Jeramey's Reviews > Can I Keep My Jersey?: Eleven Teams, Six Years, Five Countries, and My So-called Career as a Professional Basketball Player

Can I Keep My Jersey? by Paul Shirley
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Oct 16, 2011

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bookshelves: sports
Read in October, 2011

Here is the skinny - if you're into basketball, and you've read a number of other basketball books, read this one. Paul Shirley is a strange character, but you gain some insight into the world of "marginal" NBA players.

I can't quite figure what to make of Shirley, even after spending 300 plus pages with his thoughts. For one, he certainly tries too hard with his writing (constantly self-deprecating and pointing it out), something that could probably be fixed with more editing. Another is that he seems to casually burn every bridge he crosses, needlessly taking cheap shots at people left and right in the book. He also insults the intelligence and physical makeup of random strangers non-stop in the book, something I found a little hard to believe got published.

What I gathered in the end was this, Paul is likely an interesting guy to have a beer at the bar with, but there is a 99% chance he's judging you negatively right there if you're not exactly like him, and a pretty good chance he'll mock you in future writings of his. Shirley is intelligent and appears to be insightful, he just seems to lack compassion at times, and could use heeding the advice of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it all" every now and then.

As far as the book itself goes, a few things come to mind. One, the absence of some characters is strange (at times it seems like he has no teammates, others they're everywhere), and ultimately it makes you wondering what he's skimming over. He randomly drops in stories about women, but they never really go anywhere, and it seems like that aspect is left out quite frequently. Three, things seem to randomly appear without much sense of the story (like how did he all the sudden own property in Kansas City?). Four, the tone definitely changes at the end when the last entries are blog posts written for ESPN, instead of pieces of his actual journal from his time abroad. More editing seems like it could have addressed these issues, and cleaned up the few typos I stumbled over.

Even though Shirley himself seems to dislike the NBA (and practically everything else not blood related to him), I left the book looking for more insight into his time in the NBA.
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