[A crab cake and egg breakfast with a Bloody Mary and the Free Darko book at the Phillip's in the Baltimore-Washington airport -- no better way to spend time before a delayed flight.]
If you think you know professional basketball history and want to know more … if you faintly know pro ball’s past and want to be re-captured with tales instead of accounts … if you have any level of personal involvement with the NBA, the new Free Darko book, The Undisputed Guide To Pro Basketball History, is a must-read for you.
The souls of the Free Darko collective take many of stories we all know, and many we don’t, and weave them into intricate, seamless patterns that pull together pro basketball history like the Dude’s highly sought-out rug from the movie, The Big Lebowski, pulled together a room.
Want to know the last type of Cigar that Red Aurbach smoked during his career? Dutch Masters. Or how about what shoe Michael Jordan preferred before he was persuaded to sign with Nike? You’ll have read all the book’s side bar texts that quench your thirst for facts.
The Free Darko book reaches far below the surface and brings meaning to the court action like I’ve never seen before. Clean, tight depth that ranges from comparing the NBA’s statistical explosion in the early 1960s to the English agricultural revolution of the 1700s/1800s to a break down of the frequency of head hair styles/types (including facial) of the 1970s.
I particularly enjoyed the section on the parallel careers of Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and how each of those greats were reflected upon by society at the time. Or the part looking back on the marketing of early 90s NBA stars such as Penny Hardaway, Larry Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber and how their respective campaigns reflected their individual personalities and affected their influence.
Here’s an excerpt from The Guide’s view of the Boston Celtics’ dynasty of the 1960s that might be of some interest of Wizards fans:
“When owner Walter Brown brought on Auerbach in time for the 1950 draft, Red has no interest in Holy Cross standout [Bob] Cousy. The Celtics had been stockpiling regional college players in a largely futile ploy to boost attendance; Red wanted to win, not pander to fans, and thus angrily dismissed Cousy as yet another ‘local yokel.’”
“Draft more local college players for Wizards,” falls in at No. 30 on Ted Leonsis’ List of 101 Things To Do, and is noted as “under consideration.”
Pandering to fans or perhaps lucking out with someone already ingrained in the local community? I guess that depends on if your pick is in the year a Kevin Durant is coming out or in the year a Michael Beasley is coming out.
It goes without saying, but The Undisputed Guide To Pro Basketball History is not your grandpa sporadically recounting stories about the glory days off the top of his head. No, this is your cool uncle leaving out all the fluff and giving context to the past because he’s studied that shi*t out of it, but still providing you with plenty of fun, because, you know, he’s your cool uncle.
Have a 13-year old cousin or relative who is way into basketball? Get them the Free Darko book, they’ll gladly soak in this important knowledge with no restraint because the construction of the message is universal. Got a dad about to turn 70 who enjoys the lore of sports in general? Get him his book … in fact, I just ordered it for my 69-year old dad.
This dedicated post is not here to shill you into spending your dough, it’s here to convince you to travel down a path of pro basketball enlightenment, and because I highly respect and often love the work of Bethlehem Shoals, the architect, if you will, of the Free Darko consortium.
I challenge you not to enjoy this book. I challenge Ted Leonsis to get this book and blog about it.