Thursday, October 22, 2009


I want to write a book.

I've never written one before and I'm sure I'm just another one of the millions of people in this country that thinks they have what it takes to write the Great American Novel. The thing is though, I don't have the Great American Novel in me. I'm far more comfortable waxing intellectual about pop culture and things I find interesting. Maybe one day I'll have a novel that I'm itching to get write, but that time isn't right now.

Right now, I want to write a book about basketball. I think being a casual fan of the sport and not a sports writer makes me the perfect candidate for such a thing. I have no interest in writing about the history of the game or that one great quarter from some obscure, but meaningful game from the mid-90s, I want to write about a team.

I want to go on the road with a professional basketball team for an entire year and turn that into a book—Hunter S. Thompson with the Hells Angels or campaign trail style*.

*I'm fully aware that this is not an original idea at all and it's what newspaper beat writers do for a living, but they are slaves to the formula of the newspaper. They have to adhere to the facts of what happened, how they happened, who played well and what was said on the record. I want more freedom than that. That is what would make this a good book.

I imagine it's kind of like being on tour with a band for a year at a time, only far more luxurious. With a band (that's not famous, I mean), your schedule is pretty routine. You drive, play, sleep and drive again and repeat. If you're a famous band you have TV spots and appearances occasionally, but otherwise you mostly keep to yourself.

I want to know what it's like for these guys that are getting millions of dollars a year to play a sport they love. They have to put their heart out on the court eighty-two nights a year and sometimes, it gets crushed. Then they have to go into the locker room and explain to 15 people with microphones and cameras why their heart wasn't big enough.

There are tons of factors that go in to making this a reality, though—and I'm not talking about financially. Right now I'm just dreaming. The biggest question is what team do you go with? Do you pick the team that's a sure thing to make the playoffs, like the defending champions? That angle could be interesting because you'd get to see the stress of living up to expectations and dealing with everyone just assuming you're as good, if not better, than the year before.

Or do you go with the perennial loser that hasn't been in the post season in years? There are no expectations so all the pressure is off. You may get one or two guys that feel like they should be playing for a winner, but just don't have the supporting cast. Kind of like Ray Allen when he was in Seattle. He's doing everything he can to carry a team, but the rest of them are just happy to be getting paid to play the game.

The most fun I think, would be a team like the Phoenix Suns. On paper, they're one of the most talented teams in the league and should be in the running for a title every year, but for whatever reason they've just never made it over the hump.

(The Jazz are in kind of in this same category, but not quite. They have talent and they will always be good, but never quite good enough. Phoenix, on the other hand, has superstars like Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire and they are always expected to preform better than they usually do. In fact, last season with the Phoenix Suns would have been the perfect team to follow for this book. They had Nash, Amare and Shaq but a coach and front office that were never on the same page.)

Ideally, it would start the day that training camp opens and follow the team until the finals were over—regardless of whether they were in the post-season or not. I wonder what it would be like to watch the playoffs with someone like Steve Nash, whose Suns missed the post-season by merely two games. That would make a great chapter, I think.

But in the end, you have to know the right people to pull something like this off. You have to have money to spend too, because 40+ plane trips, hotels and meals a year wouldn't come cheap. I'll probably never get to do it, but it's always fun to think about what it would be like.

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