Tall tales and short shorts Dr. J, Pistol Pete, and the birth of the modern NBA

Adam Criblez

Book - 2017

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Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield [2017]
Main Author
Adam Criblez (author)
Physical Description
xii, 299 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 261-288) and index.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Choice Review

In this easily readable book, Criblez (history, Southeast Missouri State Univ.) examines US professional basketball during the 1970s. Organized chronologically, each chapter represents professional basketball in one year of the decade; interspersed are three "Time-Out" sections that focus on a particular person or topic--the strongest of these focuses on the American Basketball Association and its eventual merger with the National Basketball Association (NBA). Criblez argues that the 1970s, although considered the "dark days" of the NBA, were transformative due to the parity in the league, the rising salaries as players gained free agency, and the prevalence of drugs and violence; this created a setting of the stage for the modern NBA. Though generally well supported, the historical context could be stronger; repeatedly the information offered is only a sentence or two. The author often hints at interesting historical information but does not always develop the connections, with the exception of his discussion pertaining to racial relations. Chapters do tend to become repetitive as each chapter year covers games, scores, championships, league decisions, etc., ending with statistics that a fan would find more interesting than would an academic. Summing Up: Recommended. With the caveats above. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. --Amanda Curtis, Lake Erie College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this light-hearted, informative overview of pro basketball in the 1970s, Criblez, professor of history at Southeast Missouri State Univ., focuses on the showmanship of Pistol Pete Maravich and the ABA-NBA merger, which brought flashy talent such as Julius Erving and George Gervin to the pro scene. Criblez explains how sagging TV ratings and the increased use of cocaine endangered the league. There's a reason why future NBA commissioner David Stern, who oversaw the NBA's golden era of the 1980s and '90s, called the late '70s the league's "dark days." But Criblez finds plenty of sunshine. He unearths surprising, humanizing facts that have been lost in the NBA's now-slick facade. The struggling Indiana Pacers held a telethon in 1977 to stay solvent; the NBA held a televised dunk contest in 1976 and revived the idea in 1984. Some readers will crave a little more insight, rather than this yearbook-style format, but the abundance of bon mots will satiate basketball fans of all ages. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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