Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
NBA champion--turned--TV analyst Smith debuts with an uplifting look at the "people and experiences who made me." Recounting what he learned from his relationships with Charles Barkley (his colleague on Inside the NBA), Michael Jordan (his teammate at the University of North Carolina), and Bill Russell (his first coach in the NBA), Smith traces his evolution from a skilled high school baller in Queens to playing on the Houston Rockets' championship teams in 1994 and 1995. Smith credits his high school coach for pushing him to develop the work ethic needed to harness his natural talent. He describes getting pulled from the Rockets' starting lineup and helping his relatively green replacement up his game, for which he earned praise from Barkley that assured him he was doing the right thing by putting aside his ego for the benefit of the team. The backstage anecdotes offer revealing insight into a storied career, but the strongest moments are when Smith discusses using his platform to speak out against racism; he cites Sacramento Kings teammate Michael Jackson for teaching him the value of advocating for racial justice and inspiring him to walk out on an Inside the NBA broadcast in solidarity with players protesting police violence in 2020. Smith scores in this thoughtful and intimate outing. (May)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
The renowned broadcaster and former NBA star looks back at his life and influences. Smith, a two-time NBA champion, co-host of TNT's Inside the NBA program, and broadcaster for CBS/Turner's coverage of March Madness, delivers a smartly structured memoir that reinforces the significance of relationships, perspective, and social awareness in the making of a champion. He chronicles his story primarily through the lens of his bonds with several champions both on and off the court. Refreshingly absent is the phrase "as told to (sportswriter name)" normally associated with memoirs from celebrities and professional athletes. This book--largely inspired by pandemic lockdowns and racial unrest in the U.S. in the past few years--is clearly Smith's alone, written for his children and the readers he invites "as if you are one of my family members." The author describes his multicultural upbringing in Queens, his time playing for Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina, and his professional playing career. He examines his relationships with a variety of people across his entire life, including his legendary high school and college coaches, college teammate Michael Jordan, and superstars such as Magic Johnson and the late Kobe Bryant. Smith demonstrates how understanding the winning mindsets of these seminal figures shaped his maturation on and off the court. This is particularly evident in the chapter featuring his TNT co-host Charles Barkley, with whom he has publicly disagreed about social, racial, and political issues. Perhaps the finest chapter details Smith's first NBA season, with the Sacramento Kings, during which he was coached and mentored about winning and social action by Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA titles as a player. "He taught me to be a professional," writes the author, "and showed me what it looked like to be a strong, self-assured Black man." Throughout, Smith writes with detailed recall and focus. An engaging read with insights and stories that basketball fans in particular will value highly. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.