Keepin' It Real:: A Turbulent Season At The Crossroads With The Nba

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9780380977147: Keepin' It Real:: A Turbulent Season At The Crossroads With The Nba

The Jordan Era is all but over, and for the first time in decades the NBA finds itself deeply troubled. The powers-that-be see a new generation of gangsta players tearing up the hardwood and tearing down the most honored NBA traditions: hard work, teamwork, and respect for the game. Bloodied veterans have to struggle twice as hard to keep up with even younger, ever swifter opponents. And the headlines touting exploits on the court are slowly being boxed out by headlines condemning exploits off the court: drug busts, sex abuse charges, back room manipulations and organizations out of control. This is the NBA today, a league in search of a savior, a league at war with itself -- a league where only the strong survive. But can the NBA itself survive?

Larry Platt answers this and many other questions about the state of the NBA as he recounts from behind-the-scenes the remarkable 1997-98 season through the trials and triumphs of five high-profile players. There's Charles Barkley, bad boy turned old-guard statesman who wants one last shot at the ring. There's Chris Webber, the immensely talented superstar-to-be, who has spent four years fighting his reputation as a prima donna. Matt Maloney is the throwback; Jerry Stackhouse, the crossover star: each will go through a lifetimes's worth of changes, betrayals and morale checks for who they are and the choices they've made. Finally, there's Vernon Maxwell, the original GANGSTA hoopster, who can ball up as well as anyone, but whose career is threatened by his impulse to court danger.

An extraordinary look deep inside the game, Keepin'It Real is also a very American story of ability, achievement, and destructive temptation, a portrait of five athletes who compete mightily with all their heart and soul, not just for minutes and a multimillion-dollar payday, but for dignity and pride, and a lasting place in a brutal league that has offered them the world-at a price that just might destroy them and the league itself.

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About the Author:

Larry Platt is the editor in chief of Philadelphia magazine and the author of Keepin' It Real: A Turbulent Season at the Crossroads with the NBA. His work has appeared in GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Playboy, and Details. He lives in Philadelphia.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The travails of five high-profiled basketball players during the 199798 season are documented in this unsentimental look at the National Basketball Association's current state of affairs. Platt, a senior writer for Philadelphia magazine, focuses on five players during the season before the lockout: Charles Barkley, Matt Maloney, Vernon Maxwell, Jerry Stackhouse, and Chris Webber. The men, with different backgrounds and at different stages of their careers, are seen as trying to retain personal integrity in an image-conscious, unforgiving sport and role- model-hungry society. Issues facing the NBA players today include run-ins with the law, marijuana use (by 70 percent of players, as estimated by The New York Times), coach harassment, fan abuse, female pursuers and other hangers-on, media and promoter demands. Offering no solutions to the problems and acknowledging that sometimes the players cause their own dilemmas, Platt is mostly sympathetic to the players, railing against what he perceives to be unfair treatment, particularly by the media, owners, police, and the public. Use of the players' own raw language (of concern, perhaps, for young readers) lends credibility and gives a sense of each man's voice, especially Barkley's, but the constant shifting of players' stories often gets confusing. While the book is written chronologicallyfrom the start of the season to the playoffsthere is no tension regarding the outcome, and no new insight to team play or the game play itself. Keepin' It Real is a disquieting look at the future of basketball, mainly because the five poor-little-rich-boy stories offer minimal joy or hope. What stays with the reader is ultimately a frustrated statement by Webber: ``If this is what it takes to be a star, I don't want it. I reached my dream and made it to the NBA and if I can't have this and be happy, I don't want it.'' -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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