During an interview with the
The question hearkens to
Three have caught my eye and, fortunately, the eyes of much of America: Simmons'
(Obligatory admission: Ballard is a colleague whose work I respect so much that I furnished an honestly rendered blurb for his book; MacMullan is a former colleague, a current friend and a non-stop source of confusion because of our names and professional beats -- "Are you sure you aren't just one person having fun with it?" a reader once asked; and Simmons' positive comments about a couple of my books upped my Amazon rating by a few thousand places. There, that's out of the way.)
The most fortunate thing about this intersection of three terrific books at one time is that they are so different. Taken collectively, they cover the NBA waterfront. MacMullan wrote a legends' story. Ballard wrote an art-of-the-game story. Simmons wrote a fan's story, albeit a fan who has been inhaling NBA games, movies, TV shows and, evidently, caffeine at the same rate that the Kardasians inhale public scrutiny.
In one respect, Ballard's
Here's his insight on
MacMullan's book is surprising in another way. Take one famous athlete reflecting upon his career and you usually get cream of wheat; take two and you get two bowls of cream of wheat. Not the case here. Some critics have reacted negatively to MacMullan's third-person voice, but in my experience, rare is the book that can't be better guided by a writer than the voice of an athlete. Anyway, their voices are there, particularly (and predictably) Magic's.
Most of the headlines for
It's Simmons' book, foreworded by Serious Writer
Some critics complain that The Sports Guy could've written
But there are veins of rich basketball material in there, ideal to be mined in bits and pieces if you don't have, say, 700 spare hours to read it in one sitting. For example, Simmons' five pages of defense for putting
Not long ago, I was with a group of similarly aged males and one asked me, as legions have asked before: "So why can't I like the NBA?" The question came as Congress was studying the long-term debilitating effects of pro football and umpires were blowing calls left and right in a baseball postseason whose stars included an admitted steroid user. When I hear that question now, I'll just pass on my five-minute spiel and suggest a few book ideas. Christmas is coming.