Loose Balls: Easy Money, Hard Fouls, Cheap Laughs, and True Love in the NBA

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9780767905695: Loose Balls: Easy Money, Hard Fouls, Cheap Laughs, and True Love in the NBA
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The first candid report from a land of fragile egos, available women, unexpected tenderness, intramural fistfights, colossal partying, bizarre humor, inconceivable riches, and desperate competition, Loose Balls does for roundball what Ball Four did for hardball. From revelations about the meanest, softest, and smelliest players in the league, to Williams’s early days as a “young man with a lot of money and not a lot of sense,” to his strong and powerful views on race, privilege, and giving back, Loose Balls is a basketball book unlike any other.

No inspirational pieties or chest-thumping boasting here—instead, Jayson Williams gives us the real insider tales of refs, groupies, coaches, entourages, and all the superstars, bench warmers, journeymen, clowns, and other performers in the rarefied circus that is professional basketball.

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Review:

Here's what you probably know about Jayson Williams: as of 2000, he has been in the NBA for 10 years, played in one all-star game, is one of the league's best rebounders, and has a seven-year, $100 million contract. He also has a reputation as a loudmouth with an attitude problem.

Here's what you probably don't know: he comes from a mixed-race family, lost two of his sisters to AIDS, adopted their children, and became a grandfather at 28, plus he calls his mom and dad a few times every day. Here's another thing you might not know about him: he's funny.

Williams shows off his sense of humor in Loose Balls, an irreverent look at life in the NBA. His style is conversational and snappy, with short vignettes strung together into brief, loosely themed chapters. One chapter, "What's Young & Skinny & Can Do a 580-Degree-Double-Pump-Backward Jam but Doesn't Know How to Shoot a Jump Shot or Set a Back-Side Pick? Meet the Future of the NBA" is all of eight pages long. However, by the end of the book Williams has dished the dirt on dozens of his colleagues--who is the biggest flopper (Rodman, of course), who is the worst trash talker (Gary Payton), and who is the dirtiest player (not John Stockton, but his tight shorts are a problem: "Someone should tell the man the ABA days are over.").

Williams also offers observations on coaches, refs, cheerleaders, and fans across the NBA--as well as events from his childhood, early career, and well-publicized days as a wild man. Williams's candor and charm are apparent throughout the book, as is his love of basketball. Hoops fans will love this book. --M. Stein

About the Author:

Jayson Williams, formerly the All-Star center of the New Jersey Nets, was a ten-year veteran of the NBA and a graduate of St. John?s University. He is a recipient of the NAACP Trailblazer Award for community service, and sponsors the Jayson Williams Foundation for Underprivileged Youth. A native of New York City, he lives in northern New Jersey.

Steve Friedman has written for Esquire, GQ, Outside, Men's Journal , and Details, and his work has been included in The Best American Sports Writing. He lives in New York City.

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