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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Book of Basketball

Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, is a phenomenon. I am not even sure I want to explain who he is at this point, I feel like you either know or you wouldn't care. Simply put he is a humorous columnist who from the perspective of a fan analyzes sports throwing in pop-cultural references for good measures. I used to religiously read his columns, especially the ones focusing on basketball, yet have semi-soured on him over the last year. His humor is a bit too repetitive, too simple and too American (fecal, the amount of girls one (should have) slept with in college) at times for me to thoroughly enjoy reading him as much as I used to do.

Yet, when he published his Book of Basketball I was of course content when a friend of mine handed me his second copy (danke). After having fought my way through the 700 pages of the book I have to admit that I've had my fill of Mr Simmons for a while. Politely put: his writing doesn't lend itself to a book format.

He is a columnist who at his best offers up a number of jokes, most of which (hopefully) work, and who succeeds to bring across his opinion in that manner. He really is an op-ed writer in that sense, one exclusively focusing on sports (and pop culture). Reading the Book of Basketball then is like going through 700 pages of columns. It takes a long time, one inserts quite a few breaks and one still becomes tired of it.

Additionally, Simmons is a big fan of lists - if I were a bit more intellectual, I'm sure I could come up with some kind of a joke along the lines of a an anarchy-dominated world being attempted to subdue to the order of a ranking, I will have to pass though - which makes for a quick, argument-provoking read normally. It becomes tedious when it involves the 96 best (NBA-)basketball players ever. Or the 20 best (NBA-)teams ever. Or (even worse) the creation of random cross-generational all star teams labeled according the players' respective periods (e.g. pre-championship Jordan, pre- and post-baseball Jordan).

I had a hard time even finishing this book and one glance at my reading list on this blog should let you know what kind of an exception that is. Simmons is not a bad writer per se and I will continue to devour his columns in order to distract me from whatever I am supposed to be doing at the same time. It's just that his style is really not suited for a book format especially one as massive as this one.

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