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Pioneers of the Hardwood: Indiana and the Birth of Professional Basketball

Todd Gould

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ISBN 10: 0253333733 / ISBN 13: 9780253333735
Published by Indiana University Press, 1998
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Pioneers of the Hardwood: Indiana and the ...

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

About this title


As fire is to prairie or water to fish, so is basketball a part of the natural environment in Indiana. Round ball, or Hoosier Hysteria, is so much a part of the state's heritage that many people believe basketball was invented in Indiana. Naismith's game is a virtual religion in the state.

While everyone knows about the growth of basketball in high schools and in college, the story of Indiana's role in the development of professional basketball has not been told before. It is a lively, passionate story of athletes willing to play for nickels, of raucous fans, local heroes, and love of the game.

Growing out of an award-winning television documentary, Pioneers of the Hardwood tells of the origins of professional basketball in Indiana in the good old barnstorming days. Gould covers the Indianapolis Em-Roes, the dominating Fort Wayne Pistons (later the Detroit Pistons), the Indianapolis Kautskys, the Anderson Packers, the Whiting Ciesars, the Hammond/Calumet Buccaneers, and the Indianapolis Olympians, the core of which was five players from the 1949 NCAA championship team from the University of Kentucky. He sets his story within the context of the times and also discusses competing franchises, including the famous New York Celtics (the original Celtics) and the gifted Harlem Rens, the first all-black professional team, which John Wooden remembers as ""the greatest team I ever saw, period"".

The book is based on extensive research as well as revealing interviews with former players John Wooden, collegiate all-American Ralph Beard, Pat Malaska, Frank Baird, and others. For Hoosier basketball fans, owning a copy of Pioneers of the Hardwood will be almost as much fun as having courtsideseats at a playoff game.


Long before there was an NBA, there was professional basketball, and as far back as 1913 its most active incubator was Indiana. Todd Gould, who focuses his engaging chronicle on the barnstorming exploits of three Indianapolis clubs and the Fort Wayne (later Detroit) Pistons, makes it clear that what passed as professional then bears little relation to what is considered to be professional today. The salaries were small, the conditions less than ideal, and while the players, like all top athletes, burned to win, it was the quality of the show that was remembered long after the final score. Perhaps the most famous pro from this colorful era, UCLA coaching legend John Wooden, provides the kind of fascinating first-person witness that elevates good history into lively--and living--narrative.

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