This intensely personal account of a long season in professional basketball goes well beyond the limits of the jock genre. Johnson, who covered the 1976-77 SuperSonics for the Seattle Post-lntelligencer, focuses on the club but adds a good bit of interesting detail about larger and smaller worlds. Like many journalists on a sport beat, Johnson got too close to his subject and paid a psychological price in conflicting loyalties. If not an actual rooter, he identified with the team and not infrequently held back stories he probably should have submitted to his supportive editor. A fair portion of his narrative is devoted to offbeat asides on reportorial responsibility, retaining access to wary sources, and self-censorship. This departure may not be to the taste of all fans, but many will be fascinated by how their daily doses of instant replay are dished up. Besides, there are liberal helpings of material on such household names as Bill Walton, Slick Watts, John Havlicek, Julius Erring, and especially Bill Russell, the Sonics' enigmatic coach who was dismissed after the close of the disappointing 1976-77 season. Whatever he may have omitted while newspapering, Johnson tells all here. Owing to the intense pressures of competition as well as the close-quarters dreariness of long road trips, he finds in the sport distorted reflections of worlds beyond SRO arenas and lonely late-night air terminals. And he's alert to the ramifications of white control of a game that mostly blacks play. At the end, Johnson decides he understands enough of what's happenin' to quit the long-sought basketball assignment he held for only two years and his paper as well. This hail and farewell rates him shelf space near Roger Kahn's all-season The Boys of Summer.