â†µâ‡¥Whereas past sports-literary endeavors have attempted to paint sports as a metaphor for life or life as a metaphor for sport, we depict the National Basketball Association as a universe unlike any that one would encounter in daily existence. The NBA is a sphere in which Indiana farmboys, housing project messiahs, African tribesmen, and escapees from war-torn Eastern Bloc countries, coalesce by the nature of their superhuman physicality. â†µâ†µYou can read many of the book’s reviews for yourself, or you can just listen to me when I tell you it’s outstanding. And I don't like the NBA. I can’t even watch an entire game, yet I can thoroughly enjoy The Macrophenomenal’s essay on Leandro Barbosa, for example, a player I don’t care about, and honestly, have never had much interest in watching play the game of basketball. Yet this book makes his story, style, and speed interesting to me, the non-fan. And if it speaks to me, it will no doubt speak to the diehards, as well.
â†µBut I’ll let you form your own judgments. Here are some excerpts from two of the essays. â†µâ†µ
â†µFirst, from Tim Duncan: “Mechanical Gothic”: â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥While other players wind-sprint through â†µâ‡¥the season, Duncan marathons, going deep â†µâ‡¥into the playoffs year after year. While his â†µâ‡¥foes throw their hearts and minds into the â†µâ‡¥thick of competition, Duncan stands at a remove, â†µâ‡¥his every action rich with intent. His â†µâ‡¥brain operates with the dull precision of the â†µâ‡¥TI-83 calculator. Can Duncan feel pain? He â†µâ‡¥has faced his share of knee and foot injuries â†µâ‡¥over the years, yet they have slowed him only â†µâ‡¥as an oil leak slows a robot. Does Duncan â†µâ‡¥love? His wife, Amy, a former Wake Forest â†µâ‡¥cheerleader, conveys a forced plastic smile in â†µâ‡¥public appearances, suggesting that not even â†µâ‡¥she knows. Do the concepts of free will or â†µâ‡¥consciousness mean anything to him? If so, â†µâ‡¥he does not experience these capacities as you â†µâ‡¥and I do. Referee Joey Crawford once issued â†µâ‡¥a technical foul to Duncan simply for laughing â†µâ‡¥while on the bench; Crawford more than â†µâ‡¥anything was probably startled at Timmy’s â†µâ‡¥capacity to display human feeling. In his eternal drudgery, Duncan moves forward with a â†µâ‡¥single purpose, as though preprogrammed to â†µâ‡¥achieve the sole end of winning. Cognition, â†µâ‡¥emotion, intention -- all are merely incidental â†µâ‡¥to the goal at hand. â†µâ†µAnd from Gilbert Arenas: “The Court is a Carnival": â†µ
â†µâ‡¥In spite of his All-Star appearances and â†µâ‡¥playoff heroics, Arenas somehow remains the â†µâ‡¥eternal underdog; he’s one of the league’s most â†µâ‡¥visible young stars, yet hailed mostly as a cult â†µâ‡¥figure. While Arenas exudes humor and glee, â†µâ‡¥his triumphs are pure acid, revenge against a â†µâ‡¥basketball establishment that has continually â†µâ‡¥done him wrong. At this point, his goofball â†µâ‡¥reputation seems like an elaborate, highconcept â†µâ‡¥taunt. The world sees him as a fool, â†µâ‡¥but this fool [messes] up his opponents like he â†µâ‡¥was the baddest man on the planet. Gilbert â†µâ‡¥Arenas knows that people underestimate â†µâ‡¥him; he’ll take advantage of this on the court â†µâ‡¥and in the media, using slights as table settings â†µâ‡¥at what amounts to an endless coming out â†µâ‡¥party. There are streamers on the walls â†µâ‡¥and cake, but about half his guests end up â†µâ‡¥watching from a stretcher. â†µâ‡¥â†µVisit the book’s website for much more information, including these excerpted essays in their entirety (legally, we were limited to 500 words in this space*). And visit Amazon, or your local bookstore, to buy your copy -- or one for that special somebody on your holiday list. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥Few moments in his career captured this â†µâ‡¥quality as perfectly as Game 6 of the Wizards’ â†µâ‡¥2006 playoff tangle with the Cleveland â†µâ‡¥Cavaliers. With the Wizards down by three â†µâ‡¥points, facing elimination, and staring at â†µâ‡¥ten seconds left to rescue their season, Arenas â†µâ‡¥nonchalantly dribbled down the court â†µâ‡¥and launched a three from at least five feet â†µâ‡¥behind the line. It was not a quality shot, it â†µâ‡¥left time on the clock, and almost nothing â†µâ‡¥about it made sense. But it sent the game into â†µâ‡¥overtime -- where Arenas, normally an effortless â†µâ‡¥free throw shooter, bricked two key ones â†µâ‡¥that handed the ballgame to the Cavs. For any â†µâ‡¥other baller, this would be an agonizing medley â†µâ‡¥of grace and shame. For Gilbert Arenas, it â†µâ‡¥was just something that happened. â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µ*Excerpted words by FreeDarko, reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA â†µ â†µâ†µ
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