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on February 13, 2016
My boyfriend loves it!
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on December 5, 2015
I love Bill Simmons. This book is as informative as it is funny. If you're a basketball junkie, this book is a must
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on March 14, 2015
Even though Simmons is the biggest homer ever, he knows his basketball. Can't wait for part 2, great book Simmons
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on October 11, 2014
One of the best book for basketball fans, yes you need to be open minded to accept all the jokes but this book is as smooth as butter in a fried pan!! Highly recommended
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on August 31, 2014
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on August 5, 2014
Since I first read this book years ago, it has become my personal reference for basically all things basketball. This doesn't mean I blindly agree with everything Bill Simmons says about the NBA or teams or even players, but you can clearly see that the man knows his stuff. And, more importantly, he LOVES the NBA and the sport of basketball.

Anyway, the book is split into chapters. First he goes around looking for the "Secret" of basketball, and that leads him, eventually, to a encounter with Isiah Thomas near a topless pool of a hotel. Then he goe quickly through the history of the league (and the ABA), throws some "what-ifs" in there, entertains us with the things he'd like to see change in the League. Then comes the big part, the pyramid of the 96 best players ever (which has changed since the book was released half a decade ago. You will not agree with everything, but its basis is pretty damn solid. He then talks about MVPs, greatest teams ever and the "Wine Cellar Team". And I know I'm missing a lot.

As you can tell, this book is freaking loaded. And that's not even all of it. You'll enjoy hundreds (I'm not kidding) of footnotes regarding everything from Teen Wolf, the biggest dicks in NBA lockers rooms, the Mokeski award for the best white american player, the Popeye Jones All-Stars for the ugliest players ever, many many jabs at Abdul-Jabbar, endless pop culture references and dozens of other small things such as these to make this book of the most enjoyable and fun reads around.

Read it, you certainly won't regret it.
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on January 7, 2014
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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on May 28, 2012
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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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 8, 2010
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'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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