We Came to Play: Writings on Basketball

John Ross, Editor, Q. R. Hand, Editor, Spain Rodriguez, Illustrator
John Ross, Editor, Q. R. Hand, Editor, Spain Rodriguez, Illustrator North Atlantic Books $16.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-55643-162-3
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With the NBA playoffs in full swing, this is a must for any basketball enthusiast or sports fan, period. We Came to Play is a collection of more than 60 stories, essays, articles and poems that straight up talk roundball. The pieces range from short journalistic articles on kids such as Stephon Marbury and Felipe Lopez, written before anyone knew who they were, to longer, thoughtful literary works by such diverse voices as John Edgar Wideman, Bill Russell, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and John Updike. The collective covers the game in all its facets, no matter how small, such as the latest flexi-glass backboard. And if ever there were a testament to the replacement of baseball by basketball as the ""nation's game,"" this book is it. In this setting an excerpt from Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries finds another home and truly comes alive. Though uneven at times and a little bit pretentious in some of its poems, We Came to Play deftly manages to look at the microcosm of basketball through the macrocosm of everyday life. Like jazz, country and rap music, there's something peculiarly gutsy and American about the game, and, boy, does that come out here. (July)
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