A collection of basketball facts that extend knowledge of the game rather than simply pepper it with curios.
Sylvester has gathered here a healthy variety of basketball information that helps set the sport in evolutionary and socio-economic contexts. It starts, of course, with James Naismith, a peach basket, and a bunch of bored boys. And certainly the inclusion of some oddballogy keeps readers entertained: “The backboard appeared in 1895 to stop spectators from reaching for the ball.” A two-page spread on hair is also worthy of extended examination, with the likes of Dr. J, James Harden, Metta World Peace, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, and, never to be forgotten, Dennis Rodman—all represented only by hair placed over negative space. There are nods to the WNBA and the importance of Title IX, but what gives the book its real oomph is introducing questions of race, sexual orientation, global reach, the wheelchair game, and economic accessibility in the form of street games. A fascinating chronology of African-American involvement in basketball is scattered throughout the pages, and there’s a clear sense of the game’s salary caps and loopholes as well as some good, sly pokes at the cheats: “Harvard’s team was suspended from games in 1999 when it was discovered that some of its players were paying other students to do their homework. Seems they didn’t learn their lesson: it happened again 12 years later!”
“Supercool” indeed. (Nonfiction. 8-14)