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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Gets It
When deciding whether to buy this book or not, I went into a bookstore and opened the book at random. I opened to the page where he looks at the career of Dave DeBusschere. After reading that player evaluation, I knew that Bill Simmons understood basketball at a very deep level. Not many people understood how good DeBusschere was. He did. So I bought the book, bought 2...
Published on Jan. 9 2010 by Paul Galewitz

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars either frustratingly fantastic or fantastically frustrating
If you know Bill "do you agree?" Simmons from his columns on Page 2 or his BS Report podcasts, you pretty much know what you're getting with this book. We all know he can be long-winded (a plus on the podcasts and HUGE minus online).

This book is 715 pages long and there's nothing wrong with that if there was 715 pages of good stuff in it. There isn't but let's...
Published on Sept. 8 2010 by Brian Maitland


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Gets It, Jan. 9 2010
By 
Paul Galewitz - See all my reviews
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When deciding whether to buy this book or not, I went into a bookstore and opened the book at random. I opened to the page where he looks at the career of Dave DeBusschere. After reading that player evaluation, I knew that Bill Simmons understood basketball at a very deep level. Not many people understood how good DeBusschere was. He did. So I bought the book, bought 2 other copies for my sons, and sent a copy to a friend of mine from NY who also "understood." None of us could put the book down.
Did I agree with everything he wrote? No. Did it matter? No. This book is just a great read. Period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I've never been this sad to finish a book, Jan. 7 2014
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It was just such a pleasure to devour. As a fellow basketball addict and pop culture fiend, this was the perfect book for me. Bill did a great job.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Basketball, but Never Thought to Ask, Nov. 12 2009
By 
J. Christopher Murphy (Toronto) - See all my reviews
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Bill Simmons, AKA The Sports Guy, is obsessed with basketball. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his forward to Simmons' mammoth Book of Basketball, Simmons is one of the few people in America who can afford to follow sports so closely that he can spend three years researching and writing the history of the NBA. The rest of us - we have jobs, spouses, hobbies, and sleep schedules. Some of us want to watch sports all the time, but we either feel guilty or we get in trouble for allowing them to dominate our lives. Myself, I have all day Sunday and Monday night. That's my time (though not all the time). I can sit down in front of the TV at 1 pm on Sunday, watch 10 hours of football, eat when I remember to, and then go to bed. The rest of the week, sports are mainly off limits. For Simmons, a man who has made himself wealthy as a sportswriter and podcasting pioneer, watching sports is his job.

In The Book of Basketball, Simmons makes it a point to right basketball history's wrongs. He corrects and expands the reader's perceptions about hundreds of players who have excelled at the game. In one lengthy section, he ranks the top 98 basketball players of all time, placing them into five levels of a excellence that accounts for the player's individual statistics, his team's success, and the era in which he played. In another chapter, he reviews the league's MVP award, telling us which players deserved to win that year and which did not, even pointing out the absolute travesties. Additionally, since his message through the book is that basketball is a team game based upon secret knowledge few players attain, he examines the best single season teams of all time. Wait, there's more, not content with the game's history, he pieces together his perfect team, taking players at their peak, putting them into a time machine, and preparing the team's plays for a hypothetical basketball game versus an alien race, with the fate of the human race hanging in the balance. (I can see the movie now. Think of Bill and Ted recruiting players to challenge the aliens in Mars Attacks. Only it's not a comedy.)

Simmons' examination of the NBA history would be a little dull if not for the pop culture humor he sprinkles throughout the book, comparing movie plots to basketball scenarios (with a multitude of fantastic Boogie Nights analogies). Few people care about the NBA as much as Simmons. He is like the high school English teacher who loves Shakespeare far more than his students, but cares enough to take the time to translate the prose. Here, Simmons explains the brilliance of certain superstars, as well as the true nature and motivation of basketball's greatest villains. He makes an effective argument as to why Bill Russell is better than Wilt Chamberlain, and explains in detail what makes Michael Jordon such an unstoppable force of nature (and not just on the basketball court). He is sharing his esoteric understanding of the game with those willing to listen and he certainly has my attention.

Those who follow Simmons' podcast, The B.S. Report, will know that he put a lot of hard work into this book and that he is very proud of the result. He has been writing brilliant columns for ESPN over the past decade and this is his first book of original material. He claims that it is the best book he will ever write. I disagree. Simmons is too good to be delving into statistics and writing what is essentially a history of the NBA. When he talks about the players and teams he loves, its riveting; when he outlines the statistical achievements of players he has never seen play, I wasn't nearly as engaged. The best section of this book is his description of Paul Pierce, a career Celtic who was nearly stabbed to death in his 2nd year in the league, spent almost a decade starring on a team that had no championship hopes (even losing 18 games in a row at one point), and seemed to be heading down the wrong path mentally. Simmons' description of Pierce's resurgence, attitude adjustment, and eventual starring role on the 2008 NBA Champions is a heartfelt account of a player that The Sports Guy cheered for throughout the decade. Simmons is a Boston native, probably the Celtic's biggest fan, and the perfect person to describe Pierce because he cares so much about the player's legacy. These are the stories I want to hear. Now that he has given us a full account of the game's history, I want to hear more about his history with the game.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the dorm, Nov. 20 2009
This is a great great book -- made me an NBA fan again. Love Bill Simmons, one of the great professional smart alecks, who actually worked diligently at research for this tome, with very few errors beyond the odd editing 'whoops.' A warning to parents and grandparents -- this is sprinkled with college dorm humour -- as is all of Simmons's work -- with references to porn stars and lots of drug comments (well deserved) about the eighties and nineties in the league. But it's a wonderful read -- couldn't put it down.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read, May 13 2010
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Simmons has written a fun, passionate, highly subjective, and entertaining book on NBA players and teams. His writing is deceptively good: its natural, conversational tone makes it a highly enjoyable read. Because it is a series of mini-essays, the reader can pick it up, read for 10 minutes, and put it down, to return to it later to peruse a different essay.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, May 28 2012
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A thoroughly entertaining read for anyone that has even a middling interest in the history of the NBA. A great book to read while relaxing outside in the summer!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Man's View, March 20 2011
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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Bill Simmons, ESPN's The Sports Guy, has produced a real slam dunk of a book on the history of professional basketball in America. He is a fan who has lived and breathed basketball from an early childhood when his dad took him to watch the Celtics at the old Gardens. His encyclopedic dedication to detail, based on a theory that the sport of hoops can only be fully appreciated by an exhaustive study of individual and team on-court performances, has given a new standard of measurement for all its many aficionados. Simmons identifies a pool of popular greats in basketball over the last fifty years, which he then divides into four degrees of levels of performance as to what their long-term impacts are on the game now and into the future. Using anecdotal and statistical criteria, Simmons analyzes National Basketball as it evolved through some very colorful and challenging eras. What he discovers is a game that has some very enduring qualities that should ideally form a benchmark for future development. Intangible aspects like team play, solid coaching, and hard work seem to carry as much weight as, or more than, the glitzy stats like points per game, blocked shots, and rebounds when it comes to characterizing the sport. I especially like Simmons' understanding of the individual role of the player as it meshes with the dynamics of the game. Those like Russell, West, Johnson, Jordan, and Bird are seen as giants because they bring a special dimension of excellence to the game that serves as something worth emulating for generations to come. Simmons, while generous in his praise, does not mince words when criticizing players who were mainly in the game for their own egos. I see this book as a seminal statement as to what professional basketball should consider its gold standard of guiding principles for years to come.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars either frustratingly fantastic or fantastically frustrating, Sept. 8 2010
By 
Brian Maitland (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
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If you know Bill "do you agree?" Simmons from his columns on Page 2 or his BS Report podcasts, you pretty much know what you're getting with this book. We all know he can be long-winded (a plus on the podcasts and HUGE minus online).

This book is 715 pages long and there's nothing wrong with that if there was 715 pages of good stuff in it. There isn't but let's start with what works. The chapters comparing Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain and on NBA history are as fun to read and food for thought. The writeups on the top 100 players taken on their own are the best things I've ever read on players as they cover all sorts of quirks, trivia, off-court stuff as well as the stats. The rankings I could care less about to be honest.

Where this book fails badly is his statistical analysis, especially of teams. When he ranks teams the stats he presents are often not consistent team to team (i.e., has most teams records vs. the top teams that particular season but for some reason doesn't for the '01 Lakers). Another flaw is talking about teams and how well they dominate the playoffs when sometimes a seven-game series win against a worthy opponent is far more a sign of a great team than, say, an easy win in the Finals vs. a flukey team.

As well, when he compares records of teams and talks about the relative weakness of the NBA at certain times in its history this is valid, but he also needed to compare how the team that wins the most games ranks vs. the second- and even third-best teams. Narrow that focus a bit and I can live with the conclusions.

I can live with his Boston Celtic bias (and I don't mean Len) because, face facts, the C's have the most championships as well as the most Hall of Fame players. It comes with the territory.

The chapter on "What Ifs" is a total waste of time? I'd sooner see him do a year-by-year draft analysis (didn't he do this in one of his Page 2 columns) and one on the best trades in basketball history.

Another point is he whines about how the Basketball Hall of Fame is organized and goes through creating this pyramid ranking players by levels of greatness yet totally ignores most ABA stars. Look, if you're going to rank Arvydas Sabonis who had a less than stellar NBA career and is only in there based on his international play, you cannot leave out guys like Mel Daniels, Roger Brown, Freddie Lewis, Louie Dampier, Zelmo Beaty and Willie Wise. After all, it is the "Basketball" not "NBA" Hall of Fame.

Why does Bill take stock of how guys did in All-Star Games to prove points? All-Star Games most fans stop watching after junior high school. The game is a joke. It's an exhibition game period and for someone who goes on and on endlessly about the ABA not playing defense (guess he's never seen the '75 Kentucky Colonels vs. Indiana Pacers DVD that is floating around online), why even mention any no-D All-Star Game. You cannot form opinions on how good a player is from All-Star Game play.

Also, I hate to say this Bill but my guess is the vast majority of readers don't care that you were "at" certain games in Celtic history with your dad or about your friends' opinions on basketball (save that for the podcasts with House). Bill is a strange bird (not Larry) as he seems either needy or insecure (I'll leave that to the psychologists to figure out) as what other writer do you know of who constantly mentions his dad and friends when writing about sports? Maybe it's an only child of divorce that drives this weird way of talking about his private life in public. Guess what, Bill, that's what Facebook is for, if you're that way inclined.

Throw in the weird obsession with Boogie Nights (and porn in general), the IMDb approved list of movies he thinks someone should like (I'm talking about Shawshank Redemption mainly as give that a rest will ya? Shawshank is such a vastly overrated movie thanks to IMDb users pushing it beyond the point of no return on their "best of" list) and the whole gay tendencies (which he addresses in a footnote on p. 456 so at least he's somewhat self-aware) or this juvenile need to talk about seeing exposed female breasts (hey, dude, you can still sneak peeks at celeb breasts just stop acting like a 12-year-old who still sneaks Playboys into his room...you're freakin' 40+ now, Bill! It just makes your basketball arguments sound like they are coming from a child).

The bizarre thing is Bill has great taste in good TV ("The Wire," "Mad Men") and in bad guilty pleasure TV ("Beverly Hills, 90210," "Melrose Place," "Real World"). Then he'll go off about WWE (seriously?) or the Karate Kid (thankfully, I can't recall him mentioning that much, if at all, in this book). The cultural touchstones work for me, but his tastes vary from spot on to widely off the mark for someone who follows a sport considered "cool."

You could toss all the countless footnotes out and incorporate the good ones into the actual text, axe the chapters on "The Secret" and the weakest debate section (the Simmons' pick vs. the official MVP one) and you'd have possibly a sort of basketball version of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract in basketball form. Of course, that would require Simmons letting an editor do his job which is something he just can't seem to give his all to. The editor who worked on this probably just gave up after page 200 just happy to get this out.

I'll wait till the paperback before I actually buy a copy mainly for the player section that I love. The rest--meh! I can take it or leave it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Hoops Fans, Dec 9 2009
By 
Jeffrey D. Sharma "Jeff S" (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
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Highly insightful and very entertaining. If you are a hoops fan, you MUST read this. And be sure to check out the footnotes--they are hilarious!
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mr Simmons does not get the secret, Dec 1 2009
By 
Fred H. Redekop "buggy" (Floradale, Ontario) - See all my reviews
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As a basketball statistical project, the book was very well written and well researched. Mr. Simmons' point in the book was to reflect on the Secret. Unfortunately Mr. Simmons is not a team player and does not understand the Secret as a winning philosophy in basketball or life. He writes with a sense of meannness that is not needed in literature, and I do not believe him to be much of a team player. Unless of course, this way of writing is all part of an abrasive schtik for effect, and for his job and to sell books, then I am even more appalled for his dishonesty. I have been a lifelong Celtics fan, but I may just reconsider.

Fred Redekop
Floradale, Ontario
Canada
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The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy
The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy by Bill Simmons (Paperback - Dec 7 2010)
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