Friday, July 3, 2009

Can I Keep My Jersey?

Okay, show of hands: Who wants to read a basketball memoir? Okay, three of you (No, I won't say which three). Now, what if I told you that, rather than being written by a star player, it was written (Not ghostwritten. Written) by a nomadic player who typically finds himself the twelfth man on a twelve-man team when he is in the NBA? Where'd the hands go? Alright. Now let's tack on the added stipulation that this player, whom we'll call Paul Shirley (Because that is his name) wrote a blog for in which he did not spout any meaningless sports cliches. A blog in which he described his reason for being on the Phoenix Suns thusly: "[All it took to get me here was] a trade by the Suns that sent away Casey (Jacobson) and two others, and the Suns’ subsequent need for a warm body to keep the bench from tipping toward the coaches." All right, at least those of you who haven't stopped reading yet seem content to finish this post, provided I keep it short. That'll have to do.

What I am discussing here is the memoir of a rather sarcastic journeyman, one who wrote openly about the experience (In the Probably Not Unrelated file, he hasn't been employed by an NBA team since this book came out). And it is rather exceptional. He takes a very conversational writing style, something that makes sense considering the material is developed from the journal he kept during his travels. The end result is essentially what you would get if you had a good friend who managed to be one of the 500 best people in the world at something, yet still could find the time to complain about it (Wait, that didn't come out right). In a field of competition replete with athletes thanking Jesus for helping them put a ball through a hoop, it is rather refreshing. Instead of sentiments such as these, this book finds the author lamenting a missed opportunity to kick Kobe Bryant in the testicles. I think you can see how one of these is more interesting to read.

So if you would like to become a little wiser on the topics of Russia ("As far as I can tell, Russia causes me to have suicidal thoughts, so the faster I can get out, the better"), minor league basketball ("The Rattlers do not usually play their games in the UNLV student rec center but, because the porn convention in town had outbid the team for the use of their usual facility, we played there that night (I'm not joking)."), basketball arena announcers ("The Grizzlies may very well have the best announcer in the NBA. He has a knack for making everyone’s name sound intimidating. I wonder what he could do for a guy that has a girl’s first name as his last name?") and injury rehab ("Until that [The healing] process begins, there is no real reason for the pain to subside. Therefore, I take lots and lots of drugs."(In case anyone is wondering, the drug in question is Gene Fackelman's personal mountain of doom, and Shirley offers a quite wonderful, yet thoroughly unprintable, description of his feelings toward it)), con your local library into buying this book. It's probably more fun than I've made it sound here, and a quick read. Which at the least makes it better than Bleak House.

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