TO THE HOOP by Ira Berkow


The Seasons of a Basketball Life
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 Using as a backdrop his lifelong devotion to playing basketball, Berkow, a respected New York Times sportswriter, shares his perspectives on life, death, sickness, health, and, of course, the quest for the perfect drive to the hoop. A schoolboy hoops standout while growing up in the Chicago area, Berkow realized that his talent for the game could never match his love for it and ended up by doing the next best thing: working as a sports journalist. Now 56 years old, Berkow still manages to hold his own in pickup games with players of all ages and levels of experience on the courts near his Manhattan home. These games, most often played against strangers or casual roundball acquaintances, allow him, he has discovered, to connect with basketball and with others in a way that covering contests for the sports pages could not. While playing basketball provided Berkow with a much-desired link to others and to his younger self, a knee injury sustained while playing, and the death from leukemia of his younger brother, Steven, forced him to confront, or at least rationalize, his own mortality. Describing the loss of his brother, Berkow movingly articulates his sorrow and frustration about ``how much more my brother and I could have shared--and would have shared, if he had survived this.'' When describing his relationship to the game (and the fear of losing his abilities before he loses his will,) however, Berkow shows a considerably less tender side: He absorbs and dishes out bumps and loosened teeth, and occasionally resorts to talking trash, as in his battle of wits and words with the former New York governor, Mario Cuomo, with whom a proposed one-on-one match never materialized. Touching, inspiring, funny, and never self-indulgent, this is a sporting memoir that will connect with readers on many levels. ($35,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-465-08495-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997