Basketball (And Other Things)

I recently finished reading Shea Serrano’s book, Basketball (And Other Things).

The author’s own abstract is a pretty helpful summary: “This book is made up of thirty-three chapters. Each chapter is a different basketball question that needs to be answered. Some of them are obviously crucial (Example: What’s the Most Important NBA Championship?) and some of them are secretly crucial (Example: Was Kobe Bryant a Dork?). But all of them are approached in ways that (I hope you think) are smart and fun and nuanced. There are illustrations throughout the book and there are some charts in it, too. Also, you should know ahead of time that some of the pieces go a bit sideways at times, like the chapter that ends up just being the script of an action movie, or the other chapter that’s actually just a bunch of lists and nothing else. Basketball is fun.”

It’s an irreverent book. Seranno uses lots of foul language, demonstrates some disrespectful views of sexuality, and talks some trash toward others. As a pastor, I feel like I have to mention these “Un-Christian” elements. But I also recognize that the language, sexuality, and trash-talking are largely a product of his subject material; a great deal of basketball culture is street culture. But if you love basketball (especially NBA basketball) — as I do — it’s hard not to love this book.

I like Serrano’s sense of humor. There were moments when I laughed out loud, as I read his snarky comments. I respect his take on the sport of basketball and its history. I appreciate the fact that he ranks Cleveland’s 2016 NBA Championship in his Top Three Championships of All Time. I don’t expect this book will be winning any literary prizes any time soon, nor do I feel like there’s some deep meaning to be gleaned from the book. Still, there’s something to be said for the fact that reading this book was genuinely recreational for me.

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