makes him tick. Williams discusses his family background growing up in Asheville, North Carolina and we follow him to his decision (inspired by his own high school coach Buddy Baldwin) to pursue a career in coaching during his junior year in high school. From there, he goes on to attend the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he plays on the junior varsity team and watches the Dean Smith run practices during his free time; sitting high in the bleachers while taking notes.

Through hard work and determination Williams pays his way through school by taking odd jobs until he finally graduates and finds a job coaching high school, while maintaining his connection at UNC–a connection that pays in dividends as he takes a pay cut to become an assistant coach for Dean Smith. It is Roy Williams who has a hand in recruiting such notable players as Rick Fox, Sam Perkins, and the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan.

After ten years of hard work for coach Dean Smith (a KU alum), that Williams leaves for Lawrence, Kansas (not without a great deal of hand wringing) after another UNC alum, Larry Brown leaves for an NBA job.

I picked up this book hoping to get some insight into the Lawrence to Chapel Hill parallel, and the coaching pipeline that started with Dean Smith. Unfortunately, Williams does little romanticizing about his time in Lawrence. It almost feels like he left Chapel Hill only for the sake of building his resume for when it was time to take over for Coach Smith. There are very little off the court details to his time in Lawrence, and I couldn’t help but wonder if taking the KU job helped him feel closer to Dean Smith and Larry Brown, having understood the culture surrounding both basketball programs.

Most of the details about his time in Lawrence involve recruiting and learning the ropes as the head coach of a major program. Although Roy Williams is a coaching legend, Hall of Famer, and one of the most decorated men to ever pick up a clipboard, there was a time when he faced a great deal of scrutiny. Despite going to two Final Fours in his first four years of coaching (Kansas was ineligible for post season play due to violations during the Larry Brown era), the media loved floating around the narrative that Roy couldn’t win the big one. No matter how talented the team, each season ended with Williams at a press conference crying into the microphone. It was an image I got used to seeing as a teenager in middle and high school.

Considering how tough it was at the time to get big time players to come to Lawrence to play basketball (players like Jason Kidd, Tayshaun Prince, Harold Minor, Thomas Hill, and Jimmy King all passed on coming to Kansas for various reasons–Larry Brown almost left the program in 1987 because he was afraid he couldn’t get big time recruits to come play there), one has to consider how well Williams performed his job as head coach at Kansas. Despite some good recruiting eras, the only Williams recruited player to come out of KU and go on to be a stud in the NBA was future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. At their professional best, Scot Pollard, Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Gooden, Hinrich, and Collison (who almost went to Duke which means Carlos Boozer might have been a Jayhawk, YUK!) were really good role players. Even now as the coach of UNC, despite already having won 3 national titles (narrowly missing out on a fourth because of a Villanova buzzer beater two seasons ago), San Antonio Spur, Danny Green happens to be the best NBA player to ever play for Roy at Chapel Hill.

Before picking up this book, I wasn’t sure what to think about Roy Williams. As a kid, I couldn’t tell if his  “aw shucks” demeanor and Huckleberry Hound accent was corny or earnest. I always found his emotional press conferences endearing. Most of the time, he talked about how badly he felt for his players, and often spoke of the disappointment that he couldn’t win them a championship.  Hard Work was a revealing read however, and there is a simplicity and self awareness about Roy Williams that you don’t find with many coaches of big time programs. Many high profile coaches come off as smug, pompous and self righteous, or at their worst, fast talking hucksters and pimps.

As for his coaching, there is no doubt what kind of legacy he will leave when he finally decides to hang it up. He is not even 70 yet, but I don’t get the sense he is ready to rest on his laurels. UNC is the kind of basketball program that sells itself, and he doesn’t have to work as hard to get big time recruits to come to Chapel Hill. Years ago, I was wondering if he was close to retire from the stress of running a big time program. Now I understand that Coach Williams enjoys the challenge and its part of his competitive nature to scream and yell on the sideline as if every possession were the last. It took lots of hard work, but it feels like Roy has cracked the code, and he may win another four or five titles when its all said and done.

And for those Jayhawks fans who were upset back in 2003, it looks as if things worked out for both parties. Williams’ replacement, Bill Self has created his own legacy in Lawrence, winning 14 straight conference titles, and took KU took a title by his fifth year of coaching (defeating a talented North Carolina team in the Final Four on the way to that championship). Kansas fans can hang their hat on jump-starting the UNC program by giving them their storied coach in Dean Smith. Coach Smith returned the favor by sending pupils Larry Brown and Roy Williams back to Lawrence to keep the winning tradition alive. But if you think about it, Williams grew up in Asheville, married his wife while being a student at North Carolina, cut his teeth as a coach at Carolina, and even though his son and daughter both went to Lawrence High School; they also both attended school in Chapel Hill (his son Scott won a state title at Lawrence High and went on to play for Bill Gutheridge, while his daughter was on the UNC dance team). KU fans should have seen the move coming a mile away. Coach Williams was always a Tar Heel; he was just on loan to Kansas until the program needed him again.




profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. For booking inquiries, send contact info to



Rockin’ Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool: A Book Review

Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s words of advice for anyone who would listen was to “be different. don’t follow the crowd and leave your own footprint.” Frazier took his own advice when he teamed up with John lane (illustrations), Walter Looss Jr. (photos), and New York Times writer Ira Berkow to create one of the most entertaining and creative basketball books I’eve ever come across. 


Bill Russell writes a sincere and succinct foreword to begin the book and from there Frazier gives his readers insight into being “Clyde” and offers advice on other topics. Frazier shares his thoughts on “cool”, defense, offense, game days, and even doles out a few grooming secrets that range from hilarious to unorthodox (and possibly border on the OCD side of the game). This book even has an itemized inventory of his personal wardrobe. One of the more entertaining sections  is where Frazier gives his analytical breakdown on “vines”, romancing, getting women, and –believe it or not–catching flies.

What you will find from this read is that not only is Clyde Frazier one of the most brilliant basketball minds to have played the game (I always enjoy his analysis on MSG telecasts of the Knicks), but he is also one of the most colorful and eccentric players to come through the league. His personality shines through in his anecdotes and personal insights. Frazier didn’t hold back and the project stands out that much more because of this. If (God forbid) my place were to ever catch on fire, this book and my laptop would be the first items I’d grab before I ran out the door in my undies. It is a fun and unique read that one is hard pressed to find in any athlete written book. This book gets an A +.


By the way, in Game Seven of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Lakers, Frazier put up a 36 point, 19 assists , 7 and rebound stat line–how about that for clutch?


profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. For booking inquiries, send contact info to 


Giant Steps: A Book Review


For starters, I can’t think of a more aptly chosen title than Giant Steps for the first autobiography by Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Not only was Kareem a giant among men with his 7”2 frame, but he was also a renowned jazz aficionado. Giant Steps, of course, was one of John Coltrane’s signature albums and considered in the canon of jazz records ever cut.

There is a wealth of information to cull through in this book. Now 70 years of age, Jabbar’s lifespan cuts through the most seminal time period of this country’s modern history. When you consider how Kareem’s playing career parallels the development of the country we now know, this book becomes an important document in U.S. history.

The most notable items from this autobiography are:

  • How Kareem’s Catholic upbringing affected his development as a person and a student athlete.
  • Growing up in New York (especially Harlem) during the 1950’s and 1960’s and how that affected his self-identity.
  • Playing for Jack Donohue at Power Memorial High School.
  • The culture shock he encountered while he attended UCLA during the height of “Flower Power” era.
  • Playing basketball under the tutelage of Hall of Famer, and master strategist John Wooden.
  • His religious conversion to Islam and the subsequent change of his Christian name, Lou Alcindor.
  • His disastrous first marriage (an extremely honest and vulnerable chapter).
  • His playing days in Milwaukee.
  • His perspective on the infamous “punch” by Kermit Washington to Rudy Tomjanovich’s face.
  • The trade that sent him to the Lakers and playing during the “Showtime” era.


Kareem Abdul Jabbar is your quintessential renaissance man: intellectual, one of the best athletes of all time, and add to his resume, accomplished author. This a great book and easy read (unlike his other biography, Kareem which at times felt like a long laborious affair). It feels like you are sitting underneath  Kareem’s veranda at his house in Hawaii, listening to him tell these stories over a cup of organic tea and a joint. His pen game is highly eloquent, and Jabbar has quite a keen sense of observation for the time period he came of age in, and the historic events that he lived through. This book gets a solid A+ for being so engaging and thorough.




profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to 

Sacred Hoops: A Book Review


Nothing that you may have read by or about Jackson makes any sense when you consider the utter train wreck that he helped facilitate during his days as the president of team operations for the New York Knicks. In fact, it is downright puzzling to witness a man–who at one time was considered one of the greatest active minds in basketball—shit on his own legacy in such a short period of time. From his awkward attempts at running a Twitter account, to his public breakup with Lakers co-owner Jeannie Buss, to his bizarre feud with Carmelo Anthony, things have been nothing short of cringe worthy for the Zen Master.

I’ve written extensively about Phil Jackson’s coaching acumen and his basketball I.Q. when I reviewed Crazy Basketball and More Than a Game, and I felt compelled to write about him again because why not? His insistence alone on espousing the basketball purity of the “Triangle Offense” is reason enough to doubt Jackson’s reasoning. You would think that someone who believes that impermanence is a fundamental fact of life (you can’t step into the same river twice) would be able to adjust with the times. But no. Phil fucked it up for everyone, and my boy, Alex Knapp called it the very first day that the Knicks introduced Derek Fisher as the next New York head coach (wow doesn’t that seem forever ago?).

I can’t say that this book has more to offer than Maverick, or More Than a Game, it details the beginning of his coaching career, when (much like Luke Walton) his playing career was cut short by injuries. Jackson notes that sitting next to the legendary Red Holtzman during games taught him a different way of looking at the game of basketball.

Jackson talks about the development of his personal beliefs in accordance with his own basketball philosophies. Raised Pentecostal, he grew to embrace a Zen Christianity form of religion, and used that to help teach his viewpoints about basketball, invoking phrases like “Chop Wood, Carry Water”, “Don’t let anger cloud the mind”, and “awareness is everything”. 

When Phil discovered Tex Winter’s “Triple Post” Offense, he felt that it encompassed everything he wanted to teach to his basketball players, that it was a structure that could empower everyone on the floor, and that it employed the seven principles of a sound offensive strategy.

The book does a great job of taking the reader through Jackson’t time coaching in the Puerto Rican Superior League and for the CBA’s Albany Patroons, where he experimented with his lineups and personnel. He played two five man units in eight minute intervals, with the best playing five guys in the final eight minute quarter. Interestingly enough, each player was paid the exact same wage, which is something a team could only get away with in a non-NBA league back then.

It is a pretty enjoyable read, and if one can somehow forget that any of the post Lakers era stuff happened, then it is easier to read Jackson talk about the philosophy of mindfulness without a bit of cynicism creeping in. It’s hard to not laugh when reading Jackson tell a player that the “power of we is stronger than the power of me.” knowing that he made Melo’s final season as a Knick a living hell. 

I suggest that any basketball fan, or aspiring coach read this book, but to also take everything with a grain of salt. I don’t know whether to think Phil Jackson is a genius, a guru, a huckster, or a hypocrite. I can say however, that he is one of the more compelling characters to make an impact in the NBA, and this book is just another example of this fact.

B +



 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to


Book Review: John Feinstein’s A Season Inside

Growing up, I used to see John Feinstein on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters and think that he looked like the dude that Demi Moore married for his monies in the Dead Right episode of “Tales From the Crypt.”

I first ran across one of his books in college when a hoops junkie friend of mine kept A Season Inside on the base of his toilet. I’d check it out on the occasions I needed his restroom to poop. I knew Feinstein was a writer, but had no idea he wasted a whole season following around that jerkfaced, bigoted bully of man, Bobby Knight, his subject for the book, A Season on the Brink. I’d give it a review, but that would mean I had to read it first. No thank you! #Hardpass

Feinstein’s writing in A Season Inside embodies every corny white sportswriter from the 1980’s as he travels across the country following various programs during the 1988 college basketball season. Every trite basketball cliche that you could possibly list makes the cut in this book. If I took a shot of Patron for every time Feinstein uses the adjective “articulate” to describe a black athlete, I’d still be too drunk to write this post.

There are moments in the book where I can’t tell if I’m reading non-fiction or one of those sports novels I would get as a middle schooler from the Scholastic Book Club. Feinstein was so intent on setting up a scene that he even purports to know what everyone is thinking in real time. Fortunately the book doesn’t always read this way (imagine reading four hundred plus pages of this type of nonsense), and it wasn’t complete shit. But I heavily skimmed through this one stopping only to read about the Duke, Kansas, UNC and Arizona chapters. It is easy to forget that Villanova was once a Big East powerhouse back when Rollie Massimino was pulling the reins as the head coach. Other notable cameos through the book are:

  • Navy’s David Robinson waiting out his obligation to Uncle Sam so that he can suit up for the San Antonio Spurs.
  • Larry “pound for pound” Brown yelling at senior All American Danny Manning on their way to a championship season. At one point Larry Brown is found contemplating if it is even possible to compete for a national title in a town like Lawrence. Also of note, KU teammates Kevin Pritchard and Milt Newton go on to become NBA general managers, as well as assistant coach R.C. Buford. Also on the KU coaching staff at this time, the infamous Alvin Gentry.
  • Current Jazz head coach Quin Snyder reportedly getting abused throughout the 1988 campaign, further enhancing his legacy as a basketball buster. Teammate Billy King would become THE Billy King who would go on to become the Brooklyn Nets GM, and we all know how that will turn out.
  • The late Dean Smith somehow getting through the brutal ACC league without a legit point guard and his best players being J.R. Reid, future Bulls forward Scott Williams and Rick Fox (of Party Down fame).
  • Rookie underachieving head coach Rick Barnes in his first year at George Mason
  • Late NC State Jim Valvano only a few years away from giving his infamous “Never Give Up” ESPY speech, and subsequent death.
  • The beginning of Lute Olson’s peak coaching years at the University of Arizona, with many juicy Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott anecdotes (anyone else Judd Buechler and Tom Tolbert?).
  • The infamous Billy Tubbs making his coaching bones at the University of Oklahoma with a solid crew of Mookie Blaylock, Stacy King, and Harvey Grant.


John Feinstein is a cornball, but I appreciate his attention to detail. His game notes must’ve been impeccable because he was able to recall various moments and sequences throughout multiple runs in the games he attended. Although this book is way too long (again; over four hundred pages), it is worth a good skim through–especially if you are a University of Kansas fan.

The amount of time Feinstein spends on teams in conferences no one gives a fuck about really bogs the reading down. But I think if you are a fan of the game (especially the NBA), it is interesting reading to go back and revisit the college careers of guys whose careers were washed ages ago, but continue to act as ambassadors of basketball as we know today.




profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to 




More Than A Game: A Book Review

Characteristics of a Sound Offense (According to Phil Jackson and Charley Rosen)

1. Must penetrate the defense.

      a)Create good % shots. Define what is a good shot for each player

      b) Stress inside power game. Play for the 3 pt. power play.

      c)Break down all defenses from full court presses to double teams.

2. Transition basketball starts on defense. Look to run!

3. Provides proper floor spacing 15’-18’, creating an operating room and clearing area on the court. Keeps defense occupied on and off the ball.

4.Provides player and ball movement with a purpose. There is only one ball and 5 players. All things being equal, a player is without the ball 80 % of the time.

5. Provides strong rebound position and good defensive balance on all good shot.

6.Provides the player with the ball an opportunity to pass to any of his teammates.Utilize the abilities of the individual players. Must create high % shots for a team’s best shooters, rebound opportunities for best drivers.



More Than A Game is as close to a philosophy book as you will find on the game of basketball. A coach is only as successful as their coaching philosophy. John Wooden had his Pyramid of Success, Don Nelson had Nellie-ball, which was about creating defensive mismatches by having the best five offensive players on the court at one time, and Tex Winters had the Triangle Offense (also called the Triple Post); which hit the peak of its success when Phil Jackson implemented it with the Chicago Bulls, and later with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Though some chapters are dedicated to filling in the gaps of the coauthor’s lives, the book doesn’t get bogged down in the “who, what, and why’s”. The narrative thread is seamless despite the jumps in place and time. The reader learns  about Jackson’s Knicks days and how he met Rosen during this time period.

Phil discusses his upbringing and the road that led him to him abandon the Pentecostal concepts of sinning, the afterlife, and redemption, for Zen Christianity (essentially trading in a belief in the otherworldly for something tangible and non-theistic). Jackson expresses how the attraction for the Triangle philosophy almost mirrors his personal religious aesthetic, as he recites the Noble Eightfold Path and how it relates to hoops:

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Jackson goes on to further explain that “Right thought means being in the moment as much as humanly possible. Right action means playing every play, every quarter, every game to its fullest.Winning is only the secondary effect of right thinking and right action.”

Jackson embrace of the Triangle Offense came when he and Tex Winter were Bulls assistant coaches under Doug Collins. Jackson thought the Winter’s offensive scheme reminded him of his time playing for Red Holtzman (who Phil got to watch up close when he was on the bench with a back injury). When Phil was finally promoted to head coach (after Doug Collins’ dismissal), he kept Winter on as an assistant and let Winter install the offense that both credit for their coaching success. Why was it so successful? According to Phil Jackson:

  • Provides a clear purpose and direction with implicit goals.
  • Trains and educates new people, who in turn learn how they can contribute.
  • It rewards unselfish behavior which in turn renews the system.
  • Makes for easier transition through times of change.
  • Provides context within which a leader can integrate all the skills of the team.

The Bulls were able to win 6 titles despite not ever having a dominate point guard or center, and the Lakers managed to win multiple titles with a bunch of role players (some of them scrubs) filling the stat sheet with whatever Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal could not do themselves.

Some of the other highlights from this book are

  • Getting confirmation from both Charley Rosen and Phil Jackson that Rick Barry is indeed an asshole.
  • Jim Cleamons theory on why east coast bred players practice harder than west coast guys.
  • A scene with Phil, Charley, and Tex watching an instructional video by “Pistol” Pete Maravich and discussing the phenomenon of the palming violation.
  • Phil’s and Charley’s collective coaching experiences in the Puerto Rico Superior League and CBA.
  • Jim Cleamons and Quinn Buckner’s (separate) attempts to install the triple post offense as head coaches in Dallas, and the player reactions.
  • Despite Portland going 13 straight possessions without scoring, the Trailblazers lost not because they choked, but because they were gassed from coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 1999-2000 conference finals.
  • The genesis of the triangle going all the way back to USC coach Sam Barry’s “Center Option with a reverse action” playbook.


Littered with hoops jargon and diagrams that illustrate the basic ways to fill a triangle; More Than a Game strikes a beautiful balance of real life experiences with  X’s and O’s. The symmetry of Jackson and Rosen’s storytelling reveals accuracy of the phrase “basketball is an expression of life.” Each experience is treated as merely another step on the path to basketball nirvana. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to go into coaching–basketball or otherwise. A+



 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to





A Book Review of :07 Seconds or Less

If you’ve read Sports Illustrated or stumbled across the book Unfinished Business, then you are familiar with the work of Jack McCallum. Mccallum has been a notable figure in the sports journalism circles for decades as a basketball writer for SI, and his various paperback books about both basketball and non-basketball related topics. He is currently in the basketball Hall of Fame as a writer, and for any older school Celtics fans of the Parish,Bird, and McHale era should get their hands on Unfinished Business.


Much like Unfinished Business, McCallum follows around the ’05-06 Phoenix Suns during their entire season like he did with the 1990-91 Boston Celtics. The biggest difference is that McCallum gets an incredibly rare glimpse into NBA minutiae as an unofficial “assistant coach” of the team; sitting in on meetings and going on road trips with the other team assistants. This access pays off as McCallum gives readers an intimate (but sometimes unfair) snapshot of the pivotal and inane moments  of the Suns unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals.

Some of these moments include:

  • Boris Diaw making a name for himself in the wake of the Amare Stoudemire season ending knee injury, and become the lynch pin to seeing Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy come to fruition. It is hard to believe today, but Boris Diaw came into the league as a 6’8 guard.
  • Raja Bell at the peak of his NBA career, and laboring to keep a spot in the NBA, he finally finds a place where he can thrive.
  • Eddie House (yes that one) and his hilarious locker room quips.
  • Pre-game, mid-game, and post game conversations among assistant coaches ranging from what adjustments need to be made from game to game, to the best places to eat in certain cities after NBA games.
  • The Suns coming back from a *cough* 3-1 series deficit against the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
  • The Suns-Clipper second series that turned when Mike Dunleavy Sr. decided to put a green Daniel Ewing in the game to guard (and subsequently lose) Raja Bell in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter.
  • Tim Thomas. Remember that guy?
  • The strained relationship between the Colangelos and Robert Sarver, and why the Phoenix experiment ultimately failed. I’ll give you one hint. It wasn’t because of the Colangelo family (I never realized that Joe Johnson was traded. I’d always was under the impression he left as a free agent).
  • Steve Nash yelling out the time remaining on the “Clickety” before each tip-off.
  • Dirk Nowitzki’s epic 50 point game in a pivotal game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
  • Alvin Gentry’s humorous anecdotes about players and coaches, including the time Jerry Stackhouse beat up Kirk Snyder.
  • NBA pre-game routines of players, coaches and staff.
  • Then NBA commissioner David Stern issuing a racially coded league wide dress policy.

The book is a real Who’s Who of names from that time period, and I found myself reminiscing on how good Corey Maggette and Elton Brand were back in the day. If you ever listen to the Truehoop podcast (and I highly recommend you do so if you haven’t yet), you may hear Amin El Hassan refer to his time in Phoenix during the SSOL era, and how he went from having some of the most fun he’d ever had on a job, to hating to even come to work.

McCallum captures the sweet period of that blip in franchise’s history before it went sour and all the front office guys went on to do bigger and better things (people like Steve Kerr, David Griffin). My only criticism is that there are a few times that McCallum comes off as an out of touch, old, white guy who has trouble relating to this new generation of stars. The Phoenix staff, although welcoming, does not take it easy on him, and Jack occasionally is the butt of joke just by being there as a writer.

I also wonder if he could do it again, would McCallum leave out some of the more unflattering passages of Shawn Marion and/or Amare Stoudemire. It is these instances where I often considered if he understood the weight of the perceptions he was giving; as sometimes Marion and Stoudemire were unfairly portrayed as dumb, lazy, or selfish.

I personally felt that McCallum could have still moved the story along without including these superficial broad strokes of their characters. Both Marion and Stoudemire overcame seriously adverse circumstances to become the people they were, and McCallum failed to give readers this balanced look at their lives.

All that being said, it is a really fun read, and quite funny. It moves along with the same pace as those high-octane D’Antoni offenses, moving from one place to another with ease. If you’ve read some of Jack McCallum’s other works, it isn’t an unfair criticism to call some of his writings stale and out of touch. This book is only slightly out of touch.

I give it an A minus.


 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to