“The Rise of the National Basketball Association” chronicles the story of the NBA’s evolution from an economic perspective. But even though this book“The Rise of the National Basketball Association” chronicles the story of the NBA’s evolution from an economic perspective. But even though this book is grounded in academic principles, it’s an engaging read for anyone interested in the history of professional sports.
It’s amazing to reflect on how far professional basketball has come in sixty-six years (the Basetball Association of America, which morphed into the NBA, was founded in 1946). Baseball, football and hockey have all been on the scene for decades longer. Well into the 1950s, the NBA was still anchored in cities like Ft. Wayne, Syracuse and Rochester, fine communities, but not ones that come to mind when one thinks of the term “major league.” That the NBA of the mid-fifties even existed was a testimony to the tenacity and vision of a handful of men—plus a degree of luck.
As David G. Surham makes clear in these pages, things could have easily gone in a different direction. Had the NBA adopted a revenue-sharing plan, for example, it might have kept the weakest franchises alive—a development that would have been counter to the league’s long-term interests.
By the late 1950s, the arrival of a new generation of African-American stars, heralded by Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor; the move of the league into more larger markets and growing exposure on national television meant the days of struggle were over. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were still a quarter of a century in the future, but it was clear that the NBA was here to stay. ...more
Until Mike Tyson came along, he was the youngest man ever to win boxing's World's Heavyweight Championship. He was the first fighter ever to win the hUntil Mike Tyson came along, he was the youngest man ever to win boxing's World's Heavyweight Championship. He was the first fighter ever to win the heavyweight crown twice. Yet Floyd Patterson was overshadowed both in his own times and in the years since his retirement and death by a host of more flamboyant figures in the sport, with Muhammad Ali towering above them all. Author W.K. Stratton does an admirable job of stripping away the hype an helping us to understand the circumstances that shaped Patterson's life and times.
Patterson was born into poverty in New York City and he seemed destined for a short, violent and anonymous life until boxing provided a route to success, fame and fortune. An Olympic gold medal was quickly followed by a meteoric professional career that saw him quickly develop into an enigma in the eyes of the media and fans. Was he a glass-jawed fighter who couldn't take a punch, or the possessor of a fearsome left hook who sometimes absorbed (and delivered) brutal punishments? What about the stories of him leaving town in the middle of the night, in disguise, after humiliating losses? Did he really kiss a defeated opponent in the ring? The contradictions that seemed to rule Patterson's life in the ring also played out in the larger world as well. Was he a courageous warrior for civil rights who traveled into the deep south of the early 1960s with little or no regard for his own safety? Or was he, in the words of Ali, an "Uncle Tom?"
Stratton's admiration for Patterson is clear, but he does not shy away from addressing the less heroic aspects of the seventy-one years he spent on this earth. The result is a vivid, rounded portrait of a complex man....more
Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of the "what if" genre of historical fiction. Suppose the Nazis had won World War II? Or John F. KennRecent years have seen a surge in the popularity of the "what if" genre of historical fiction. Suppose the Nazis had won World War II? Or John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated? How would the world be different? In this collection, Bill Gutman applies the what-if question to the world of professional sports.
The scenarios are intriguing. Imagine a New York City where the baseball Giants and Dodgers never left. Imagine a young Cassius Clay failing to take the heavyweight boxing championship from Sonny Liston. Imagine Vince Lombardi leaving the Green Bay Packers to become head coach of the New York Giants. Imagine a healthy Willis Reed leading the New York Knicks to a whole string of NBA titles in the 1970s. And of course, as the title suggests, imagine a world with no Curse of the Bambino--a world where the Boston Red Sox never traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Gutman explores these scenarios (and several more) in a series of chapters that feature solid research and lively writing. Recommended for any sports fan....more