And now for something completely different.
A couple months ago, I met a University of Michigan Professor of Comparative Literature named Santiago (Yago) Colas (behold the wonders of Twitter). This semester, Yago is teaching a course called Basketball Cultures, which I highlighted during my brief and exhilarating reign as TrueHoop’s stand-in Editor.
In my post, I noted that many us who love watching, playing and read about basketball would kill to take this course. Now, with some help from our TrueHoop Network comrades, HoopSpeak will be doing just that in a new feature called Basketball Culture 101.
Creative title, no?
Each Thursday, for the next three months, a guest writer from the TrueHoop Network will tackle, in essay form, one of the course materials from the Yago’s class. There will be no grades given, no credit awarded and no holds barred.
This week, the accomplished and eloquent Bret LaGree of Hoopinion will be kicking things off with a commentary on the chronologically appropriate Mr. Basketball: George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the Birth of the NBA by Michael Schumacher.
I couldn’t be more excited about this project. Each writer will use a book or film relating to basketball culture as a jumping off point, but you can expect a diversity of approaches and voices that will reflect the myriad ways the very phrase “basketball culture” can be understood.
As Yago’s syllabus explains, the straightforward goals of his course are:
- To expand our knowledge of the history and variety of the game’s manifestations
- To enhance our awareness of the nature and types of stories that spring up around the game
- To strengthen our ability to recognize and shape the stories we tell about the game as well as the uses to which we put those stories in daily life.
I hope the new project can live up to the Professor’s expectations, and that you tune in each Thursday to read some of the best NBA writers around (full schedule below).
Read to achieve!
Basketball Culture 101 Contributor Schedule
1/20: Bret LaGree on Mr. Basketball: George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the Birth of the NBA by Michael Schumacher (2007)
1/27: Graydon Gordian on The Essence of the Game is Deception by Leonard Koppett (1973)
2/3: Timothy Varner on They Call Me Coach by John Wooden (2003)
2/10: Hayes Davenport on Foul! Connie Hawkins: Schoolyard Star, Exile, NBA Superstar by David Wolf (1972)
2/14: Brendan Jackson on Bill Russell’s Second Wind (1979) and Go For Glory (1966)
2/17: Jared Wade on Loose Balls by Terry Pluto (1978)
2/24: Patrick Hayes on Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam (1981)
3/3: Spencer Hall on Lady Magic: The Autobiography of Nancy Lieberman-Cline by Nancy Lieberman-Cline with Debby Jennings (1992)
3/10: Beckley Mason on Wilt: Just Like Any Other 7 Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door (1973) and Conan The Destroyer (1984)
3/17: Ryan DeGama on When the Game Was Ours by Jackie MacMullan (2010)
3/24: Devin Kharpertian on The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey (1994)
3/31: Rob Mahoney on Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson (1995)
4/7: John Krolik on The Last Season by Phil Jackson (2005)
4/14: Ethan Sherwood Strauss on Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA by Grant Farred (2006)
4/21: Writer Roundtable
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