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Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  184 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The National Basketball Association is a place where, without ever acknowledging it, white fans and black players enact and quietly explode virtually every racial issue and tension in the culture at large. In Black Planet, David Shields explores how, in a predominantly black sport, white fans--including especially himself--think about and talk about black heroes, black sca ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 7th 2000 by Three Rivers Press (first published October 19th 1999)
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Steve Kettmann
Mar 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book remains one of my all-time least favorites. Here is the review I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle when it came out:

A Basketball Diary Most Foul
Writer's examination of race and the NBA falls far short

REVIEWED BY Steve Kettmann

Sunday, December 26, 1999

BLACK PLANET Facing Race During an NBA Season By David Shields Crown; 223 pages; $23
No matter how admirable his novels and collection of stories might be, the David Shields we get to know in ``Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Sea
David Jacobs
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
David Shields keeps an intensely personal journal during the Sonics' 94 season. Shields is obsessed with the sport of basketball, the racial implications of the overwhelmingly white audience, and specifically obsessed with Gary Payton. As a Portland resident and fan in the late 90s, I can relate to the unique and absurd theater that is NW basketball, so I was drawn to this book.

Shields often cites usenet conversations as he keeps up with the souls & thoughts of the fan. The book was written
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Did Shawn Kemp read this book, and what did he think about being prioritized below the bedroom asides?
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Yes, this book is about basketball as the writer follows the 1994-1995 season of the Seattle Supersonics. But it's more about race. Race confronts professional basketball in the U.S. constantly because it is so overwhelming full of black players. Plus, without heavy equipment, you can really see how a player acts and talks on the court and off. And because it isn't as much of a scripted game as football, players can act more individually with their own style, especially in the time frame of this ...more
David Saad
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is all about the National Basketball Association. David Shields the author of the book and the main character enters the world of basketball as an media reporter. He is trying to learn what peoples opinions are about one thing. That the NBA is a dominantly black sport yet the majority of the fans are white. Shields takes big risk asking such questions and writing a book about it. Race is a very sensitive topic and if said in the wrong way could cause serious conflict. He follows the t ...more
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
David Shields' look into the 1994/95 Seattle Supersonics season is a very mixed bag that ultimately gets weighed down by its own ambitions. Shields wants us to know that racism and/or racial tension exists in sports, and that that tension permeates into society at large. The readers probably already know racial tensions exists, but just in case they don't Shields points it out front and center immediately. After that Shields gives us hundreds of examples of inter-racial interaction to further dr ...more
Jonathan Crowl
My, do I hate this book. I give it three stars because it does manage to offer some interesting information and some worthwhile insights. But to get to those, you have to mine through seemingly endless pages of blather, capped off by pages and pages of talk radio transcripts. Have you ever listened to sports radio? It's the most banal, speculative, self-fellating form of media you'll find. And this book couldn't exist without it.

I understand the concepts driving this book, and they're worthwhile
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
A peculiar, sometimes fascinating, sometimes maddening look at race in the 1990s NBA. Shields perfectly plays (is he playing?) the prototype of a white liberal suffused with white guilt, who obsessively (at times so obsessively you start to wonder if he's parodying the prototype) sees RACE RACE RACE as the livewire pulsating through every single interaction between a white person and a black person in 1995 Seattle. Reading this book was an adventure: I alternately applauded Shields' candor, squi ...more
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the strangest sports books I've ever read. Shields' pseudo-erotic obsession with Gary Payton is well-documented elsewhere, as is his need to view every interaction, comment, and incident through a racial lens, but I'm not sure that he's wrong - he might just be the guy saying what we're all thinking. Most sports books and sports fans are afraid to think critically, so I give him a lot of credit for refusing to deliver a formula tome and trying to dig deeper into the issues underlying my f ...more
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-copy
This book is the result of a journal kept by writer (and sometime journalist) David Shields during the 1994-95 NBA season. He's preoccupied with race, but not just as it pertains to professional sports: he has an almost pathological obsession with analyzing the meaning of race in *everything* - his own life, his neighborhood, interactions with friends, strangers, billboards. Is he nuts? or is he just more honest than the rest of us? Maybe a little of both.

Shields is also obsessed with Gary Payto
Final Dracula
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really, really hate the phrase "white guilt" but good lord does this book exemplify it. I wanted to read a book about racism, not listen to a white guy talk about his anxieties.

Why do white people need everything to be about themselves? I do not care how hyper-aware you are about race. I do not care how racial issues can make white people uncomfortable. I do not care about a white man's perspective with regard to race. As a white man, this book is largely useless. Does the author think people
Sep 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book delves into race in the NBA, and there is sometimes a double standard for both black and white players alike. The author follows the NBA's Seattle Supersonics for an entire season and documents racial issues in how black players treat white media and fans, and how white fans treat black players. It is surprising how many of our children's heroes act behind the scenes. The dynamic established between the two races is quite interesting and i recommend this to NBA fans all over. I persona ...more
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked this book because it reminded me of a time when Seattle had a basketball team and a (playoffs excluded) good one at that. The season described in this book is over 15 years ago, yet the players and figures in it were made familiar to me again. However, maybe it was the diary style, but I expected more discussion of race in the NBA in general and less of how it personally affected the author on a day-to-day basis. But maybe that's the point: we need to start somewhere, and that somewhere ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A highly readable account of modern basketball fandom. Shields' book covers the 1994-95 Sonics season. Sure he has a tendency to over-share, sure he reads between the race lines far too much, sure some of it is cringe-worthy, but I sometimes I like to cringe. His ruminations on the Pacific Northwest, the player-fan relationship, and athletics in general were fascinating.
Mar 15, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: read-some-of-it
Did you think I actually read this? GOT YA!
Dave accidentally put this on my Goodreads instead of his. Why do I still have it on here? I don't know how to delete books from my shelf. Also, I like that it makes me look culturally sensitive and that I am going beyond my usual limited scope of books written on a 6th grade reading level, by or about actresses.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: basketball
If you were a fan of NBA basketball in the 90s and you like overly analytical writing, you will find this to be a pretty good read. Good spots of humor. The author is very honest about how much he likes Gary Payton.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Didn't need some of the details of his personal life, but a solid read at how we look at the NBA athlete compared to ourselves.
Ryan Ananat
Sep 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
The undoubtedly worst book ever written.
May 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Only three stars because Shields neglected to mention how excellent the beat of "Livin' Legal and Large" is. Three stars because now I know it exists.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Unfocused, but not unclear. Exciting to think that even in the '90s, people had progressive ideas on race in sports.
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Weird, uncomfortable, and quite smart.
Chris Ruggeri
rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2008
Eric Walker
rated it did not like it
Jun 15, 2014
Scott Tappa
rated it did not like it
Dec 10, 2014
rated it liked it
Jan 09, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jun 03, 2010
Brian Feibus
rated it really liked it
May 10, 2017
rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2014
rated it liked it
Dec 07, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Sep 21, 2007
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David Shields is the author of fourteen books, including Reality Hunger (Knopf, 2010), which was named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications. GQ called it "the most provocative, brain-rewiring book of 2010"; the New York Times called it "a mind-bending manifesto." His previous book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), was a New York Times bes ...more
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