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Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,345 ratings  ·  157 reviews
He’s been called a journeyman. Even Paul wouldn’t dispute that classification. Regardless, Bill Simmons, ESPN.com’s “The Sports Guy,” has said of Paul Shirley, “We could finally have an answer to the question ‘What would it be like if one of our friends was an NBA player?”

There’s no denying that Paul Shirley is the closest thing pro basketball’s got to Odysseus. In Homeric
...more
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Published April 24th 2007 by Villard (first published January 1st 2007)
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Lindy
Oct 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I learned one thing from this book it's that Paul Shirley is a jerk. Despite his feeble and wholly unbelievable attempts at self-deprecation, he comes across as a pretentious douche. He is hateful without good reason in so many of the anecdotes he presents in this book. For example, at one point Shirley rants about those who make mention of his tall stature. He then writes the following:

"Were these people not taught how to use their inner monologues? Yes, I am quite tall, but I know that. An
...more
Patrick
Aug 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
God, Paul Shirley is an asshole. That’s literally what kept running through my mind throughout this awful, slog of a book. I’d purchased the book a while back for like a dollar on the Amazon marketplace, because I vaguely remembered Bill Simmons touting Shirley in his column back in the glory days of ESPN Page 2. I even more vaguely remembered a short-lived Shirley column on ESPN.com, and while I also remembered not particularly liking it (he came across as overly impressed with his own intellig ...more
Jeramey
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
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
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Kseniya Melnik
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chockablock with moments of journalistic brilliance and hilarity. I'm not a die-hard basketball fan, but would gladly read this author's descriptions of washing the dishes or folding laundry... ...more
Kim Coleman
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enthralling read. Very enjoyable. I highly recommend. Humor at its finest.
Matthew
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. In this book Paul Shirley writes about the nomadic, insecure lifestyle of trying to secure a position on an NBA team. In pursuing that dream he plays overseas and throughout the USA in 'minor leagues'. Very interesting. And Shirley's writing is filled with humor so the book feels like a quick read.

My parents possibly had Suns tickets during a season Shirley played. I'll have to loan the book to them and see what they think.

I'm counting this as "a book about sports" for 2016 #vtReading
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Ben
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As advertised, this is definitely an unvarnished look at the contradictory experiences of a fringe NBA player. Seemingly transcribed from Shirley's blog/diary, the writing is always breezy and off-the-cuff, though that sometimes translates to dull or unconsidered. ...more
Todd Johnson
Sep 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sports Fans
Quick solid read. Feels a little disjointed towards the end when he starts including the blog postings he wrote for nba.com. Other than that it was an entertaining insight into the life of a struggling professional athlete.
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He’s been called a journeyman. Even Paul wouldn’t dispute that classification. Regardless, Bill Simmons, ESPN.com’s “The Sports Guy,” has said of Paul Shirley, “We could finally have Agen Judi an answer to the question ‘What would it be like if one of our friends was an NBA player?”

There’s no denying that Paul Shirley is the closest thing pro basketball’s got to Odysseus. In Homeric fashion, he has logged time practically everywhere in the roundball universe, from six NBA cities to pro leagues i
...more
Titus
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Can I keep my jersey?” is a biography that follows Paul Shirley through his travels from team to team, both in the NBA and other international basketball leagues. Paul managed to play for 11 different teams in 5 different countries in both the US and Europe. Paul underlines the culture he experienced in his travels, like the time he spent in Spain. Paul also shows how international teams do basketball business, like how some teams are nicer to their players than others.
Things that I appreciated
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Jayden McAfee
I chose this book because I’ve always liked sports books and they’re usually all fiction so I decided that I would try a non fiction book for once. I enjoyed reading this book and trying something kind or different and I would like to try reading more books like this in the future. I liked reading this book and I learned a lot about the NBA experience. Paul Shirley did a good job explaining his basketball career and I found my self very interested in it.

Something I found bad about this book is t
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Rudy Dyck
The book starts out fairly entertaining. The author is cynical, sarcastic and has a number of funny one liners. But by the end of the 323 pages I got a bit tired of the cynicism and negativity. His hatred for religion bothered me as well. It’s fine to express your views but I found it disrespectful. Thankfully he doesn’t dwell too much on this. I did feel some underlying racial bias and if you google how he was fired at ESPN you won’t be surprised.

Overall the book is a diary of Paul Shirley’s ba
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Bob Kawaguchi
There's a couple interesting stories but overall, it's a lot of whining. He's convinced he didn't make it in the NBA because he's white. He was making $20,0000 a month (after taxes) in Spain with a free apartment on the beach and a car but apparently that sucked. $55,000 a month also sucked.

There's an anecdote near the end about an old man who comes up and asks how tall he is and Shirley seems to be pissed off that people wonder just how tall he is. Old guy even helps him load his groceries but
...more
Elderberrywine
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Entirely brotastic. Apparently, he has disappeared after 2008, according to Wikipedia. But this was an account of the could-have-been-, almost-was, and that's what I found interesting.

Paul Shirley was a tall (6' 10") white guy from Kansas with fairly competent skills when that was who a lot of basketball teams wanted to see sitting on the bench. Sometimes he is quasi-associated with an NBA team and sometimes not. He was the "American guy" (only 2 per team!) in Greece, Spain, and Russia. And was
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Favian
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My earliest recollection of Paul Shirley is his appearance on the roster of the Phoenix Suns on ESPN NBA 2K5 as well as his blog entries on ESPN. While there are corners that feel Shirley is a jerk, I am on the other side of the spectrum. I believe that he writes with an air of authenticity, far removed from other players who err on the side of caution, wary about protecting their brands and reputations. Shirley tells his basketball journey as it is. Although there were points in life when baske ...more
JMN
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read, by the textbook basketball journeyman. Not quite good enough a player to earn a permanent roster spot in the NBA, however, other, lesser leagues welcomed (then exited) Shirley with open arms. It's the too-common story of an athlete on the fringe of usability, bouncing around league to league and plying his wares for the next paycheck. I've read many basketball books, and really did enjoy this one. As I went along, every time he changed teams, I thought "Again?", knowing it wouldn't b ...more
Randy Brown
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A super 5-star book. But, I have to tell you I have an advantage.
I coached Paul at Iowa State and know him from top to bottom. Paul is the kind of person that doesn't care about hurting some feelings; he tells it like it is. Just like he does in person. So as I say, knowing him is a huge advantage when reading his books. He's a 5-star guy and a 5-star friend.
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Luke Fuller
Read it because I enjoyed the short corner podcast. The book was fine, but I enjoyed his takes on the NBA at large on the podcast far more than his first hand account of bouncing around the NBA and other leagues.

Shannon
Sep 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
Wow, what a waste of my time. If I were to run into Paul Shirley I don't think I would have anything pleasant to say to him. He seems self centered and arrogant. And his book sucks. Me, me,me. That's what I got out of it. Oh, and that he is a judgmental homophobic jerk. ...more
Kyle
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really funny book with insight into the life of NBA players. The author has a strangely over opposition to Christianity that he drives into the ground for some reason.
Cristobal
Humorous. While you generally want to root for the underdog, I couldn’t quite get there.
Stevie
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has helped me to mentally prepare for another summer of uncertainty about my so-called teaching career.
Adam Zerner
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Really cool to get an inside look at professional basketball life. Lots and lots of crazy stories that are interesting to know about. Being a big basketball fan, I place a lot of value on learning what it's like "on the inside".
- Genuinely funny book.
- Towards the middle of the book, it starts to get pretty repetitive. The author even acknowledges this; it's because it's a journal, and the same events keep happening to him. It does pick back up at times and I don't regret continuing to read th
...more
Reed Goodbred
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When professional basketball comes to mind you think of players playing the game but do you always remember or think of all the teams they have played on? Would you think that most players would like to stay in one place for their career? Paul Shirley would be the first guy to tell you that is not easy to stay with a NBA team with his caliber of play and playing style. For people that don’t know much about basketball the NBA is the highest and most competitive leagues in the world. Many other co ...more
Derek
I recently read through “Can I Keep My Jersey?”, the memoir of a professional basketball player named Paul Shirley, who played for several teams in the NBA, minor leagues, and Europe over the course of seven years after college. Shirley chronicles his journeys through several countries, including Siberia, as he tries to make it as a professional over the course of four years. He only played in 18 actual NBA games, but he was a member of the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns in 2005 when they made a r ...more
Shivesh
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hoop junkies, tall white guys
Shelves: ballin
Paul Shirley writes of his nomadic life as a pro basketball player in the NBA pre-season and in various European clubs. Engaging writing style and enjoyable anecdotes, but this book is really just a collection of blog posts. So you might as well print out his blog from 2002 to 2007 and read them. His writing is still very good. Shirley has the world-weary tone of a journeyman who realizes that he isn't quite good enough to hang in the NBA. But he is still one of the top 500 players in the world. ...more
Scott
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why it took me so long to write a review for this, since I loved this book and I'm such a big fan of this dude's writing and all....and yet here we are.

We've all read or at least seen the usual athlete biography where the protagonist rises above every obstacle to become one of the greatest in the sport (or at least really, really good), laying waste to all competition for years and years before finally riding off into either rehab or the sunset, depending. However, I'm sure at leas
...more
Steven
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: basketball
Definitely not your older brother’s book written by a current player describing life inside the NBA. Usually those books are pretty boring because the players are loathe to criticize other members of the fraternity. Paul Shirley is not afraid to rub some people the wrong way and that makes this book a much better read.

One of the things that makes the NBA difficult for the average fan to watch is that there does not seem to be a lot of intensity during the average regular season matchup. I read
...more
Agatha Lund
Feb 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who wants to judge Paul Shirley's racist ass
Shelves: basketball, 2010
In theory, this should have been a great book: journeyman pro basketball player details a four year period of his life, bouncing between the CBA, the European leagues, and the NBA.

In practice: flat-out, Paul Shirley is a spoiled, entitled, self-centered, racist, upper-middle class white asshole. I probably would have thought he was kind of a jerk even if he hadn't, in the middle of my reading this, come out saying horrifically racist things about the tragedy in Haiti (google "Paul Shirley Haiti"
...more
Jeff
Jun 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read several books by ex or current players and they all pretty much follow the same formula of glossing over anything that might piss somebody off that might sign a check for them someday. I love the fact that these books are almost exclusively written by a ghost rider Come on, the guy can bearly form a coherent sentence when asked "What do you think of the teams chances this year" and we are expected to believe that when he starts writing he suddenly speaks and thinks in the exact manne ...more
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A former college and professional basketball player, Paul turned the stories of his travels and travails into a humor memoir called CAN I KEEP MY JERSEY?

He followed that with STORIES I TELL ON DATES, which also became a renowned podcast of the same name.

Paul lives in Los Angeles, where he runs a co-writing space called Writers Blok and a productivity consultancy called The Process.

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