cover image Basketball's Best Shots

Basketball's Best Shots

DK Publishing. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $30 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-8914-2

Pictures of athletes in motion are often great photographs-qua-photographs, capturing the twitch of a perfectly honed muscle or the flash of magisterial bravado over a beautiful young face-but according to this glossy compendium, they also contribute to a cultural narrative beyond their decisive moments. More than a simple document of basketball players in flight, Basketball's Best Shots seeks to tell a story about changing cultural styles and even, ambitiously, about the invention of modern sports celebrity itself. Stars such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and-of course-Michael Jordan appear, along with many other recognizable figures, to trace an evolution of glitziness and grit, as told through the years in still images of soaring men in short shorts and, more recently, soaring men in large, baggy shorts. Sometimes the book veers off the court as well, to include such piquant images as Frazier in a velour hat and elephant coat, leaning on his Rolls Royce, or Pat Riley staring at a golden trophy. Whether it delivers its argument about the power of images to create myth in the end is doubtful, but this volume covers familiar ground with panache.