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Book Reviews

We constantly get books dealing with basketball arriving on our doorstep, and while we don't have the time perhaps to give these works the full reviews they often deserve, we're happy to run you through some of the favorites in quick fashion.

Game 7

GAME 7 by Bill Woten
Let's face it, game sevens always have the makings of something legendary. You may be surprised to find there have been ninety-six seventh game showdowns in NBA history, and Bill Woten has done an amazing job with this book in cataloging them.

There are box scores and written game summaries for every single one, as well as a few classics which get the extra treatment of their own chapter. In addition there is a nice stats appendix that lists many details for both players and teams, so you can get a sense of which stars have truly shone in the sport's most pressure packed moments.

Reading this book is part nostalgic walk for those games that are all too permanently burned into the brain both good and bad, and part eye opening experience for those games not seen, or forgotten. Who can forget Kings-Lakers, or the infamous Portland 4th quarter meltdown, or Dominique's 47 points in a losing effort as the Hawks took the Celtics to the brink?

No need to worry if you're a throwback fan...Bill will happily take you through the NBA's first ever game seven, the 85-46 win of the Philadelphia Warriors over the St. Louis Bombers back in 1948 (featuring an unbelievable 17-97 shooting effort by the Bombers). Or how about a trip to the 1968 East Finals when Russell's Celtics edged Chamberlain's 76ers 100-96 -- Russell lost the rebounding battle 34-26 to Wilt, but Chamberlain only managed 14 points and attempted just 9 field goals...surely not the Sixers gameplan going in!

This really is a marvelous, fantastic, wonderful book. Easy to pick up for a few minutes, or to delve into for a longer stretch. It comes complete with a cover photo of that telling moment in last year's playoffs when Ginobili temporarily lost his mind and fouled Nowitzki on the layup attempt leading by three!

Highly Recommended! If you enjoy reliving NBA history, then do yourself a favor and buy this brilliant book, only available through Bill Woten's website: www.nbagame7.com

Basketball in America

Basketball in America edited by Bob Batchelor
Subtitled "From the Playgrounds to Jordan's Game and Beyond" this work is a collection of essays by various writers on all kinds of basketball-related subjects. The style and voice of the writers varies considerably, but all of the chapters are world class at times. A personal favorite would have to be "Marvin, Marvin" by David Davis that recounts the powerful star spangled banner rendition delivered by Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. Also occasional 82games contributor David Friedman has a chapter on "Chocolate Thunder and short shorts: the NBA in the 1970's" that gives a view to the pre-Magic/Bird/Michael NBA era.

[Ed: if you have never seen the Marvin Gaye NBA performance hit youtube, currently at http://youtube.com/watch?v=QRvVzaQ6i8A ...best anthem version ever!]

Some really fine writing throughout that touches on the relationship of the game to the culture and times of the day. Once again we can easily award a Highly Recommended vote. This book can be found at all the usual online places, but find more info at http://www.bobbatchelor.com/basketball

Big Game, Small World

Big Game, Small World by Alexander Wolff
Another outstanding work, now a few years old, that resonates well with "Basketball in America" -- Sports Illustrated writer (and ABA team owner) Wolff takes us around the world for various intercepts of basketball and other cultures. He went on a year long road trip across the globe, that delivers poignant chapters on basketball such as the sad scenes from Sarajevo where eventual NBA stars like Divac, Kukoc and Radja became friends and a powerful national team only to be torn apart when war in the Balkans ensues. Wolff also touches on lighter subjects in arguably the 'best of show' chapter on Bhutan where in this tiny Himalayan kingdom, the ruler is a hoops fanatic of the highest order.

Graceful and artistic, the work also overflows with Wolff's own passion for the game. Once more another Highly Recommended addition to your collection. More on the book can be found at www.biggamesmallworld.com

Film Review

Flint Star, the Movie

Flint Star, "The Motion Picture"
A documentary film by Big Thangs Production, Flint Star is a charmingly "independent" but gritty two hour exploration of the town of Flint, Michigan (a favorite Michael Moore documentary hotspot) and its ongoing "love affair" with hoops. It's hard of course watching something like this to not immediately think of the phenomenal and huge hit "Hoop Dreams" and while the storylines of Flint Star are not quite as tight and focus on a larger array of characters, there is definitely some of the same themes emerging.

Marcus G. Davenport is the brains and energy behind the venture, and has done a remarkable job filming and pulling together footage from an array of situations and scenes -- some of the obvious fun comes from the various cameos of NBA players, but often it's the older, venerable hoops people who leave the longer lasting memories of the film. For those of us living in less basketball-obsessed areas of the country (and 82games is based near Santa Cruz, California aka Surf City USA so we're in that category), Flint Star provides a wonderful perspective on how truly important basketball is ("much more than a game") for many, many people.

We definitely advocate supporting these self-funded ventures, so another hearty Recommended vote, and the movie can be purchased directly from www.flintstarmovie.com

It's apparently been a monster hit in the Flint area itself, and Big Thangs Productions is rolling right into the next project: "Life in the League" -- a documentary on NFL players from across the nation. We look forward to seeing the successor!

 - Also see: Charlie Paikert on "Crashing the Borders" and "The Rivalry"

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