Sunday, March 24, 2013
Every March I decide to combine two of my favorite things, basketball and books. The problem is my first March Madness book, Ball Don't Lie, is still my favorite. It's not that I want something to topple Ball Don't Lie, it's on my all time favorites list. Just like with any sports event I would like something that looks like competition.
The biggest problem with Game (Goodreads | Amazon) is that the author writes too much about what happens on the court and not enough about what happens off the court. Because of that, Game severely limits it's readership to those who watch and understand basketball. Also those of us who watch basketball would rather watch basketball than read a book full of overly described play-by-plays.
Because the majority of the action takes place on the court the characters are never fully developed There's an interesting storyline, Drew a hot-shot player that wants to a Division I scholarship finds imself taking a backseat when his coach changes the game plan to focus on a new white player from Eastern Europe. This is supposed to be the driving force of the storyline and it should be. Sports stories are about people, their dreams, obstacles and how they overcome them. However, winning the regional tournament and making it to state takes up most of the novel and it really only touches on what a DI scholarship would mean for Drew.
There were also some times when you could tell the author was living in the past basketball-wise (maybe reliving his own basketball past). At one point the book mentioned North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky looking for white players. Sorry if maybe this is a point where I am too knowledgeable on at least where Kentucky is concerned. Former coach Joe B. Hall began really trying to recruit black players way back in 1965, so a book published in 2008 and includes iPods and cellphones, should be aware that the blueblood basketball programs have changed vastly since the racially charged 1960s. Another point where maybe the past, not the present, influenced the book was when the player "wrote" the National Letter of Intent rather than signing it. In the current model the school provides the letter which the student signs and returns to them. (Researched here) It's a binding contract between school and player, so in this litigious age it makes more sense than a high school athlete composing it himself.
This book was okay, a nice quick read about one of my favorite topics, but nothing particularly special. I want more sports books that understand what we (sports fan and non sports fan) looks for is the narrative of sports, not necessary the play-by-play, because what happens off the court is often just as important as what happens on the court.
In case you're curious about other basketball books, this is only a 3 year old tradition and sadly YA basketball novels aren't that common, the other March Madness book I reviewed was The Final Four. If anyone has any basketball book recommendations PLEASE share in the comments. This is something I'm actively wanting to read.