Duquette brings every shot, dribble, pass and steal of the Philadelphia 76ers’ glorious 2000-2001 basketball season to life—including the formative years leading up to the championship game—while presenting them through the eyes of a young boy.
Duquette had few hobbies when he graduated sixth-grade in 1998, but he was primarily drawn to basketball by hearing about phenom Michael Jordan. It was deep into Jordan’s career, and many realized that he’d soon be leaving the game. Duquette tuned in and was immediately smitten. When Jordan retired, Duquette turned his attention to his hometown team. The 76ers were awakening after years of dormancy, which made them ripe for Duquette’s enthusiasm. Duquette writes this book as if he were that boy again, though with considerable polish to the naïveté. He uses plenty of lingo—“rubbed off screens,” “finished in the paint”—but with a fluency that allows the untutored to understand the action as he leads readers through the years leading to the finals. They were exciting years, and Duquette displays that excitement as only a young teenager can experience it: the electricity, the optimism, the lust for statistics and background information and comparisons. Throughout, the spotlight is on Allen Iverson, the awesome 6-foot shooting guard—quick as an asp, dazzlingly acrobatic; however, Duquette is smart to balance him with plenty of time spared for his teammates. As the 76ers move toward their finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Duquette weaves in his own life and family, adding considerable warmth to the book—how his father gradually took to the game; what his mother thought of Iverson (“I guess they finally realized how much of a troublemaker he is”); the school nights when he wasn’t supposed to be watching television and had to sneak from room to room, TV to TV, to steal glimpses of the game. The writing can be wordy, but it can also coax out the poetry of basketball (with its “rainbow jumpers”), and it has a knack for capturing the thrill of the whole game, not just the last two minutes.
Even those with only a smattering of basketball interest will feel Duquette’s boundless joy for the game.