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The people behind the blogging collective FreeDarko present the entire history of pro basketball, from the Celtics of Red Auerbach to LeBron and Kobe, with a taxonomy of every fight in NBA history and a feature called The Mustache Index....

Title : FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781608190836
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History Reviews

  • Patrick Brown
    2018-08-24 23:53

    I wrote a "Staff Pick" for this on The Millions. Please read it, as I think it speaks to what I loved about the book. I won't repeat that review here, because I think it's tacky, but also because I have some more thoughts on the book, thoughts I couldn't really fit into that mini-essay.1. I am not a huge NBA fan, surprisingly enough. I am an enormous and dedicated college basketball fan (Go Cuse!), but I have never been able to translate that love into a love for the pro game. I enjoy watching the playoffs, when I get the chance, and if there's a game on and I've got nothing else to do, I'll watch a bit. But the pro game has always seemed a bit too perfect. The shooters are too good, the best players, too dominant. Every possession seems to play out the same way. The point guard brings the ball down court, they run a play to get the ball to the team's best player, and he breaks his man down off the dribble. Rebound, rinse, and repeat. It's a little dull, isn't it? In the end, every game comes down to "If my best player is better than your best player, we're going to win." Look at how LeBron James carried his weak Cleveland team to the brink of a championship. This book actually went a long way to explaining why I feel this way. The theory they put forward is that, as the players get better and better, more able to do whatever they please, the rewards of taking certain risks -- making the daring pass, running on a fast break -- are greatly reduced. If each shot is more and more makeable as each season goes by, the game becomes about minimizing mistakes in order to make sure you take as many shots as possible. This might lead to a more perfect game, but it doesn't make the game more exciting or more watchable. In fact, it basically sucks what I love about basketball -- the joy, the improvisation, the audacity -- out of the game. Not entirely, mind you, but that's how it feels. It's odd, in a way, because I enjoy the cold rationality of baseball -- if my team is better at not making outs, I will beat you. Not making outs isn't sexy, but it's the key to victory in baseball. In basketball, I just want joy. If I were to build my ideal basketball team, it would be a team that looked to run every time it got the ball. It would have a daring point guard who probably takes too many shots but who will drop your jaw once a game, and will make the big shot when it's there, and it would have at least one guy capable of flight. We'd play the kind of rangy and frustrating zone that Syracuse plays, and we'd press from time to time. Lately that sounds more like a college team to me than a pro one.2. One of my favorite parts of the book discusses the mid-to-late 1970s NBA. The league was getting "too black" for most of America, but FreeDarko is able to look at this period and see the beauty of it. There were so many great players from that era that have been nearly forgotten by history: Nate Archibald, George Gervin, Moses Malone, etc. One thing I hadn't considered was what separated players like this from the stars of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. FreeDarko claims it's multi-dimensionality. To become a champion in the post-1970s NBA, you had to be able to do a bunch of different things. You couldn't just be a scorer or a rebounder or a great defender. You had to do it all.3. Bill James has pointed out that baseball has two divergent paths or veins of superstars. There are the popular stars, like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Wilie Mays, and Ken Griffey Jr., and then there are the unpopular superstars, such as Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds. There are a lot of reasons for this -- Ty Cobb was a racist, Ted Williams was an ornery cuss, and Barry Bonds was arrogant. But as Bill James suggests, there isn't really a reason any of these players weren't popular in their day. They were cast that way by the media, to a large degree, and then played that role for the rest of their careers. Much has been made of LeBron James making the switch from popular, white-hat player to unpopular, black-hat player. While I would agree that his popularity has plummeted this year, I'm not sure it's as simple as this. Does a similar history of popular and unpopular players exist in the NBA? I don't really think that it does. Sure, Wilt Chamberlain was frequently cast as the unpopular villain in his battles with Bill Russell's good-guy Celtics, but the league's other great rivalries lack this dichotomy. Bird and Magic were both loved. Michael Jordan might have been a villain in reality, but his branding created a more popular version of himself. Perhaps the Shaq-Kobe rivalry could be counted as a popular vs. unpopular rivalry, but hasn't that faded, as Kobe Bryant's jerseys remain the bestselling in the world. Why is it that basketball lacks this history of villainy? I think it's two things: Since the 70s, so many of the best players in the NBA have been black that the game lacks the racial dynamic that baseball had for much of its history. The game is not only played by African Americans, it is loved by African Americans. Can one consider Allen Iverson a villain? Maybe to a certain part of America, but not to the public at large, or at least, not to the African American portion of it. In fact, as this book points out, he was arguably the most popular player in the league between Jordan and LeBron. The other big difference between the NBA and MLB is the dominance of the sneaker companies, particularly Nike. One of the great chapters in this book deals with the manufacturing of a personality for Penny Hardaway. Nike paired him with a Chris Rock-voiced puppet and made him a star, despite the fact that nobody knew a damn thing about him. I would argue that Nike also made Jordan into a classic hero when he easily could've become a great villain. Jordan was an arrogant, ruthless, cut-throat player with a history of gambling, and Nike turned him into a squeaky-clean superhero. Remarkable.I thoroughly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in the history of the game, but really, anyone with even a passing knowledge of basketball would enjoy it, as the writing is stellar, the illustrations gorgeous, and the depth of thought outstanding.

  • Frank
    2018-09-06 20:56

    I picked this up for two reasons: 1. the authors' website and 2. there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of basketball history. Unlike baseball, the sport has never truly embraced its past as part of its identity. I've gotten away from basketball over the years, in no small part from having moved to a state where no one cares about the sport, so it was fun to dive back in and learn a few new things. While not comprehensive, this book covers all the major milestones and trends from when the first peach baskets were hung to the present. There's a lot of good insight and fresh perspectives on misunderstood legends and forgotten players through the years. Plus, there are some really good, frame-worthy illustrations. And, yes, extra points for the section on my favorite player of all time, Drazen Petrovic. Only drawback is that the articles are a bit overwritten. Sure, I appreciate the writing, but it felt out of place for the subject matter.

  • Prashant John
    2018-09-18 18:08

    This should be taught in schools. We will all be better people if we were less ignorant about professional basketball.Dennis Rodman, keep doing what yu doing!

  • Dave
    2018-09-16 22:09

    FreeDarko delivers again with another incredible basketball book. Not intended to be a comprehensive history of professional basketball, but rather a document to a game always in motion. Some big events and teams are barely mentioned here because they've already gotten their say in other books. Instead, the FreeDarko writers spent time on what they thought matters, even if it was a player that most people haven't heard of (Maurice Stokes - who knocked his skull against the hardwood one game but kept playing, soon enough he was coma and eventually paralyzed) or a team that never quite won it all (the 2000 Sacramento Kings- can't remember the last time I thought about them). I'd like to think that I'm pretty knowledgeable about the game, sadly I'm obsessed to the point that I can be found watching Golden State Warriors games late on Friday nights, but there's just some stuff about the beginning I didn't know. Like that before the formation of the NBA there were roaming travel teams usually formed across ethnic lines like The Rens, the Buffalo Germans and The SPHAS (the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association - there's a whole book devoted to them coming out next May by Douglas Stark, look it up!) and sometimes across just gender lines, like The All American Red Heads. There's also really great, informative sidebars that just beg to be researched and accessed on Youtube and the graphics are ridiculously awesome. Not only are they visually pleasing, but they often distill a concept through statistics that actually makes in impact in a way that most graphics do not.Obviously this book is pure heroin for the basketball junkie because their viewpoints can often be different from the widely held belief about an era (it made me think again about the Spurs and Michael Jordan), but I can see this as an excellent starter for someone more interested in the game because of the pure love for the sport in everything presented.

  • Aaron
    2018-09-17 00:05

    "Not having been around for much of the material we've covered in these pages, we have had to... creatively interpret history-- a process at best curatorial; at worst revisionist. But what has remained constant-- and what has kept us honest-- was a concerted attempt to honor the players, games, and stories we got to know along the way."Sportswriting, and more recently, blogging, often come off as sub-journalistic endeavors where assertions of personality trump all other considerations, yet the good folks of FreeDarko have here collectively put forth a series of essays that successfully recount and invite discussion and further research into the events, organizations, and people who shaped the experience of pro basketball, as it continues to evolve. As the text points out, the appreciation of sports history is now more democratized than ever, bolstered by the communal re-evaluation of moments both overlooked and already celebrated on YouTube and other forums outside of the limitations of league-sanctioned broadcasts. This yields contexts with which to study the game and its symbiotic/mutually parasitic relations with its surrounding industries, beyond merely the testosterone-ignited expressions of civic pride so dominant in the immediate experience.The well-researched, articulately phrased pieces are accompanied by witty illustrations and visualizations of large datasets outlining various trends and interactions over specific eras (in particular, the node graph connecting all players who had been in 5 or more fights between 1980 and 2008 to their opponents is quite a sight to take in). And there is enough detail here that hasn't traditionally been given much attention (such as the Chinese-American Hong Wah Kues of 1939, commissioned as villains with a deft passing game on the barnstorming circuit) that I can imagine revisiting chapters in the book from time to time on a quiet afternoon. Fun, expansive, digestible work.

  • Peter Smith
    2018-08-27 19:55

    Free Darko was a NBA blog unlike no other. Sometimes bizarre, but often inspired and never unoriginal, the Free Darko guys were dedicated to reinterpreting the NBA (but never Darko Milicic) through their own distinct visions. Their 1st book was a group of essays about current players, their playing styles and their significance to the game. This book takes a different tack by going back to the very beginning of the game starting with Dr. James Naismith and explains how the NBA evolved into what it is today. I was worried when I started reading this that it would be too similar to Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball that came out last year. But where Simmons is more concerned with ranking players, Free Darko spends more time trying to explain eras. Simmons is more sports talk radio whereas Free Darko is a bunch of graduate students philosophizing at the local college bar. There are profiles of historical greats like Chamberlain, Jordan and Barkley that are similar to the ones they did in their first book, but teams and trends are more of the focus. I have to say that I was a little disappointed that it was so straightforward. Aside from comparing Wilt Chamberlain to the nuclear threat of the 50's and 60's and the introduction of the shot clock to the increase in crop yields in 18th century England, there doesn't seem to be the spark of genius that was there in their blog or 1st book. I was also surprised that they gave short shrift to the ABA as I would have thought that would have been right up their alley. But these are just expectations I had after having been a regular reader of their blog and it doesn't mean that the book isn't worth your time. I found it very informative (especially the history of the very fractured pre-NBA basketball leagues) and insightful as Free Darko always was.

  • Eric Hines
    2018-08-29 19:45

    My standard for this kind of book--a book that looks fairly intensely at stats and other aspects of the game to reveal and re-evaluate--is Bill James's Historical Baseball Abstracts.[return][return]The FreeDarko collective comes from the world of blogging rather than the world of numbers crunching and historical research. So, in comparison to our Jamesian benchmark, FreeDarko's books are less insightful and revelatory, but lighter, funnier and far better illustrated. [return][return]For the contemporary basketball fan, these would be not at all bad as gifts, but I can't imagine they'd be books to take down from the shelf and revisit.[return][return]A couple of small complaints: Coming from what I always thought was a Detroit-centered blog, FreeDarko seems surprisingly to be a bit biased toward the Western Conference. Perhaps the free-flowing style of play is more in keeping with their individualistic/stylistic manifesto with which they begin their Macropehomenal Alamanac.[return][return]Also--and here my biases are revealed--there's so little in here about the Sixers. Almost nothing about their fine teams of the 70s. Nothing about the championship team of 83. Very little of interest about the rag-tag team centered on Charles Barkley in 1989, ditto the team built around Allen Iverson in 2001.[return][return]I know there were some good stories missed there (Derek Smith, for instance), which leads me to suspect that FreeDarko generally speaking may be a bit *too* dedicated to what's on the surface--style and image. After all, we all know these things already, and there's not all that much joy in having richly illustrated books to remind us of what we already know. Or is there?

  • Tom
    2018-09-09 23:54

    This book was a very interesting look at professional basketball history from the random "cager" leagues early in the 20th Century until today. The tone is an interesting mix of reverence for the sport the authors of the Free Darko High Council love and a lighthearted look where no character is sacrosanct (except perhaps for Bill Russell). It might not be quite as excellent as FreeDarko presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today's Game, but it is a quick, fun, read. Also, you don't have to deal with the author being a horrible homer like Bill Simmons.

  • Joel
    2018-08-24 20:51

    This second book by the guys at Free Darko is much better than the first. This eccentric look at basketball history manages to hit the important points while also highlighting some lesser known stories that serve to give the reader a fresh perspective on the game. It was interesting to find out how brutal the game was in the very early years, and also to read about some players lost in the cracks of the 70s. The double-page illustrations are awesome and the charts and graphs actually convey information, unlike some of the diagrams in the first book that were a bit too playful for me. If you're a basketball fan at all and want to be immersed in basketball culture for a little while, you should check this out. I remember thinking about getting Simmons' "The Book of Basketball" during my local Borders clearance, but I figured this would be good enough. While it's certainly not as comprehensive as Simmons' tome must be, you get a good feel on the growth and evolution of basketball from this book, while only taking 1/4 the time to read about it.

  • Leslie
    2018-08-23 23:45

    I enjoyed it more than Simmons' Book of Basketball but less than Macrophenomenal (maybe because there are not as many neat infographics?). There are still many thoughtful and visually pleasing infographics and prints. The book is on the verge of being too cerebral, but that is its strength that sets it apart from the rest. Many tasty and useful factoids (Popovich has extensive intelligence training which may spill over to his coaching tactics) and bits of philosophical wisdom ("The difference between upright and stubborn: One is portable, while the other carries in it the seed of its own demise.")The Barkley chapter is genius (but I am biased). "...to those who were fond of lost causes and doomed romance, he held a deeper value than solemn victory."It will be proudly displayed on the shelf next to Macrophenomenal, and the prints of Barkley and Jordan from the FreeDarko store are waiting for framing and mounting in my living room.

  • Corey Vilhauer
    2018-08-21 19:06

    Except from What I've Been Reading: FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History:"I love great writing. I worship at the altar of Steinbeck, always searching for beautiful prose. And for that reason, I’ve always found a lot of enjoyment in FreeDarko – basketball writing with a literary slant.With a joy for the game unlike any other. With passion. With soul.The Free Darko collective’s first book (FreeDarko Presents: The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac) was sublime. But combine that with the history of America’s most beautiful game, illuminate it with Jacob “Big Baby Belafonte” Weinstein’s illustrations, and you’ve got a masterpiece."

  • Oliver Bateman
    2018-09-11 22:14

    The first book-length offering from the FreeDarko collective was brash and creative but hardly awe-inspiring. This collection of historical essays, however, constitutes a major work by both scholarly and popular standards. Bill Simmons' the Book of Basketball was jam-packed and rambling; the Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History is precise, erudite, and brilliant. If someone writes a better series of sports essays or designs a more aesthetically pleasing book, I'll, uh...well, let's just say that I don't think that's going to happen. ESPN needs to give these guys their own channel. Six stars.

  • Paul Miller
    2018-08-31 01:45

    An entertaining read, but a reminder of why it's so easy to NOT like the NBA. From the irony of a Celtic dynasty in a hugely racist town to the coke-head era to Magic/Bird to MJ to the Dynasty of Dull (Spurs) and now to "The Decision", there really is not much to feel really connected to about the history of pro basketball. Pleasantly informative, but a great reminder of why baseball history is eminently richer and more interesting to most than the NBA (though pro basketball does have the world's best athletes, IMHO).

  • Jen
    2018-09-10 01:45

    Excellent and entertaining history of Basketball. If you are mildly interested in Basketball this is definitely a great read. Lively and colorful, this book depicts the earliest days of basketball all the way through 2010. My only complaint is that I am a Laker fan and this book has pages and pages and chapters on the Celtics, Spurs, Bulls, Suns and in the entire book the Lakers get about a page and a half worth of text, most of it negative. So boo on all that, but that aside, it's really good!

  • Mattmiller
    2018-09-08 02:08

    This is a book of essays on pro basketball from the earliest years up until the present. Many of them are quite good (the one about Bill Russell, the one about Jordan's dominance, the one about the marketing of young 90s NBA stars). The illustrations and info graphics are top notch. I wish it was a little longer and went into depth on a few more players. The writers seem to only write about the players and issues they are most passionate about, which makes it a great read, if not incredibly thorough.

  • Sam Poole
    2018-08-21 20:03

    A classic. This will always be the best basketball blog ever. And years later the stories, histories and analyses in here remain true and relevant. It's typical FD- brainy, postmodern, funny, insightful. Highly recommend to anyone who wants a different perspective on the NBA. This blog changed my life.

  • Shawn
    2018-09-03 17:51

    A very unique and fresh look at basketball history. Doesn't read at all like your usual boring school textbook.It is a blend of basketball and pop-culture, with references and comparisons to music, movies, books, politics, philosophy, history, etc. With colorful graphs, statistics and side-stories in the margins that are reminiscent of the old VH1 pop-up video shows.

  • Jeremy Hornik
    2018-08-25 20:56

    I liked this one better than the Macrophenomenal Almanac, although it's not quite so loopily over-the-top. The FreeDarko lens of style-as-sport is a nice way to take in a bit of NBA history. A bit slim, but that's probably in reaction to the Simmons' brick. Three solid stars.

  • Corey
    2018-09-05 19:58

    A filtered look at the history of professional basketball, full of interesting unknown factoids (I would consider myself fairly knowledgeable on this stuff and I learned a whole lot) and graceful, reverent words.

  • Dante Willerton
    2018-09-11 23:47

    One of the best basketball history books I have read. Witty and every bit as insightful as the Free Darko blog. The ability to make the history relevant to today and seem current is the highlight of the book.

  • Kim
    2018-09-18 22:01

    A wonderfully written history of professional basketball that is both informative and visually appealing. The FreeDarko books take social issues and memory and how they relate to pro-basketball's history. If you're a basketball fan, it's a must read.

  • Micah
    2018-08-22 19:09

    I love these guys. Their overall approach is so creative and encapsulating. I'd like to see FD branch out more and do different areas of life. I'd read anything they write. FD on cooking or music or any number of other branches of entertainment would be great!

  • Josh
    2018-08-31 21:49

    Love FreeDarko's pseudo-intellectual social commentary on pro basketball history. They quality of each chapter is as great as their best blog posts back when the site was active. Hope to see more if this in the future (possibly a periodical almanac?).

  • Eric
    2018-08-23 21:53

    Gets a little too cute at times, but its stylized approach is in keeping with the spirit of the game and unearths quite a bit of insight. The Charles Barkley essay and their explanation of the 00s Spurs' muted dominance are outstanding.

  • Lynda
    2018-09-12 02:09

    Interesting and helpful. Broadened my understanding of the game.

  • Marc
    2018-09-11 01:03

    Liked this better than Simmon's book. Much more concise, good highlights from the different eras, great graphical representation of some information.

  • Brandon
    2018-09-16 00:05

    So many good stories about baseketball, made me a better person. I would recommend this book to anybody who has two eyes, a heart, and a soul!

  • Mamadou Ball
    2018-09-06 23:57

    it's a very good basketball book

  • Greg
    2018-09-20 21:02

    Fantastic infographics.

  • Matthew
    2018-09-16 21:04

    Yes to this. Emphatically yes.