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My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

June 12-13, 2021: Crowd-sourced BasketballStudying

[June 6th marks the NBA’s 75th birthday, so this week I’ve AmericanStudied a handful of basketball figures and stories. Leading up to this crowd-sourced weekend post featuring bball contexts shared by fellow BasketballStudiers—add yours in comments or by email, please!]

First, a few of my favorite SportsStudiers:

Lou Moore

Sport in American History

Zach Bigalke

Nathan Kalman-Lamb

And Johanna Mellis

Responding to Wednesday’s Magic Johnson post, Douglas Sackman tweets, “I remember where I was when I heard the news (in Orange County during grad school). I appreciate your take on how Magic's commercial enterprise and vision challenged ‘Fortress LA.’”

Douglas also follows up Thursday’s GOAT post, writing, “YES! Pretty much how I look at it. We learned a lot about MJ from Last Dance and his life context, and he is a compelling figure, as is his rise to greatness. Still, I find much of the investment in him as GOAT over LeBron (or Kareem!) ties into a toxic masculine model of greatness (which avers he made his teammates better by refusing empathy and modeling indomitability), and they romanticize hating the opponents and seeing the game as battle, while LeBron affirms the humanity of his teammates, opponents, and fellow citizens.”

One of my favorite FSU English Studies alums ever, and an up-and-coming sportswriter in his own right, Kurtis Kendall, argues, “Obviously you were taking a different approach, but if we’re talking goat debate, it comes down to your preference of playstyle between Jordan and LeBron (Kareem is definitely 3rd all-time though). I put Jordan at #1 because I'd want the best scorer all time first and foremost, among other reasons. Also, what people forget is Jordan can do the 8 assists and 8 rebounds like LeBron as well (his 88-89 season), while scoring more and shooting more efficiently. He just decided he was more effective scoring than passing, which, it's hard to argue with the results.”

Both Glenna Matthews and my FSU colleague Ben Lieberman agree with my choice of Kareem. And the conversation continues at this twitter thread.

Other NBA & basketball thoughts:

Tim McCaffrey writes “When I was a teenager, every year the Lakers seemed to be playing the Celtics in the finals. People used to say that the Celtics were a racist organization, and that the Lakers weren’t (likely because of the race of their star players). I used to get so mad.”

Derek Tang shares, “Grew up watching the Celtic-Showtime Lakers rivalry in full swing, then The Bad Boys, then Jordan's prime. Drifted away from the sport in the 2000s, and still don't follow it anywhere near as closely as I used to. However, my 12-yo son is a huge Luka Doncic fan, and I cannot deny that he makes following the Mavs a whole ton of fun...until they lose in the playoffs and his lack of a strong supporting cast shines through.”

Next series starts Monday,


PS. Other bball stories, histories, or contexts you’d share (in comments or by email)?

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