Now, onto other things, how have I never heard of this book? There was a twenty-year anniversary retrospective on Grantland posted yesterday on The Last Shot, a book that follows Coney Island’s Lincoln High basketball for a season. Granted, I’ve not read any other of these “embedded reporter spends a season with a team” books, and I’ve not particularly wanted to.* This one, though, caught my attention for some reason.
*A short list from the Grantland piece: The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam, A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein, and Friday Night Lights by HG Bissinger. Of course, one of those books is about the Hoosiers, so I won’t ever be touching that book. Though the ESPN movie let everybody know Bobby Knight was sick and tired of losing to Purdue. For the curious, during the season documented in the book, Indiana beat Purdue by one in overtime in Bloomington, and Purdue beat Indiana pretty handily in West Lafayette. Indiana would go on to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament that year to Cleveland State. For completeness’ sake, Purdue also lost in the first round that year, in overtime, to LSU.
I think the reason it caught my imagination is that I could totally write that book. I already have experience as being “part of the team but not really” spending high school as a basketball manager. I could (and maybe should) write a book about the teams going through my time connected with Covington Trojan basketball teams. I’m sure it would be interesting to interview people about it now, especially the final four team my freshman year. I really have half a mind to go ahead and do it. If I could get a publisher’s advance to do this book, I totally would.
Yes, The Last Shot sounds terribly interesting, and it happened to catch Stephon Marbury before anybody really knew he would turn out to be a star.* And, yes, Lincoln High is still producing players today, such as the Pacers’ own Lance Stephenson. Which is interesting and worthy, don’t get me wrong. But relatable? I don’t know. Yes and no, I would suspect. You know what would be absolutely relatable to almost all of America, though? A small-town high school basketball team. More along the lines of Friday Night Lights, but with basketball in Indiana instead of football in Texas. To show how the entire community gathers around these teams and these schools, and hopefully to show what it’s like both inside and outside the bubble of the locker room.
*The retrospective does explain in detail how all of his brothers were supremely talented, but all washed out one way or another.
So, if you’re keeping track at home, I now have three non-fiction books I really need to write. My book about the growth of Indianapolis and how it’s marriage to sport both came about and cemented itself, a retrospective of the basketball teams I was a part of (if not actively on the court), and an embedded season with a small town Indiana basketball team, which also has a good chance of being Covington, because connections. Now all I need is a publisher to front an advance and maybe a decent journalism job to support me between books. No big deal, right?