» » Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home

Download Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home ePub

by Harvey Araton

Download Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home ePub
  • ISBN 0743280695
  • ISBN13 978-0743280693
  • Language English
  • Author Harvey Araton
  • Publisher Free Press (November 1, 2005)
  • Pages 224
  • Formats mbr lrf txt mobi
  • Category Outdoor Sports
  • Subcategory Basketball
  • Size ePub 1580 kb
  • Size Fb2 1152 kb
  • Rating: 4.9
  • Votes: 854

The game of basketball has gone global and is now the world's fastest-growing sport. Talented players from Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa are literally crashing the borders as the level of their game now often equals that of the American pros, who no longer are sure winners in international competition and who must compete with foreign players for coveted spots on NBA rosters. Yet that refreshing world outlook stands in stark contrast to the game's troubled image here at home. The concept of team play in the NBA has declined as, in the aftermath of the Michael Jordan phenomenon, the league's marketers and television promoters have placed a premium on hyping individual stars instead of teams, and the players have come to see that big-buck contracts and endorsements come to those who selfishly demand the spotlight for themselves.Even worse, relations between players and fans are at a low ebb. Players are perceived to be overpaid, ill-behaved, and arrogant. Fans, paying hundreds of dollars for tickets, often act boorishly and tauntingly. This tension boiled over on the night of November 19, 2004, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Michigan, during a Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers game, when players brawled with fans as much as each other in what was, in fact, a racial skirmish. When the Pacer players entered the stands throwing punches, they had truly smashed an altogether different kind of border.In the aftermath of that sorry spectacle, regular-season television ratings declined for NBA games. Playoff-game ratings plummeted. Sales in NBA-licensing products sagged by a reported 30 percent. For the millions of Americans who cherish basketball, the love affair has reached a state of crisis.Few people care as deeply and know as much about basketball as Harvey Araton, the highly literate and well-traveled sports columnist for The New York Times. For many a season, Araton has observed "the ballers," as the players call themselves, at college tournaments, the NBA, and the Olympics. He has enjoyed a pressbox seat while watching the great 1980s rivalries of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the transcendent career of Michael Jordan, and the slow unraveling of the game through the 1990s until the present season, as newly arrived players and league officials misunderstood and misapplied the mixed lessons of Jordan's legacy. Calling on his many years of watching games, of locker-room interviews, of world-hopping reportage, Araton takes us to scenes of vivid play on the court and to off-camera dramas as well.In this taut, simmering book, the author points his finger at the greed and exploitation that has weakened the American game. And with uncommon journalistic courage, he opens a discussion on the volatile, undiscussed subject that lies at the heart of basketball's crisis: race. It begins, he argues, at the college level, where, too often, undereducated, inner-city talents are expected to perform for the benefit of affluent white crowds and to fill the coffers of their respective schools in what Araton calls a kind of "modern-day minstrel show." It continues at the pro level, where marketers have determined that "gangsta" imagery provides for a livelier entertainment package, never mind the effect it has on the quality of team play. And where, moreover, players themselves, often both street smart and immature, decide to live up to the thuggish stereotypes.Harvey Araton knows the players well enough to see beyond the stereotypes. He knows that for every clownish Dennis Rodman there is also an admirable David Robinson. For every Ron Artest, there is a Tim Duncan. Combining passion and knowledge, he calls on the NBA to heal itself and, with a hopeful sense of the possible, he points the way to a better future.Unflinching, timely, and authoritative, Crashing the Borders is the beginning of a much-needed conversation about sport and American culture. For those who care about both, this book will be the must-read work of the season.

Talk about Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home

Quick delivery great product ????????????
While I enjoyed this quick and easy effort from Araton, it left me with one question at the end - "What exactly was the author trying to prove in writing this?"

The title would indicate that we should expect a treatise covering several topics: the decline of basketball fundamentals in America, the fall of the U.S. as a basketball empire, the MTV-ization of the game, and a few others that would all contribute to proving what the title claims. Instead, this is a disjointed effort, part lecture, part memoir, and part history lesson.

Personally, I think that this would have worked better as a simple memoir of Araton's time spent covering the game. He could have told more of the interesting personal stories that he interjects here, especially considering how long he's been around the game. This is a book that becomes repititious, and that might have been avoided had he included more about his interactions with players, coaches, etc. He could have talked about how he believes the game has declined here, but it wouldn't have had to be the centerpiece of his book.

I believe that a great book about the decline of basketball here in the U.S. needs to be written, but I don't think this is it. This doesn't dig nearly deep enough into the underlying causes of the decline, and the format is so scattershot as to keep the reader guessing exactly what might be the point of certain parts of the book. Again, this is an enjoyable and fast read, but I was expecting something more.
Harvey Araton, long-time sports columnist for the New York Times, explores the history of "pure basketball's" decline in his latest book, CRASHING THE BORDERS. As someone who grew up watching and playing pure basketball in its American capital, Indiana, I could hardly agree more with Araton's basic contention: that basketball has lost its balletic soul, that the ultimate in spontaneous team games has become a game of power and force too often centered around individuals whose attention-seeking egos match their outsized Nike sneaker endorsements. Worse, too many players lack the fundamental skills that were formerly the hallmark of NBA play.

Araton traces the decline to the rise of Michael Jordan as a one-player product bigger than the NBA itself. Jordan became a role model for the next generation of "look at me" American players whose inarguable athleticism catapulted them into the spotlight before their psyches or their fundamental basketball skills had had time to mature and develop for a team game. In Araton's view, Jordan begat Vince Carter begat Kobe Bryant begat Alan Iverson begat Lebron James ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Yet half those begatted stars fell flat on their public relations faces, tarnishing the NBA and upping its hip-hop image while inciting racist sentiments in the stands that culminated in the Pacers/Pistons/fans rumble at The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit) on November 19, 2004.

At the same time, NBA Dream Teams had their proverbial hats handed to them in the 2002 World Championships and the 2004 Athens Olympics. Those defeats signaled deep problems in the quality of the NBA's underlying team game and accelerated the infusion into the NBA of foreign players with better basketball fundamentals than the 18-year-olds from urban America's playgrounds (hence the weakly-punned title, as in "crashing the boards"). Araton blames Nike and Adidas, the scouts and summer camps who hype 12-year-olds as the next incarnation of Michael, fawning college coaches, and David Stern for this marketing-over-substance approach. He argues that Jordan himself shoulders some of the blame for his unwillingness to act for any purpose other than his own financial self-interest.

While Araton's thesis seems largely on target, his book's execution is somewhat disappointing. It reads like an extended version of his newspaper column, full of personal stories and anecdotes but lacking in depth of analysis. We learn quite unnecessarily, for example, how the author chose family over work and missed taking an airplane flight that crashed. We visit Tbilisi, Soviet Georgia, to learn about two workmanlike but relatively undistinguished players from Soviet Georgia, Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Manuchar Markoishvili, but we never visit the inner city playgrounds of Chicago, Philadephia, L.A., or New York. We see far too much of David Stern and far too little of the great team players like Magic and Bird and Jason Kidd or the great coaches like Bob Knight, Coach K, Larry Brown, and Pete Carrill.

More important, Araton opines endlessly about the decline of the NBA game, using nothing but a few references to team scoring per game as his wholly inadequate gauge. What about shooting percentages, turnover to assist or assists to goals scored ratios, team scoring or shots taken distributions, or other player performance measures? A February 13, 2005 article by Michael Sokolove in the New York Times Sunday Magazine provided in just one statistic a better measure of the situation than Araton's entire 200-page run-on. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, the U.S. woman's team outshot their NBA men's team counterparts from the free throw line, 76% to 67%. What better evidence could there be of the decline in fundamentals than ability to hit an 15-foot shot - unguarded?

In point of fact, Sokolove's article, entitled, "Clang!" and sub-headed, "Pro basketball doesn't have a drug problem or a thug problem. It has a basketball problem," makes virtually the same case in four pages as Harvey Araton makes in 200 pages. And Sokolove at least has the courage of his convictions to argue for the elimination of both the slam dunk and the three-point shot (sadly, neither can happen as long as the NBA is more about marketing than it is about the sport). Read CRASHING THE BORDERS if you've missed the last ten years of the NBA or want to read Araton's version of "famous people I have touched." Otherwise, check out Sokolove's more insightful article from the Times archives, watch the games for yourselves, and stick with your daily sports pages. Araton's book is interesting, but it's simply too lacking in insight and analysis - and far too timid - to justify its $25 price tag.
Those who are regular readers of Harvey Araton's columns in the New York Times will recognize the quality and intelligence of the writing in this must-read dissection of the basketball world at large.