Hardcourt Stories from 75 years of the National Basketball Association

Fred Bowen

Book - 2022

"The story of the National Basketball Association from its origins through the major events and players who made basketball what it is today"--

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Informational works
Illustrated works
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books [2022]
First edition
Physical Description
89 pages, 10 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Ages 8-12.
Grades 4-6.
A Junior Library Guild selection.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Fred Bowen (author)
Other Authors
James Ransome (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Review

This enlightening history of the National Basketball Association is brought to life by vibrant, action-packed illustrations. The story begins right after WWII, when any idea of a professional basketball league was considered a hopeless dream, and it takes readers through the tough early days of playing in high-school gymnasiums to the gradual rise of superstars and power teams to its current status as a major sports and entertainment global franchise. The text highlights major milestones (1949: Sweetwater Clifton, an African American, signed by the Knicks; 1962: Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game), rivalries (Magic and Bird, Celtics and Lakers), and players (Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant). There are nods to early all-Black teams, the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, and current international players, presented in chapters that flow like a typical game (from "Tip Off" to "At the Buzzer"), all supported by glorious watercolor paintings that span pages and facing spreads. Back matter includes lists (champions, MVPs, franchises, NBA/ABA career scoring) and an extensive bibliography. This attractive offering will enhance school and public library collections, especially when paired with titles like Madison Moore's More than Just a Game: The Black Origins of Basketball (2021). Be prepared for it to fly off of shelves.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this engrossing, statistics-peppered history of the NBA, sportswriter Bowen traces the evolution of the league, including the sport's origin story in 1891, the league's history of segregation and discrimination, and the noteworthy achievements of players, such as Wilt Chamberlain's scoring 100 points in one game in 1962. The prose has a conversational, buzzy tone befitting the fast-moving subject matter: "But the ABA always had interesting players.... Characters such as Maurice 'Toothpick' McHartley... who couldn't play unless he had a toothpick in the corner of his mouth. (DO NOT TRY THIS!)" Bold watercolor illustrations by Ransome feature precisely detailed teams, with mid-action shots of plays both defensive and offensive, as well as collaged spreads and recognizable portraits of beloved NBA stars. A rousing exploration of an American institution. Back matter includes lists through 2021 of NBA Finals champions and NBA/ABA career scoring leaders. Ages 8--12. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

Bowen, children's sports columnist for The Washington Post, shares the history of the National Basketball Association. Avid basketball fans will eagerly drink in this narrative nonfiction account of the game's evolution. Starting with a look at the sport's humble peach-basket beginnings in 1891, the book goes on to cover the development of the 24-second clock, the establishment of the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association, the creation of the Olympic "Dream Team" of 1992, and more. Frank discussion of racial segregation and the integration of the NBA in 1950 provides an opportunity for children to discuss some of the sport's less noble history. With a list of league information, current at the time of printing, and an index included in the backmatter, this book can answer some quick trivia questions. Unfortunately, gender inequality and the WNBA are never mentioned. While providing ample information about multiple teams and several impactful individuals, the lack of a consistent hero, villain, or narrator might make some young readers lose interest. Ransome's painterly illustrations are primarily portrait-driven, giving life and character to past icons such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Red Auerbach, and more. Younger readers may only home in on some of their favorites, like Stephen Curry, who appears toward the end. Flaws aside, this monograph will appeal to young readers who are dedicated basketball fans. (lists, index, bibliography, additional resources) (Illustrated nonfiction. 9-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.