Monday, June 29, 2009

Not just phenomenal, macrophenomenal

I’ve previously mentioned my obsession with Free Darko, the basketball blog that is about so much more than basketball. It’s about style, individuality and, occasionally, the indulgence of tangents.

The primary authors of the blog also wrote a book, The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac. I finally got my hands on a copy last weekend; and it’s even better than the blog.

If you love basketball — not just the game, but the individual narratives encapsulated within — you will love The Macro-Mahna-Mahna Basketballmanac. The Free Darko ethos celebrates the individual. Consequently, there is no indepth discussion of team mechanics. Instead, it glories in the faults and successes of single players.

The book offers illustrated, well-researched and hysterical highlights about the stars of the sport. (Most of the big names are here. A few like Chauncy Billups and Steve Nash are missing. But this book is not intended to be exhaustive. Not every player deserves the depths of analysis the FD writers provide.)

My favorite chapter is on Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa. The FD crew lauds his speedy scoring. (He scores about 3 seconds faster than the average NBA player.) Then, they extrapolate upon this theme by figuring how much quicker Barbosa could have accomplished certain historical activities. For example, Magellan could have circumnavigated the world in 2.4 years if he had a crew of Barbosas. The Hundred Years’ War would have lasted 97 years instead of 116 had the French been replaced by an army of Barbosas.

This sort of silly-seriousness runs through the book. Want to know the affect of sleep deprivation on Tracey McGrady’s game? They got it. Want to know what superstar’s grandma admonished their grandson’s tattoo by telling him, “Dwyane Wade wouldn’t have done that?” They got it.

My one gripe with this book is that it is written with the present firmly in mind. (And by “present” I mean 2008, when the book was published.) Consequently, The Macro & Cheese Basketballniac already feels outdated in its assessment of some players.

For example, the public’s perception of Ron Artest is now completely different since he forced a Game 7 against the Lakers with a Rockets team that didn’t include Yao Ming or T-Mac. He went from “defensive all-star/malignant tumor” to “man who darn near slayed Goliath.”

How differently do we perceive Rasheed Wallace, Billups or even Lebron James after a single year?

The good news is the FD guys are supposedly working on a new book; and, this time, I won’t be waiting six months to ready it.

-Jason Lea,



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