- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Any book by Evan Weiner is an event for sports fans and his latest eBook, “From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA” (Smashwords: 271 pages, available for download on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes. Books must be read on an iOS device.) is no exception.
It’s the story of professional basketball with interviews of people involved in the game in the 30s, 40s and 50s — way before it became so organized.
We at Huntington News Network (www.huntingtonnews.net) have published articles by Evan Weiner (use the HNN search engine) and I’ve reviewed his history of the NFL (link:http://www.huntingtonnews.net/53174). He’s a wonderful writer, the very best — as far as I’m concerned — for writing about the culture and business of sports, including the junction of politics and sports.
Here’s Weiner’s description of the book:
“In 2013, Basketball may or may not be the world’s second most popular sport behind football (soccer) but the game’s growth has exploded since the 1984 Olympics. Dr. James Naismith created the game in 1891 and while it was a popular game, the professional version of the sport did not do well. Leagues came and went. Some of the best teams in the early days didn’t play in an organized league and instead barnstormed and played games wherever a promoter put down a floor and offered a few bucks to pay the players.
“The most successful of all the early basketball leagues, the National Basketball League, began operations in 1937. The NBL was based in the United States with teams that seemingly were aligned with the American auto industry in the Great Lakes region.
“In 1946, the American east coast-based arena owners began the Basketball Association of America. By 1949, the BAA owners were able to entice NBL franchises to join the new league and in 1949, the National Basketball Association was formed with the amalgamation of the two leagues.
“Basketball in the United States reflected the post-Civil War America. Negro players proved they could play with their white counterparts but were shut out of the professional leagues. The all-Negro clubs, the New York Rens and the Harlem Globetrotters won the World Professional Tournament in 1939 and 1940 beating established all-white National Basketball League teams. The NBL desegregated in 1942. The NBA would not sign a Negro player until 1950.
“The Harlem Globetrotters would be scheduled as part of an exhibition-NBA doubleheader in many NBA cities because the Globetrotters will draw a crowd. The 1950s NBA was a sports non-entity.
“In the 1960s, two leagues challenged the NBA for major league status in the United States. Both failed but changed the basketball industry despite financial problems.
“In the 1980s, the NBA was still on the brink of failure. This is the story of the professional basketball from the people who were there, their story of old cars, dance halls and chasing TV dollars.
“The book ends on February 1, 1984, the day David Stern became the fourth Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. Somehow the NBA survived against long odds in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Stern’s NBA is sturdy. Franchise values have soared over a half billion dollars. The pioneers of basketball never did think the NBA would become a global entity. They were just happy to play pro basketball and then get on with their lives.”
Very interesting, but the way Weiner puts everything in context and the way he writes makes this book a winner. I was familiar with some of the details, but for the big picture, read Weiner’s very entertaining book.
A word from Evan Weiner about the availability of the new book:
It’s apple iTunes, https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196?mt=11, smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/306157, kobo,http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/From-Peach-Baskets-Dance-Halls/book-tCoWBXKS7UK796y9Uvenig/page1.html?s=lvA8gGWw7UKQ8PkcpFd6pw&r=1 and will be on diesel books soon and nook (Barnes and Noble). It’s a book loaded with interviews with the people who were there and they tell their stories of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
About the Author, Evan Weiner, in his own words:
I have been involved in some sort of journalism since I was 15 starting with WRKL Radio in Ne
w City, NY and the Rockland Journal News back in 1971 as a high school junior at Spring Valley High School. Married with two adult children, I enjoy traveling, seeing new places. As far as being a journalist, I am attempting to create a new space, an intersection between politics (government) and sports. The “Business of Sports” is my radio commentary that started on June 14, 1999. I also write newspaper opinion pieces and yeah, I have been a TV talking head. I also speak at colleges and before groups. Maybe I am a bit of a workaholic, but there is nothing wrong with that. I also want to write a comedy movie and may even do it even if no one has an interest in the script. My favorite movie is the Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder version of The Producers and Blazing Saddles is up there, but a few notches.