The Book of Basketball

So I just completed reading The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, which was a gift graciously given to me by my father for Christmas.  I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the understatement of the year, Simmons goes into a lot of detail on a lot of different topics (this book is 700 pages long).  He rips into certain players: Rick Barry (he calls a dick), Bean Bryant (an egomaniac), Kareem (a ninny) and Vince Carter (every disparaging adjective you can think of).  He provides his idea for how the Hall of Fame should work in his opinion (a Pantheon of the Greatest Players who encompass different levels).  In doing so he gives us his 96 top players of all time with plenty of research all while playing devil's advocate.  What if Bernard King was on those Showtime Lakers instead of James Worthy?  Wouldn't we have remembered them differently?

While I don't want to spoil the order (I definitely recommend buying this book, it's that good) I must say his meticulous detail on each player and their reasons for making it are hard to argue.  Sprinkle that in with comic anecdotes (in the form of a shitload of footnotes, which are must reads) and you have a book that every die hard hoops fan needs to read.  A few of his rankings I do disagree with: Robert Horry (at 85) and Dave Debusschere (at 45) should be lower (I actually don't think Horry should be on that list; sure he won a ton of titles as a major role player but did he have a better career than Rasheed Wallace?  Talk about a right guy in a right time/place playing with Dream's Rockets, Shaq's Flakers and Duncan's Spurs). Some guys (Kevin McHale at 35) I also feel should be a a bit higher.

One really interesting section is his review on guys who won the MVP in certain seasons.  I agree 10000000% with him on the whole "giving guys the MVP this year because it's their year" is complete crap (see Bean Bryant in 2008 and Magic in 1990; should've been Chris Paul or KG and Jordan or Barkley).  Also how the hell is their no Playoffs MVP?  There's a regular season and Finals MVP but no playoff MVP?  That is inconceivable.  At the very least Finals MVP should be dissolved into Playoff MVP which encompasses the entire second season.

All in all, this really is a terrific book that any avid basketball fan would really appreciate.  I'd say it's specifically  geared towards people with an appreciation for pop culture.  It's not easy to compare Bill Walton to Tupac or Bean Bryant to Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf, but Simmons does it seamlessly.  I found myself laughing out loud on several instances and knocked off 700 pages in about a week.  Pick it up and immerse yourself in it, you won't be disappointed.