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A useful primer on the ever shifting playing field of sports and race.

An overview of Black athletes’ recent history of protest.

The Trump era has been an especially divisive one for Black athletes speaking out on social justice issues. NBA players now have more opportunities to use their platform to protest police killings and vocally participate in the Black Lives Matter movement, but Colin Kaepernick remains frozen out of the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters have routinely strived to shout the athletes down. (“Shut up and dribble,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham infamously chastised NBA star LeBron James.) Anderson, a business consultant and professor at Loyola Marymount University, recaps a half-century of shifts around Black athlete protests. Outspoken Black athletes weren’t hard to find before the 1980s, from Arthur Ashe to Muhammad Ali. But the arrival of superstars with hefty endorsement deals made apparel companies—and the athletes they sponsored—averse to social commentary, and some were bluntly punished for it. “Black athletes have expressed their discontent with issues such as police brutality, inequality, racism, lynching, and systematic oppression, only to be met with opposition,” writes the author. In 1996, NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was indefinitely suspended after sitting out the national anthem in protest. The mood shifted, Anderson explains, once the outrages became too big to ignore, such as Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 and virulently racist remarks caught on tape by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014. The author’s discussion of how these incidents ushered in a new era of protest, accelerated further by the Black Lives Matter movement, is workmanlike, but his closing chapter thoughtfully explores how recent trends can fuel a “sport justice movement” that addresses pro teams’ relationships with police, equitable treatment of college players, and players’ deeper engagement with their communities. Former NBA veteran Len Elmore, also a longtime sportscaster and lawyer, provides the foreword.

A useful primer on the ever shifting playing field of sports and race.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781538153246

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

The Chicago Bulls stalwart tells all—and then some.

Hall of Famer Pippen opens with a long complaint: Yes, he’s a legend, but he got short shrift in the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, The Last Dance. Given that Jordan emerges as someone not quite friend enough to qualify as a frenemy, even though teammates for many years, the maltreatment is understandable. This book, Pippen allows, is his retort to a man who “was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.” Coming from a hardscrabble little town in Arkansas and playing for a small college, Pippen enjoyed an unlikely rise to NBA stardom. He played alongside and against some of the greats, of whom he writes appreciatively (even Jordan). Readers will gain insight into the lives of characters such as Dennis Rodman, who “possessed an unbelievable basketball IQ,” and into the behind-the-scenes work that led to the Bulls dynasty, which ended only because, Pippen charges, the team’s management was so inept. Looking back on his early years, Pippen advocates paying college athletes. “Don’t give me any of that holier-than-thou student-athlete nonsense,” he writes. “These young men—and women—are athletes first, not students, and make up the labor that generates fortunes for their schools. They are, for lack of a better term, slaves.” The author also writes evenhandedly of the world outside basketball: “No matter how many championships I have won, and millions I have earned, I never forget the color of my skin and that some people in this world hate me just because of that.” Overall, the memoir is closely observed and uncommonly modest, given Pippen’s many successes, and it moves as swiftly as a playoff game.

Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982165-19-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

One of the best pitchers of his generation—and often the only Black man on his team—shares an extraordinary life in baseball.

A high school star in several sports, Sabathia was being furiously recruited by both colleges and professional teams when the death of his grandmother, whose Social Security checks supported the family, meant that he couldn't go to college even with a full scholarship. He recounts how he learned he had been drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round over the PA system at his high school. In 2001, after three seasons in the minor leagues, Sabathia became the youngest player in MLB (age 20). His career took off from there, and in 2008, he signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. With the help of Vanity Fair contributor Smith, Sabathia tells the entertaining story of his 19 seasons on and off the field. The first 14 ran in tandem with a poorly hidden alcohol problem and a propensity for destructive bar brawls. His high school sweetheart, Amber, who became his wife and the mother of his children, did her best to help him manage his repressed fury and grief about the deaths of two beloved cousins and his father, but Sabathia pursued drinking with the same "till the end" mentality as everything else. Finally, a series of disasters led to a month of rehab in 2015. Leading a sober life was necessary, but it did not tame Sabathia's trademark feistiness. He continued to fiercely rile his opponents and foment the fighting spirit in his teammates until debilitating injuries to his knees and pitching arm led to his retirement in 2019. This book represents an excellent launching point for Jay-Z’s new imprint, Roc Lit 101.

Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13375-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roc Lit 101

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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