1.15.2009

Basketball: FreeDarko & The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

by Hayden Alfano

“Whereas: We Reject the Old NBA.”

So begins The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac. It’s a new book (released in November of 2008) from the authors of FreeDarko, the professional basketball blog that gets it name from Darko Milicic, the Memphis Grizzlies center from Serbia who was the second overall pick in the 2003 National Basketball Association (NBA) amateur draft.

For the uninitiated, FreeDarko — be diligent if you type the URL in your Web browser, lest you be hit with a very X-rated surprise — is likely the most unique NBA blog in existence. The five fancifully pseudonymous authors of both blog and book — Bethlehem Shoals; Big Baby Belafonte; Brown Recluse, Esq.; Dr. Lawyer IndianChief; and Silverbird5000 — certainly know their hoops, but their take on the game goes well beyond what happens on the hardwood. FreeDarko regularly touches on political and cultural themes, the kind of stuff you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see on a basketball blog.

The quoted passage at the beginning of this column is actually the first sentence of what the authors call the “FreeDarko Manifesto,” an introduction, of sorts, to the book. On the next page, we find the language that tells us what the book is all about: “The appeal of individual Players transcends the boundaries between Teams. Coaches and General Managers respect the Team first, and in so doing compromise our attachments to favorite Players. We assert our right to sustain those attachments.”

The rest of the book is a series of short essays on the biggest names in the NBA, separated into categories such as “Master Builders” (superstars Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett), “People’s Champs” (popular players Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming, and Rasheed Wallace), and “Destiny’s Kids” (young studs LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Amare Stoudemire). Each player profile is accompanied by a fact box that includes notes about the player and his career, as well as more offbeat features. The chapter on the Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson and the Charlotte Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace, for instance, compares their respective teams’ annual meetings with the Aztec calendar system. Each player is also given their own spirit animal. The book is as colorful visually as it is verbally, with vibrant illustrations.

The book page on the FreeDarko site claims that “The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac functions simultaneously as the ultimate basketball book for the ultimate NBA fan as well as the ideal sports book for the person with no interest in sports.” That’s probably a bit of marketing, as the book, despite its cultural and psychological focus, is still primarily about basketball, and a reader who knows nothing of the game and the league will find it hard to follow. But FreeDarko, in addition to being required reading for any basketball fan, is a site worth bookmarking for those who don’t yet have an interest in the game, and The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac is a must-read for followers of both the blog and the NBA.

(Hayden Alfano is also the author of Rhymes With Hondo, a blog about the Boston Celtics, and 19'9", a college basketball blog.)

(The cover of
The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac is provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury USA.)











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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Rick Rockwell said...

Actually, I think that period is misplaced and it really needs to go over here.

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