OLD LAKERS, NEW WARRIORS AND THE CALIFORNIA DREAMERS WHO REINVENTED BASKETBALL
Jerry West is a basketball icon
– literally, as his silhouette is incorporated into the NBA logo. One of the best players of his era in the 1960s and
’70s, he became the foremost frontoffice builder of teams in the next phase of his hoops life.
West is the tether between two of the league’s most dominant teams, his ’72 Lakers and the present-day
Warriors. Both were mould-breakers;
Golden State’s space-bending, long-bombing style is well-understood for how it has changed basketball, while their forebears in Los Angeles were credited with introducing the game-day shootaround, something every team does now. But this is also a tale of how the NBA has changed over 40 years, from an afterthought on the American sporting landscape to genuine global game.
The material is an ideal fit for author Jack McCallum, the former NBA beat writer for Sports Illustrated and author of previous indispensable hoops tomes on the ’92 US Olympic Dream Team, the Steve Nash-era Phoenix Suns and Larry Bird’s late-’80s Celtics. McCallum is the consummate insider, illuminating the interpersonal ties that inform so much of basketball and the NBA, a sport and a league themselves that are highly personal. Characters leap out of these pages: Wilt Chamberlain, for whom “larger-than-life” hardly cuts it, or Steph Curry, shaped by an unlikely path to superstardom. But West looms over all – the rare, great athlete riven by self-doubt, who steadfastly defied becoming a “back-in-my-day” type to stay relevant at the highest level of basketball for more than 50 years.
Good for: well, essential for basketball fans. But those interested in sporting greatness will eat it up.