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African Soccerscapes
How a Continent Changed the World’s Game
Peter Alegi
Ohio University Press, 2010
From Accra and Algiers to Zanzibar and Zululand, Africans have wrested control of soccer from the hands of Europeans, and through the rise of different playing styles, the rituals of spectatorship, and the presence of magicians and healers, have turned soccer into a distinctively African activity. African Soccerscapes explores how Africans adopted soccer for their own reasons and on their own terms. Soccer was a rare form of “national culture” in postcolonial Africa, where stadiums and clubhouses became arenas in which Africans challenged colonial power and expressed a commitment to racial equality and self-determination. New nations staged matches as part of their independence celexadbrations and joined the world body, FIFA. The Confédération africaine de football democratized the global game through antiapartheid sanctions and increased the number of African teams in the World Cup finals. In this compact, highly readable book Alegi shows that the result of this success has been the departure of huge numbers of players to overseas clubs and the growing influence of private commercial interests on the African game. But the growth of women’s soccer and South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup also challenge the one-dimensional notion of Africa as a backward, “tribal” continent populated by victims of war, corruption, famine, and disease.

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The Audacity of Hoop
Basketball and the Age of Obama
Alexander Wolff
Temple University Press, 2015

While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate. 

Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms. 

Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.

Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.  


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Ball Don't Lie
Myth, Genealogy, and Invention in the Cultures of Basketball
Yago Colás
Temple University Press, 2016

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 shape—and are shaped by—broader 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.


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Ball Hawks
The Arrival and Departure of the NBA in Iowa
Tim Harwood
University of Iowa Press, 2018

Believe it or not, Waterloo, Iowa, had an NBA team during the league’s first season, 1949 to 1950. Broadcaster and independent sports historian Tim Harwood uncovers the fascinating story of the Waterloo Hawks and the Midwest’s influence on professional basketball. Beginning with the professional leagues that led up to the creation of the National Basketball Association, Harwood recounts big games and dramatic buzzer-beaters, and the players who made them. 

The first season of the NBA was far from a success. Teams had a hard time attracting fans, with games often played in half-empty arenas. When Waterloo residents learned that the team was struggling financially, they rallied behind the Hawks and purchased shares of the team in a bid to keep it afloat. Unfortunately, that community-based effort was not enough; owners of teams in larger markets pressured the league to push Waterloo—and other smaller towns like Anderson, Indiana, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin—out of the league. 

Though the Hawks disappeared after their lone NBA campaign, Waterloo and other midwestern teams were nonetheless integral to getting the NBA off the ground, and their legacy continues today through some of the current franchises that relocated to larger markets. Combining newspaper accounts and personal interviews with surviving players, Harwood weaves a fascinating story of the underdog team, in the unlikeliest of places, that helped make professional basketball the worldwide success it is today. 


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Before March Madness
The Wars for the Soul of College Basketball
Kurt Edward Kemper
University of Illinois Press, 2020
Big money NCAA basketball had its origins in a many-sided conflict of visions and agendas. On one side stood large schools focused on a commercialized game that privileged wins and profits. Opposing them was a tenuous alliance of liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges, and regional state universities, and the competing interests of the NAIA, each with distinct interests of their own.

Kurt Edward Kemper tells the dramatic story of the clashes that shook college basketball at mid-century—and how the repercussions continue to influence college sports to the present day. Taking readers inside the competing factions, he details why historically black colleges and regional schools came to embrace commercialization. As he shows, the NCAA's strategy of co-opting its opponents gave each group just enough just enough to play along—while the victory of the big-time athletics model handed the organization the power to seize control of college sports.

An innovative history of an overlooked era, Before March Madness looks at how promises, power, and money laid the groundwork for an American sports institution.


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Big Game, Small World
A Basketball Adventure
Alexander Wolff
Duke University Press, 2022

During the late 1990s, eminent basketball journalist Alexander Wolff traveled the globe to determine how a game invented by a Canadian clergyman became an international phenomenon. Big Game, Small World presents Wolff’s dispatches from sixteen countries spread across five continents and multiple US states. In them, he asks: What can the game tell us about the world? And what can the world tell us about the game? Whether traveling to Bhutan to challenge its king to a pickup game, exploring the women’s game in Brazil, or covering the Afrobasket tournament in Luanda, Angola, during a civil war, Wolff shows how basketball has the power to define an individual, a culture, and even a country.

This updated twentieth anniversary edition features a new preface in which Wolff outlines the contemporary rise of athlete-activists while discussing the increasing dominance within the NBA of marquee international players like Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo. A loving celebration of basketball, Big Game, Small World is one of the most insightful books ever written about the game.


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Black Men Can't Shoot
Scott N. Brooks
University of Chicago Press, 2009

The myth of the natural black athlete is widespread, though it’s usually talked about only when a sports commentator or celebrity embarrasses himself by bringing it up in public. Those gaffes are swiftly decried as racist, but apart from their link to the long history of ugly racial stereotypes about black people—especially men—they are also harmful because they obscure very real, hard-fought accomplishments. As Black Men Can’t Shoot demonstrates, such successes on the basketball court don’t happen just because of natural gifts—instead, they grow out of the long, tough, and unpredictable process of becoming a known player.

Scott Norman Brooks spent four years coaching summer league basketball in Philadelphia. And what he saw, heard, and felt working with the young black men on his team tells us much about how some kids are able to make the extraordinary journey from the ghetto to the NCAA. He tells the story of two young men, Jermaine and Ray, following them through their high school years and chronicling their breakthroughs and frustrations on the court as well as their troubles at home. Black Men Can’t Shoot is a moving coming-of-age story that counters the belief that basketball only exploits kids and lures them into following empty dreams—and shows us that by playing ball, some of these young black men have already begun their education even before they get to college.


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Bulls Markets
Chicago's Basketball Business and the New Inequality
Sean Dinces
University of Chicago Press, 2018
An unvarnished look at the economic and political choices that reshaped contemporary Chicago—arguably for the worse. ​

The 1990s were a glorious time for the Chicago Bulls, an age of historic championships and all-time basketball greats like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. It seemed only fitting that city, county, and state officials would assist the team owners in constructing a sparkling new venue to house this incredible team that was identified worldwide with Chicago. That arena, the United Center, is the focus of Bulls Markets, an unvarnished look at the economic and political choices that forever reshaped one of America’s largest cities—arguably for the worse.

Sean Dinces shows how the construction of the United Center reveals the fundamental problems with neoliberal urban development. The pitch for building the arena was fueled by promises of private funding and equitable revitalization in a long-blighted neighborhood. However, the effort was funded in large part by municipal tax breaks that few ordinary Chicagoans knew about, and that wound up exacerbating the rising problems of gentrification and wealth stratification. In this portrait of the construction of the United Center and the urban life that developed around it, Dinces starkly depicts a pattern of inequity that has become emblematic of contemporary American cities: governments and sports franchises collude to provide amenities for the wealthy at the expense of poorer citizens, diminishing their experiences as fans and—far worse—creating an urban environment that is regulated and surveilled for the comfort and protection of that same moneyed elite.

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The Capital of Basketball
A History of DC Area High School Hoops
"A great basketball book." —New York Times
Georgetown University Press, 2019

The celebration of Washington D.C. basketball is long overdue. The D.C. metro area stands second to none in its contributions to the game. Countless figures who have had a significant impact on the sport over the years have roots in the region, including E.B. Henderson, the first African-American certified to teach public school physical education, and Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to take the court in an actual NBA game. The city's Spingarn High School produced two players – Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing – recognized among the NBA’s 50 greatest at the League’s 50th anniversary celebration. No other high school in the country can make that claim.These figures and many others are chronicled in this book, the first-ever comprehensive look at the great high school players, teams and coaches in the D.C. metropolitan area. Based on more than 150 interviews, The Capital of Basketball is first and foremost a book about basketball. But in discussing the trends and evolution of the game, McNamara also uncovers the turmoil in the lives of the players and area residents as they dealt with prejudice, educational inequities, politics, and the ways the area has changed through the years.


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Cheating the Spread
Gamblers, Point Shavers, and Game Fixers in College Football and Basketball
Albert J. Figone
University of Illinois Press, 2012
Delving into the history of gambling and corruption in intercollegiate sports, Cheating the Spread recounts all of the major gambling scandals in college football and basketball. Digging through court records, newspapers, government documents, and university archives and conducting private interviews, Albert J. Figone finds that game rigging has been pervasive and nationwide throughout most of the sports' history. The insidious practice has spread to implicate not only bookies and unscrupulous gamblers but also college administrators, athletic organizers, coaches, fellow students, and the athletes themselves.
Naming the players, coaches, gamblers, and go-betweens involved, Figone discusses numerous college basketball and football games reported to have been fixed and describes the various methods used to gain unfair advantage, inside information, or undue profit. His survey of college football includes early years of gambling on games between established schools such as Yale, Princeton, and Harvard; Notre Dame's All-American halfback and skilled gambler George Gipp; and the 1962 allegations of insider information between Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and former Georgia coach James Wallace "Wally" Butts; and many other recent incidents. Notable events in basketball include the 1951 scandal involving City College of New York and six other schools throughout the East Coast and the Midwest; the 1961 point-shaving incident that put a permanent end to the Dixie Classic tournament; the 1978 scheme in which underworld figures recruited and bribed several Boston College players to ensure a favorable point spread; the 1994-95 Northwestern scandal in which players bet against their own team; and other recent examples of compromised gameplay and gambling.

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Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry
The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire
Tom Kertscher
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

Al McGuire was the Mark Twain of college basketball. Never was there a figure in the game so quoted and so quotable, on sports and on the human condition. This book collects more than a hundred of McGuire’s most colorful quotations, plus photographs from his life and career, in a tribute that is funny, poignant, and brimming with his streetwise sagacity.
    McGuire, a brash and fiery New Yorker who grew up working in his parents’ saloon, played a rough and tumble game of basketball at St. John’s University and briefly in the NBA before entering the coaching ranks. He reached the pinnacle of his profession and gained national fame at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where in thirteen seasons he compiled a 295-80 record, appeared in nine NCAA tournaments, and won eighty-one home games in a row. He was a fine coach who cared deeply about his players and was beloved by his teams and fans alike, but his flamboyance and his mouth sometimes got him into trouble. The end of his coaching career captivated the nation: McGuire wept on the bench as his Marquette Warriors won the national title.
McGuire then began a ground-breaking career in network broadcasting, adding a zest and unconventionality that the college game had never seen. His sometimes bizarre and always entertaining commentary kept viewers tuned in even after the outcome of a lopsided game was a foregone conclusion. When Al McGuire died of leukemia in 2001, the sports world lost a true original.


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The Digital NBA
How the World's Savviest League Brings the Court to Our Couch
Steven Secular
University of Illinois Press, 2023
The National Basketball Association reaches a global audience via a multiplatform strategy that leverages its uncanny ability to connect fans to all things NBA. Steven Secular brings readers inside the league’s global operations and traces the history of the NBA’s approach to sports media from its 1980s embrace of cable through the streaming revolution of the twenty-first century. As fans around the world stream games and other league content, NBA teams incorporate foreign languages and cultures into broadcasts to boost their product’s appeal to audiences in Brazil, China, and beyond. Secular’s analysis reveals how the NBA continues to transform itself into a wildly successful media producer and distributor more akin to a streaming studio than the sports leagues of old even as its media partners and sponsors erase any notion of sports as a civic good.

A timely look at a dynamic media landscape, The Digital NBA shows how the games we love became content first and sport a distant second.


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The UNC Scandal and College Athletics' Amateur Ideal
Andy Thomason
University of Michigan Press, 2021

In 2009, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was on top of the world.

Consistently named one of the top universities in the country, it had welcomed a new phenom of a chancellor who promised to lead the public Ivy into the future. In the all-important athletic realm, the Tar Heels were the Coca-Cola of athletic brands. Resting upon the legacy of legendary basketball coach Dean Smith, UNC had carved out a reputation of excellence paired with squeaky-clean adherence to the rules. Supporters had a name for that irresistible ethos: the Carolina Way. The Tar Heels were climbing even higher. That year, they won their fifth national championship in men's basketball and looked poised to climb the ranks in football under a new, high-powered coach.

But within just a few years, it all came crashing down.

The Tar Heels' success, it turned out, was based on a foundation of deceit. Athletes were flocking to a slate of fake classes that advisers deftly used to keep them eligible to play. That revelation and others metastasized into one of the most damaging scandals ever to visit an American college. In Discredited, journalist Andy Thomason provides a gripping and authoritative retelling of the scandal through the eyes of four of its key participants: the secretary who presided over the fake classes, the professor who directed players toward them, the literacy specialist turned whistleblower who sought to expose the system, and the chancellor who found his career suddenly on the line. The heart-stopping narrative reveals the toll of a college's investment in major sports, and the amateurism myth upon which it is based. Based on dozens of original interviews and thousands of pages of documents, Discredited demonstrates just how far a university will go to preserve the athletic status quo: tolerating tarnished careers, ruined reputations, and years of scathing media criticism—all for a shot at competitive glory.


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Race and Professional Basketball in the Deep South, 1947–1979
Thomas Aiello
University of Tennessee Press, 2019
In this book Thomas Aiello considers the special cultural function of professional basketball in the Deep South over the half century between 1947 and 1979. Next to their counterparts in baseball and football, basketball fans enjoyed a unique intimacy with their favorite players, who showed more of their bodies and had nothing covering their face and head. For this and other similar reasons, blackness simply mattered more in basketball than it did in other sports. By the time Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, professional basketball was 47.5 percent black and becoming known as a “black sport.” That being the case, the South’s relationship with professional basketball was more fraught, and made the survival of southern teams more tenuous, fan support more fickle, and racial incidents between players and fans more hostile.

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Dream Shot
The Journey to a Wheelchair Basketball National Championship
Josh Birnbaum
University of Illinois Press, 2017
In 2008, the men's wheelchair basketball team at the University of Illinois set out to achieve their sport's pinnacle: a college national championship. That lofty goal represented another stage of a journey begun in 1948 when Tim Nugent established the Gizz Kids wheelchair squad. Embedded with the team, Josh Birnbaum took photos that captured the life experiences of people in the Illinois wheelchair basketball program from 2005 through the 2008 championship season. Dream Shot follows the unique lives of the players and coaches on the court and the road, and in quiet moments at home and the classroom. Along the way, Birnbaum provides the definitive story of the 2008 team and the challenges it overcame to capture one of Illinois's record fifteen men's titles. Featuring more than 100 color photographs, Dream Shot memorializes a legendary team alongside the story of the university's dedication to the progress of disability rights.

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The Encyclopedia of Duke Basketball
John Roth
Duke University Press, 2006
Duke basketball is one of the most celebrated programs in intercollegiate athletics. With fourteen Final Four appearances and three national championships for the men’s teams and four Final Four appearances and five ACC championships for the women’s teams, the Blue Devils have established a worldwide reputation for excellence and have inspired the fierce devotion of generations of fans.

The Encyclopedia of Duke Basketball is the ultimate reference source for true-blue fans, with profiles of great games, classic finishes (both wins and losses), and compelling personalities, including players, coaches, and opponents. While it is filled with a wealth of statistical information, the Encyclopedia goes well beyond the numerical record to deliver insights on people and performances and anecdotes that will surprise even the most seasoned Duke supporter.

The Encyclopedia features:
— A timeline of key events in men’s and women’s basketball history.
— Capsules of the most important men’s and women’s games in the program’s history, including the men’s buzzer-beating overtime win against Kentucky in 1992 and the women’s stunning victory over Tennessee to reach the Final Four in 1999.
— An alphabetical encyclopedia with entries on players from Alaa Abdelnaby to Bill Zimmer and on coaches, customs, opponents, venues, and records.
— Exclusive interviews in which standout players, including Danny Ferry, Mike Gminski, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Jason Williams, recount moments they’ll never forget.
— A statistical record book covering every season through 2005–06.
—130 photographs of Duke basketball history.

A source of entertainment as well as information, this volume will be a great resource for fans hoping to settle arguments, relive favorite games, or simply enjoy hours of pleasurable reading.


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Fast Break to Line Break
Poets on the Art of Basketball
Todd Davis
Michigan State University Press, 2012

If baseball is the sport of nostalgic prose, basketball’s movement, myths, and culture are truly at home in verse. In this extraordinary collection of essays, poets meditate on what basketball means to them: how it has changed their perspective on the craft of poetry; how it informs their sense of language, the body, and human connectedness; how their love of the sport made a difference in the creation of their poems and in the lives they live beyond the margins. Walt Whitman saw the origins of poetry as communal, oral myth making. The same could be said of basketball, which is the beating heart of so many neighborhoods and communities in this country and around the world. On the court and on the page, this “poetry in motion” can be a force of change and inspiration, leaving devoted fans wonderstruck.


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The Final Season
The Perseverance of Pat Summitt
Maria Cornelius
University of Tennessee Press, 2016
With 1,098 wins and eight national championships, Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt has left a remarkable legacy of perseverance, leadership, and passion for the game—but her victories on the court aren’t the only legacy she has left in her wake.

Since the beginning of her career as Lady Vol head coach at twenty-two years old, Pat Head Summitt effectively established the University of Tennessee Lady Vols as the top women’s athletics program in the nation. The winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball, Summitt overcame one obstacle after another on the road to every victory, but it is the lives she has impacted along the way that tell the story of her true legacy. Forever a role model for young women, expecting nothing but the best from her players and from those around her, her legacy has never faltered—not even during her final season as head coach, when she faced her fiercest adversary yet: the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

In The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt, Maria M. Cornelius tells the story of her final coaching season through the eyes of those who know her best, from players to support staff to Summitt’s closest friends and advisors. Beginning with the diagnosis that shook the Tennessee community in the summer of 2011 and continuing through to the final game of the 2011–12 season, The Final Season presents readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the conclusion of Summitt’s coaching career, detailing from the perspective of a sports writer how her diagnosis impacted her players and her staff as well as her fans.

With forewords by former Lady Vol Candace Parker and Swish Appeal editor Mike Robinson, The Final Season reveals how Summitt’s remarkable story of perseverance not only united a team of young women but also brought an entire sports following together, revealing an incredible support system that spanned far beyond Summitt’s Tennessee community. The coach’s determined spirit, selfless love, and sense of humor shine through the pages of Cornelius’s book, painting for readers the picture of a beloved leader and detailing the personal moments of defeat and triumph that make Summitt a true champion.

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Following the Ball
The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975
Todd Cleveland
Ohio University Press, 2017

With Following the Ball, Todd Cleveland incorporates labor, sport, diasporic, and imperial history to examine the extraordinary experiences of African football players from Portugal’s African colonies as they relocated to the metropole from 1949 until the conclusion of the colonial era in 1975. The backdrop was Portugal’s increasingly embattled Estado Novo regime, and its attendant use of the players as propaganda to communicate the supposed unity of the metropole and the colonies.

Cleveland zeroes in on the ways that players, such as the great Eusébio, creatively exploited opportunities generated by shifts in the political and occupational landscapes in the waning decades of Portugal’s empire. Drawing on interviews with the players themselves, he shows how they often assumed roles as social and cultural intermediaries and counters reductive histories that have depicted footballers as mere colonial pawns.

To reconstruct these players’ transnational histories, the narrative traces their lives from the informal soccer spaces in colonial Africa to the manicured pitches of Europe, while simultaneously focusing on their off-the-field challenges and successes. By examining this multi-continental space in a single analytical field, the book unearths structural and experiential consistencies and contrasts, and illuminates the components and processes of empire.


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Football and Colonialism
Body and Popular Culture in Urban Mozambique
Nuno Domingos
Ohio University Press, 2017

In articles for the newspaper O Brado Africano in the mid-1950s, poet and journalist José Craveirinha described the ways in which the Mozambican football players in the suburbs of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) adapted the European sport to their own expressive ends. Through gesture, footwork, and patois, they used what Craveirinha termed “malice”—or cunning—to negotiate their places in the colonial state. “These manifestations demand a vast study,” Craveirinha wrote, “which would lead to a greater knowledge of the black man, of his problems, of his clashes with European civilization, in short, to a thorough treatise of useful and instructive ethnography.”

In Football and Colonialism, Nuno Domingos accomplishes that study. Ambitious and meticulously researched, the work draws upon an array of primary sources, including newspapers, national archives, poetry and songs, and interviews with former footballers. Domingos shows how local performances and popular culture practices became sites of an embodied history of Mozambique. The work will break new ground for scholars of African history and politics, urban studies, popular culture, and gendered forms of domination and resistance.


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From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press
A Century of Iowa Girls' Basketball
Janice A. Beran
University of Iowa Press, 1993

From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press is a complete history of Iowa women’s high school, college, and recreational basketball. Beran’s exhaustive research . . . covers legendary players and coaches, changes in rules, stats on Iowa girls’ high school records, alterations in playing styles and uniforms, along with the heart-stopping excitement of the state tournament.”—Hoop Source


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The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis
From Vancouver Failure to Southern Success
Lukasz Muniowski
University of Tennessee Press, 2023
Following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and the success and celebrity of the Dream Team, the NBA became a global sensation. Around the same time, and despite ardent warnings from his parents, Arthur Griffiths purchased an NBA team that would become the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies. Who better to restore the Dream City, he thought, than the NBA?

Expansion franchises went to Vancouver and Toronto—the Canadian cities of choice as the NBA grew its international brand. But while Toronto thrived under the rising star of Vince Carter, Vancouver floundered under serial mismanagement. Six seasons wasted, the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, where they clawed their way to victories both on the court and in the hearts of the city’s eager fanbase. More than two decades later, the Memphis Grizzlies continue to win, claiming NBA records for defeating, as an eight-seed club, the one-seed San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 playoffs (only the fourth franchise to have done so) and for defeating, in 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder 152–73, the largest margin of victory in NBA history.

So why did the NBA fail in Vancouver but thrive in Memphis? This is the question Łukasz Muniowski seeks to answer in The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis: From Vancouver Failure to Southern Success. In his pursuit, he explores how the Vancouver Grizzlies came to be, the team’s evolution and eventual relocation to Memphis, the success the Grizzlies found there, and the differences between the two phases of this NBA franchise.

Rooted strongly in media coverage of the Grizzlies franchise in both Vancouver and Memphis, The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis offers a thoughtful blend of storytelling and analysis that will interest scholars and NBA enthusiasts alike.

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Hardwood Glory
A Life of John Wooden
Barbara Olenyik Morrow
Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014
The tenth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s celebrated Youth Biography Series examines the life of a man who helped define college basketball in the twentieth century and became an icon of American sports—John Wooden. He was born in the small Indiana town of Martinsville near the start of the last century. His claim to fame came first as an accomplished athlete, helping his high school basketball team compete in three state championship games, then earning All-American honors three times in his home state as a starting guard at Purdue University. After briefly teaching high school English and coaching several sports in Dayton, Kentucky, Wooden returned to Indiana, where he launched a successful career coaching basketball at South Bend Central High School and later at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) in Terre Haute. In 1948, at age thirty-seven, Wooden moved west, as did many Americans in the post-World War II era. He took over the head basketball job at the University of California at Los Angeles, a school with virtually no basketball tradition. He took his family and his coaching skills with him. He also took his midwestern values. For the next six decades he remained in Southern California, creating a basketball dynasty at UCLA and solidifying his place as one of the sporting world’s greats. When he died on June 4, 2010, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, he was four months shy of his hundredth birthday. Wooden’s success as a college coach was unprecedented and, in pure numbers, staggering. From 1964 to 1975, he led the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to ten National Collegiate Athletic Association national basketball championships, including seven in a row—a feat that may never be matched. During that string of championships, he coached the Bruins to four perfect 30–0 seasons, an NCAA men’s record that still stands. He also coached UCLA to an eighty-eight-game winning streak, yet another unrivaled men’s record. Over the course of his twenty-seven seasons at UCLA, he mentored All-Americans such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, earned the respect of legions of players, and inspired countless would-be roundballers and coaches alike. These achievements put Wooden in the company of legendary coaches throughout the field of sports. Even in that elite company, he fared especially well. In 2009 Sporting News magazine asked more than one hundred coaches and sports experts to name the greatest coach of all time in any sport. Not surprisingly, coaching giants such as the Green Bay Packers’s Vince Lombardi, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, the Boston Celtics’s Red Auerbach, and New York Yankees’s Casey Stengel ranked in the top ten; Wooden stood at number one the list. Long before that ranking, however, awards and honors flowed Wooden’s way. In 1973 he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as coach, making him the first to be honored as both a player and a coach. (He received the honor as a player in 1960.) In 1977 college basketball’s annual player-of-the-year award was named for him. The NCAA bestowed its highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt award, on Wooden in 1995. And in 2006 the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri, honored him as a member of the founding class, along with basketball inventor Doctor James Naismith. Accolades also poured in from outside the sports world. In 2003 President George W. Bush awarded Wooden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, American’s highest civilian honor. Two years later, Indiana bestowed on him its highest honor, the Sachem, an award recognizing a lifetime of excellence and virtue. In earlier decades, entities ranging from service clubs to faith-based organizations to universities rushed to salute not only his accomplishments but also his character.

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The True Story of the Best Basketball Team You've Never Heard Of
Larry Needle
Temple University Press, 2012

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Hoop Crazy
The Lives of Clair Bee and Chip Hilton
Dennis Gildea
University of Arkansas Press, 2013
Clair Bee (1896-1983) was a hugely successful basketball coach at Rider College and Long Island University with a 412 and 87 record before his career was derailed in 1951 by a point-shaving scandal. In the trial that sent his star player, Sherman White, to prison, the judge excoriated Bee for creating a morally lax culture that contributed to his players' involvement with gambling. To a certain extent, Bee agreed with the judge's scolding, concluding that coaches, himself included, had become so driven to succeed on the court that they had lost sight of the educational role sports should play. His coaching career effectively over, Bee launched an effort to reform the ills he saw in college sports, and he did so in the pages of the Chip Hilton novels for young readers. He began the series in 1948, but it was the post-scandal books that he used as teaching tools. The books mirrored some of the events of the gambling scandal and were Bee's attempt to reform the problems plaguing college sports. He used his fiction to posit a better sports world that he hoped his young readers would construct and inhabit. The Chip Hilton books were extremely popular and have become a classic series, with over two million copies sold to date. Hoop Crazy is the fascinating story of Clair Bee and his star character Chip Hilton and the ways in which their lives, real and fictional, were intertwined.

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James Naismith
The Man Who Invented Basketball
Rob Rains with Hellen Carpenter, Foreword by Roy Williams
Temple University Press, 2009
It seems unlikely that James Naismith, who grew up playing “Duck on the Rock” in the rural community of Almonte, Canada, would invent one of America’s most popular sports. But Rob Rains and Hellen Carpenter’s fascinating, in-depth biography James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball shows how this young man—who wanted to be a medical doctor, or if not that, a minister (in fact, he was both)—came to create a game that has endured for over a century.

James Naismith reveals how Naismith invented basketball in part to find an indoor activity to occupy students in the winter months. When he realized that the key to his game was that men could not run with the ball, and that throwing and jumping would eliminate the roughness of force, he was on to something. And while Naismith thought that other sports provided better exercise, he was pleased to create a game that “anyone could play.”

With unprecedented access to the Naismith archives and documents, Rains and Carpenter chronicle how Naismith developed the 13 rules of basketball, coached the game at the University of Kansas—establishing college basketball in the process—and was honored for his work at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin.

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Jesse Crosse
a novel
Michael J. Moran
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2011

Mike  Moran  first  attended  Little  Rock  Catholic  High  School  for  Boys-all four years.  On  the  basketball  team,  he  was  a  point  guard.  Then,  as "Mr. Moran,"  he taught  English  for forty years, also at Little  Rock  Catholic  High School for  Boys.  Recently  retired,  Moran  wrote  the  boys  a  novel. The tale revolves  around  a  struggling  small-town  basketball  team  with  a  nerdy manager  and  a  Walter  Mittyesque  coach.  Presented  with  too  few  players  to  scrimmage  in  practice,  the  manager  takes  it upon  himself   to  spread the word throughout the school: "We need you on the team." Three young  students  appear,  diminutive  in  stature  and  with  scrawny  chests, unimpressive  at first sight.  But  with  the  trio,  and  their  fleet  leader  Jesse Crosse,  the  team  first  experiences  shock,  then  inspiration   and  constant surprises.  The team  bonds,  leading  to stories that will  be  retold  a very  long time  in  a  small, out-of-the-way  town.  It's not a  long  novel;  like one's high school  years,  it goes  by  before  you  know  it. Only the  message  is eternal.


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Jump for Joy
Jazz, Basketball, and Black Culture in 1930s America
Gena Caponi-Tabery
University of Massachusetts Press, 2008
If the 1930s was the Swing Era, then the years from 1937 on might well be called the Jump Era. That summer Count Basie recorded "Jumping at the Woodside," and suddenly jump tunes seemed to be everywhere. Along with the bouncy beat came a new dance step—the high-flying aerials of the jitterbuggers—and the basketball games that took place in the dance halls of African America became faster, higher, and flashier. Duke Ellington and a cast of hundreds put the buoyant spirit of the era on stage with their 1941 musical revue, Jump for Joy, a title that captured the momentum and direction of the new culture of exuberance.

Several high-profile public victories accompanied this increasing optimism: the spectacular successes of African American athletes at the 1936 Olympics, the 1937 union victory of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Joe Louis's 1937 and 1938 heavyweight championship fights. For the first time in history, black Americans emerged as cultural heroes and ambassadors, and many felt a new pride in citizenship.

In this book, Gena Caponi-Tabery chronicles these triumphs and shows how they shaped American music, sports, and dance of the 1930s and beyond. But she also shows how they emboldened ordinary African Americans to push for greater recognition and civil liberties—how cultural change preceded and catalyzed political action.

Tracing the path of one symbolic gesture—the jump—across cultural and disciplinary boundaries, Caponi-Tabery provides a unique political, intellectual, and artistic analysis of the years immediately preceding World War II.

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Just for Fun
The Story of AAU Women's Basketball
Robert Ikard
University of Arkansas Press, 2005

Prior to the 1972 passage of Title IX, women’s basketball was a minor sport in the United States. It was played by companies such as Cook’s Goldblume Beer and Sunoco and for obscure colleges such as Iowa Wesleyan and Wayland Baptist as part of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). But during the two generations of the mid-twentieth century, women’s basketball improved and became more popular throughout the country. AAU All-Star teams dominated women’s international basketball until the emergence of subsidized national teams in the 1960s.

The women who played on these AAU teams helped to lay the foundation for women’s athletics today. Most of the teams came from central and southern states, and most of the players had rural origins. “Country girls” from Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas competed at an elite level unknown to their city sisters. The AAU formed several successful international teams of gifted players that gained fame abroad but that were anonymous at home. Until nearly the last quarter of the century, skilled women basketball players had only one option after high school: the AAU.

This is the history of these gifted women, their coaches, and their teams—their records, motivations, and personal stories. Extensively illustrated, Just for Fun is the first book to thoroughly explore the complex history of the Amateur Athletic Union’s women’s basketball program and to bring to light the four decades of women’s basketball all but forgotten in the current success of women’s athletics.


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Lakota Hoops
Life and Basketball on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Alan Klein
Rutgers University Press, 2020
For over 150 years the Lakota have tenaciously defended their culture and land against white miners, settlers, missionaries, and the U.S. Army, and paid the price. Their economy is in shambles and they face serious social issues, but their culture and outlook remain vibrant. Basketball has a role to play in the way that people on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation configure their hopes for a better future, and for pride in their community.

In Lakota Hoops, anthropologist Alan Klein trains his experienced eye on the ways that Lakota traditions find a seamless expression in the sport. In a variety of way such as weaving time-honored religious practices into the game or extending the warrior spirit of Crazy Horse to the players on the court, basketball has become a preferred way of finding continuity with the past. But the game is also well suited to the present and has become the largest regular gathering for all Lakota, promoting national pride as well as a venue for the community to creatively and aggressively confront white bigotry when needed.

Richly researched and filled with interviews with Pine Ridge residents, including both male and female players, Lakota Hoops offers a compelling look at the highs and lows of a community that has made basketball its own.

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Lost in the Game
A Book about Basketball
Thomas Beller
Duke University Press, 2022
For players, coaches, writers, and fans, basketball is a science and an art, a religious sacrament, a source of entertainment, and a way of interacting with the world. In Lost in the Game Thomas Beller entwines these threads with his lifetime's experience as a player and journalist, roaming NBA locker rooms and city parks as a basketball flaneur in search of the meaning of the modern game. He captures the magnificence and mastery of today’s most accomplished NBA players while paying homage to the devotion of countless congregants in the global church of pickup basketball. He shares his own stories from the courts, meditating on basketball’s role in city life and its impact on the athlete’s psyche as he moves from youth to middle age. Part journalistic account, part memoir of a slightly talented player whose main gift is being tall, Lost in the Game charts the game’s inexorable gravitational hold on those who love it.

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Making March Madness
The Early Years of the NCAA, NIT, and College Basketball Championships, 1922-1951
Chad Carlson
University of Arkansas Press, 2017

Throughout the NCAA Tournament’s history, underdogs, Cinderella stories, and upsets have captured the attention and imagination of fans. Making March Madness is the story of this premiere tournament, from its early days in Kansas City, to its move to Madison Square Garden, to its surviving a point-shaving scandal in New York and taking its games to different sites across the country.Chad Carlson’s analysis places college basketball in historical context and connects it to larger issues in sport and American society, providing fresh insights on a host of topics that readers will find interesting, illuminating, and thought provoking.


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Memphis Hoops
Race and Basketball in the Bluff City,1968–1997
Keith Brian Wood
University of Tennessee Press, 2021

Memphis Hoops tells the story of basketball in Tennessee’s southwestern-most metropolis following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Keith Brian Wood examines the city through the lens of the Memphis State University basketball team and its star player-turned-coach Larry Finch. Finch, a Memphis native and the first highly recruited black player signed by Memphis State, helped the team make the 1973 NCAA championship game in his senior year. In an era when colleges in the south began to integrate their basketball programs, the city of Memphis embraced its flagship university’s shift toward including black players. Wood interjects the forgotten narrative of LeMoyne-Owen’s (the city’s HBCU) 1975 NCAA Division III National Championship team as a critical piece to understanding this era. Finch was drafted by the Lakers following the 1973 NCAA championship but instead signed with the American Basketball Association’s Memphis Tams. After two years of playing professionally, Finch returned to the sidelines as a coach and would eventually become the head coach of the Memphis State Tigers.

Wood deftly weaves together basketball and Memphis’s fraught race relations during the post–civil rights era. While many Memphians viewed the 1973 Tigers’ championship run as representative of racial progress, Memphis as a whole continued to be deeply divided on other issues of race and civil rights. And while Finch was championed as a symbol of the healing power of basketball that helped counteract the city’s turbulence, many black players and coaches would discover that even its sports mirrored Memphis’s racial divide. Today, as another native son of Memphis, Penny Hardaway, has taken the reigns of the University of Memphis’s basketball program, Wood reflects on the question of progress in the city that saw King’s assassination little more than forty years ago.

In this important examination of sports and civil rights history, Wood summons social memory from an all-too-recent past to present the untold—and unfinished—story of basketball in the Bluff City.


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Midnight Basketball
Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy
Douglas Hartmann
University of Chicago Press, 2016
Midnight basketball may not have been invented in Chicago, but the City of Big Shoulders—home of Michael Jordan and the Bulls—is where it first came to national prominence. And it’s also where Douglas Hartmann first began to think seriously about the audacious notion that organizing young men to run around in the wee hours of the night—all trying to throw a leather ball through a metal hoop—could constitute meaningful social policy.
            Organized in the 1980s and ’90s by dozens of American cities, late-night basketball leagues were designed for social intervention, risk reduction, and crime prevention targeted at African American youth and young men. In Midnight Basketball, Hartmann traces the history of the program and the policy transformations of the period, while exploring the racial ideologies, cultural tensions, and institutional realities that shaped the entire field of sports-based social policy. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the book also brings to life the actual, on-the-ground practices of midnight basketball programs and the young men that the programs intended to serve. In the process, Midnight Basketball offers a more grounded and nuanced understanding of the intricate ways sports, race, and risk intersect and interact in urban America.

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The Mogul
Eddie Gottlieb, Philadelphia Sports Legend and Pro Basketball Pioneer
Rich Westcott
Temple University Press, 2008
Eddie Gottlieb-The Mogul -was one of the most colorful figures in Philadelphia sports history.  A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he  founded, played and coached for the legendary South Philadelphia Hebrew Association (SPHAs) basketball team, helped form the National Basketball Association, owned the Warriors franchise, and created the NBA's annual schedule of games for over a quarter-century.  In baseball, he co-owned the Philadelphia Stars in the Negro Leagues and tried unsuccessfully to buy the Philadelphia Phillies.  Locally, he was the city's leading sports booking agent for activities ranging from sandlot baseball to semipro football to professional wrestling. 

Drawing upon sixty-plus interviews and many archival sources, well-known Philadelphia sports historian Rich Westcott vividly portrays Gottlieb's role in a pivotal era in city sports, in the process offering histories of the SPHAs, Warriors, and Stars and the role of Jews and African Americans in the city's sporting history.

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Mr. All-Around
The Life of Tom Gola
David Grzybowski
Temple University Press, 2019

Tom Gola is a Philadelphia Big Five basketball icon. He led La Salle to the NIT championship in 1952 and the NCAA championship in 1954, and holds the NCAA record for most rebounds in a career. Gola also helped the Philadelphia Warriors win the NBA championship as a rookie in 1956 and was named an All-Star five times before retiring in 1966. But Gola also had many amazing achievements as a coach; his La Salle Explorer teams were a large part of the national basketball landscape. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976.

In Mr. All-Around, avid sports fan and reporter David Grzybowski provides a definitive biography of Gola. He uses exclusive interviews he conducted with Gola in 2013 and features anecdotes by many figures of Philadelphia and basketball history, including John Cheney, Fran Dunphy, and Lionel Simmons.

After the NBA, Gola transitioned to a second career as a politician, serving as Pennsylvania State Representative and Philadelphia City Controller. His dedication to public service involved joining politician Arlen Specter on a campaign that revolutionized political marketing within Philadelphia. Mr. All-Around is an affectionate testament to the life, career, and legacy of one of Philadelphia’s most beloved sports legends.


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Off the Rim
Basketball and Other Religions in a Carolina Childhood
Fred Hobson
University of Missouri Press, 2006
“Why should a particular game, played with a round ball by twenty-year-olds in short pants often hundreds of miles away, mean so much to me, since I seem to have so little to gain or lose by its outcome?” Fred Hobson thus begins Off the Rim, his narrative of college basketball and society, of growing up and not growing up. He seeks the answer to this question by delving into the particulars of his own experience.
            Growing up in a small town in the hills of North Carolina where basketball was king, he became a rabid UNC basketball fan (like many others) at the tender age of thirteen during the Tar Heels’ “magical” 32–0 national championship season in 1956–1957. He starred as a high school basketball player and lived a dream by “walking on” the highly successful 1961–1962 Carolina freshman team. That was also the year Dean Smith was elevated to head coach of the Heels. Hobson observed firsthand Coach Smith’s difficult early days before he became the winningest coach in college basketball.
            Forced to find a substitute for his beloved sport after not making the varsity his sophomore year, Hobson turned to the romance of books, both reading and writing them. Changing his major to English, he discovered the joys of William Faulkner and Richard Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, and H. L. Mencken, and made a career teaching American literature.  
            This is a book about basketball that is more than a book about basketball. It is, in the beginning, a depiction of a part of the South that departs from the usual idea of Dixie, a look into the culture, religion, and politics of the Carolina hills. It is a portrait of the people who made up the South, including the author’s parents, who both were and were not conventional southerners. Finally, in some respects, it is the story of a boyhood that never ends, relived each year during basketball season in the frantic, tortured life of a fan.
            Although Hobson’s story is largely about the Tar Heels—and about other things related to growing up in the South of the 1950s—what he says about basketball, childhood, and adulthood also holds true for those who find themselves in emotional bondage to Hoosiers or Bulldogs or Ducks, to Wolverines, Gophers, Badgers, and various other species of Upper Midwestern low-lying ground fauna, to Blue Devils or Blue Demons, to Tigers, Wildcats, Cougars, and all other breeds of cat.

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Outside the Limelight
Basketball in the Ivy League
Orton, Kathy
Rutgers University Press, 2018
“Not many people are aware of the drama of Ivy League basketball. Outside the Limelight is a wonderful tribute to one of the most undervalued conferences in college basketball. I know. I've got the tuition bills.” —Tony Kornheiser, ESPN

“Growing up, I was very impressed with Bill Bradley, Jim McMillian, and Heyward Dotson. They fueled my interest in going to an Ivy League school. I hoped we as a team could duplicate the success they had at their schools. Kathy Orton introduces college basketball fans to the Ivy League beyond the well-known names and tells the story of the joys and sorrows of a season.”  —James Brown, CBS Sports and Showtime studio host

“In my book, there is no such thing as an Ivy League player. There is such a thing as a basketball player who happens to play in the Ivy League. As Outside the Limelight reveals, when they come out of the locker room and step across the white line, they are basketball players, period.” —Pete Carril, former Princeton coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member

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Outside the Paint
When Basketball Ruled at the Chinese Playground
Kathleen S. Yep
Temple University Press, 2009

This fascinating book reveals that Chinese Americans began “shooting hoops” nearly a century before Chinese superstar Yao Ming turned pro. Drawing on interviews with players and coaches, Outside the Paint takes readers back to San Francisco in the 1930s and 1940s, when young Chinese American men and women developed a new approach to the game—with fast breaks, intricate passing and aggressive defense—that was ahead of its time.

Every chapter tells a surprising story: the Chinese Playground, the only public outdoor space in Chinatown; the Hong Wah Kues, a professional barnstorming men’s basketball team; the Mei Wahs, a championship women’s amateur team; Woo Wong, the first Chinese athlete to play in Madison Square Garden; and the extraordinarily talented Helen Wong, whom Kathleen Yep compares to Babe Didrikson.

Outside the Paint chronicles the efforts of these highly accomplished athletes who developed a unique playing style that capitalized on their physical attributes, challenged the prevailing racial hierarchy, and enabled them, for a time, to leave the confines of their segregated world. They learned to dribble, shoot, and steal.


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Palestra Pandemonium
A History Of The Big 5
Robert Lyons
Temple University Press, 2002
The most famous basketball tournament in the history of college basketball is the Big Five. And the Big Five was played in the most hallowed halls of college play: the Palestra. Now, for the first time, a complete story of this Philadelphia rivalry is revealed.

Robert Lyons offers the story of the Big Five from its very beginnings in 1955. At that time, many of the Big Five schools -- La Salle University, University of Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's University, Temple University, and Villanova University -- weren't even talking to each other, and everyone predicted the tournament would end before it began. Conducting interviews with  coaches and players -- including famed Temple coach Harry Litwack's last interview before his death -- Lyons offers the play-by-play on how the Big Five became an institution, and how it was ultimately undone by college basketball's own success.

Lavishly illustrated with photographs of players, teams, coaches, and the Palestra itself, Palestra Pandemonium is an immediate classic, offering a chronicle of the most monumental college basketball tournament. Anywhere.

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Playgrounds to the Pros
Legends of Peoria Basketball
Jeff Karzen
University of Illinois Press, 2023

Howard Nathan. A. J. Guyton. Sergio McClain. Marcus Griffin. Frank Williams. Shaun Livingston. This dazzling constellation of talent helped make Peoria a prep basketball hotbed from the 1980s to the 2000s. Jeff Karzen takes readers inside the lives of the players, coaches, and others who defined an era that produced six state titles and four Illinois Mr. Basketball winners.

Drawing on dozens of in-depth interviews, Karzen tells the stories behind the on-court triumphs while providing a panorama of the entire Peoria scene--the rivalries and relationships, the families and friendships, the hopes and hard work. Karzen also follows the players into their Division 1 and NBA careers and pays special attention to the pipeline that, by connecting Peoria to Champaign-Urbana, powered one of the most successful periods in Fighting Illini basketball history.

Intense and intimate, Playgrounds to the Pros chronicles a basketball golden age in America’s quintessential blue collar town.


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The Rise of the National Basketball Association
david G. Surdam
University of Illinois Press, 2012
Today's National Basketball Association commands millions of spectators worldwide, and its many franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But the league wasn't always so successful or glamorous: in the 1940s and 1950s, the NBA and its predecessor, the Basketball Association of America, were scrambling to attract fans. Teams frequently played in dingy gymnasiums, players traveled as best they could, and their paychecks could bounce higher than a basketball. How did the NBA evolve from an obscure organization facing financial losses to a successful fledgling sports enterprise by 1960?
Drawing on information from numerous archives, newspaper and periodical articles, and Congressional hearings, The Rise of the National Basketball Association chronicles the league's growing pains from 1946 to 1961. David George Surdam describes how a handful of ambitious ice hockey arena owners created the league as a way to increase the use of their facilities, growing the organization by fits and starts. Rigorously analyzing financial data and league records, Surdam points to the innovations that helped the NBA thrive: regular experiments with rules changes to make the game more attractive to fans, and the emergence of televised sports coverage as a way of capturing a larger audience. Notably, the NBA integrated in 1950, opening the game to players who would dominate the game by the end of the 1950sdecade: Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson. Long a game that players loved to play, basketball became a professional sport well supported by community leaders, business vendors, and an ever-growing number of fans.


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Schools for Scandal
The Dysfunctional Marriage of Division I Sports and Higher Education
Sheldon Anderson
University of Missouri Press, 2024
For well over a century, big-time college sports has functioned as a business enterprise, one that serves to undermine the mission of institutions of higher education.This book chronicles the long and tortured history of the NCAA’s attempt to maintain the myth of amateurism and the student-athlete, along with the attendant fiction that the players’ academic achievement is the top priority of Division-I athletic programs. It is an indictment of the current system, making the case that big-time college sports cannot continue its connection to universities without undermining the mission of higher education. It concludes with bold proposals to separate big-time college sports from the university, transforming them into on-campus business operations.


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The Sons of Westwood
John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball
John Matthew Smith
University of Illinois Press, 2013
For more than a decade, the UCLA dynasty defined college basketball. In twelve seasons from 1964 to 1975, John Wooden's teams won ten national titles, including seven consecutive championships. The Bruins made history by breaking numerous records, but they also rose to prominence during a turbulent age of political unrest and youthful liberation. When Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton--the most famous college basketball players of their generation--spoke out against racism, poverty, and the Vietnam War, they carved out a new role for athletes, casting their actions on and off the court in a political light.

The Sons of Westwood tells the story of the most significant college basketball program at a pivotal period in American cultural history. It weaves together a story of sports and politics in an era of social and cultural upheaval, a time when college students and college athletes joined the civil rights movement, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and rejected the dominant Cold War culture. This is the story of America's culture wars played out on the basketball court by some of college basketball's most famous players and its most memorable coach.


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The Life and Times of Basketball's Greatest Jewish Team
Authored by Doug Stark
Temple University Press, 2011

Founded in 1918, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association's basketball team, known as the SPHAS, was a top squad in the American Basketball League-capturing seven championships in thirteen seasons-until it disbanded in 1959. In The SPHAS, the first book to chronicle the history of this team and its numerous achievements, Douglas Stark uses rare and noteworthy images of players and memorabilia as well as interviews and anecdotes to recall how players like Inky Lautman, Cy Kaselman, and Shikey Gotthoffer fought racial stereotypes of weakness and inferiority while spreading the game's popularity. Team owner Eddie Gottlieb and Temple University coach Harry Litwack, among others profiled here, began their remarkable careers with the SPHAS.

Stark explores the significance of basketball to the Jewish community during the game's early years, when Jewish players dominated the sport and a distinct American Jewish identity was on the rise. At a time when basketball teams were split along ethnic lines, the SPHAS represented the Philadelphia Jewish community. The SPHAS is an inspiring and heartfelt tale of the team on and off the court.



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Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe
Taylor H. A. Bell
University of Illinois Press, 2004
In urban and rural high schools throughout Illinois, basketball is a Friday night ritual. Local games are often the biggest thing happening all week, and the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and state tournaments attract fanatical fans by the thousands.
Far from the jaded professionals, the stories in Taylor Bell's Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe are of hungry young men playing their hearts out, where high-tops and high hopes inspire "hoop dreams" from Peoria to Pinckneyville, and Champaign to Chicago. Bell, a life-long fan and authority on high school basketball in Illinois, brings together for the first time the stories of the great players, teams, and coaches from the 1940s through the 1990s. 
The book is titled for four players who reflect the unique quality of high school basketball, and whose first names are enough to trigger memories in fans who love the sport -- Sweet Charlie Brown, Dike Eddleman, Cazzie Russell, and Bobby Joe Mason. Bell offers exciting accounts of their exploits, told with a journalistic flair.
Beyond a lifetime spent covering the sport, Bell's research includes three hundred and fifty personal interviews with coaches, administrators, family members, and fans. He has attended the Elite Eight finals of every boys' state basketball tournament since 1958, and met and written about many of the most outstanding teams, coaches, and players who helped to make Illinois one of the most exciting arenas for high school basketball in the United States. Sixty photographs add depth to the accounts.      
By a fan, for the fans, Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe is the authoritative book on high school basketball in Illinois, and will elate anyone who has thrilled to the poignant highs and shattering lows of high school sports. 

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Vicarious Thrills
A Championship Season of High School Basketball
Paul E. Bates
Southern Illinois University Press, 1995

This engaging book chronicles the Carbondale Terriers’ 1993–94 season, a season in which the team progressed all the way to the state high school basketball championship game before ending the season with a one-point loss.

Although arranged chronologically, the book is much more than a team diary. Paul E. Bates, whose son was one of the team’s starting guards, brings his sensitivity and expertise as an educational psychologist to bear on team sports in general and on how they define and are defined by the players and coaches that make up the teams and by the communities in which they thrive.

Bates frames the team’s experience by sharing his own personal love of basketball, beginning with his childhood years in Decatur, Illinois, when Stephen Decatur High School was a perennial Illinois high school powerhouse. Through his exploration of the sport and his involvement and interest in it, Bates creates a book that serves both as a rousing tale of youthful achievement and as a history of high school basketball in the state of Illinois.

Throughout his account, Bates repeatedly emphasizes his belief that extraordinary accomplishment is no accident but rather the result of years of preparation, dedication, and hard work. Most of the key performers on the 1993–94 Terriers, for example, had played together on a grade school all-star team that was undefeated. Then, in junior high, this group went on to win numerous championships, and in high school their remarkable success continued, even though their accomplishments were humbled by season-ending losses.

But Vicarious Thrills leads the reader through a very personal account of both the ups and downs of championship basketball. Triumph does not occur without defeat, and it is through defeat that the team members, as well as their families and other supporters, learn many important lessons. As significant as the individual and team accomplishments are in making up this story, the 1993–94 basketball season is more importantly a beginning rather than the defining moment in the lives of these young men.

As an inspiration and motivation to young people, and as a spark to memories of childhood aspirations for older readers, this book is a pleasure to read for individuals of all ages.


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Wheelchair Warrior
Gangs, Disability, and Basketball
Melvin Juette and Ronald J. Berger
Temple University Press, 2008

Melvin Juette has said that becoming paralyzed in a gang-related shooting was “both the worst and best thing that happened” to him. The incident, he believes, surely spared the then sixteen year-old African American from prison and/or an early death. It transformed him in other ways, too. He attended college and made wheelchair basketball his passion—ultimately becoming a star athlete and playing on the U.S. National Wheelchair Basketball Team.

In Wheelchair Warrior, Juette reconstructs the defining moments of his life with the assistance of sociologist Ronald Berger. His poignant memoir is bracketed by Berger’s thoughtful introduction and conclusion, which places this narrative of race, class, masculinity and identity into proper sociological context, showing how larger social structural forces defined his experiences. While Juette’s story never gives into despair, it does challenge the idea of the “supercrip.”


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When Mexicans Could Play Ball
Basketball, Race, and Identity in San Antonio, 1928–1945
By Ignacio M. García
University of Texas Press, 2014

Winner, Al Lowman Memorial Prize, Texas State Historical Association, 2014

In 1939, a team of short, scrappy kids from a vocational school established specifically for Mexican Americans became the high school basketball champions of San Antonio, Texas. Their win, and the ensuing riot it caused, took place against a backdrop of shifting and conflicted attitudes toward Mexican Americans and American nationalism in the WWII era. “Only when the Mexicans went from perennial runners-up to champs,” García writes, “did the emotions boil over.”

The first sports book to look at Mexican American basketball specifically, When Mexicans Could Play Ball is also a revealing study of racism and cultural identity formation in Texas. Using personal interviews, newspaper articles, and game statistics to create a compelling narrative, as well as drawing on his experience as a sports writer, García takes us into the world of San Antonio’s Sidney Lanier High School basketball team, the Voks, which became a two-time state championship team under head coach William Carson “Nemo” Herrera. An alumnus of the school himself, García investigates the school administrators’ project to Americanize the students, Herrera’s skillful coaching, and the team’s rise to victory despite discrimination and violence from other teams and the world outside of the school. Ultimately, García argues, through their participation and success in basketball at Lanier, the Voks players not only learned how to be American but also taught their white counterparts to question long-held assumptions about Mexican Americans.


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When Women Rule the Court
Gender, Race, and Japanese American Basketball
Willms, Nicole
Rutgers University Press, 2017
Winner of the 2018 North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Book Award

For nearly one hundred years, basketball has been an important part of Japanese American life.  Women’s basketball holds a special place in the contemporary scene of highly organized and expansive Japanese American leagues in California, in part because these leagues have produced numerous talented female players. Using data from interviews and observations, Nicole Willms explores the interplay of social forces and community dynamics that have shaped this unique context of female athletic empowerment. As Japanese American women have excelled in mainstream basketball, they have emerged as local stars who have passed on the torch by becoming role models and building networks for others. 

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