Friday, July 20, 2012

'The Dream Team' by Jack McCallum

I saw this book first mentioned on some website while I was on vacation.  So I did what most people usually do when they see a book on vacation… they write the name down and wait until AFTER vacation to read it.  Yeah, I’ve never been good with reading books on vacation and I’m not sure why.  This was, however, the first book I read after my visit to the land of milk and honey (Florida) and I had an absolutely enjoyable time reading it.  We always hear people say “I would love to be a fly on the wall when…”.  Well the fly is Jack McCallum (sorry Jack) and the wall is a canvas drawn with the 1992 Olympic Games as the base and the Dream Team as the primer.

I’m a basketball fan but not to the point of absurdity, as some are.  But because of the impact that Jordan, Bird, Magic, Barkley, Pippen had on (pretty much) everything, this was a book that I needed to read.  Completely enjoyable, this book can be enjoyed by an “asylum fan” or a casual fan.  It was nice to read about the little things that we mortals miss because we didn’t travel with the NBA superstars.  Jack does a great job of telling this fairy tale with wit, real anecdotes, and a history that we heard about but never really HEARD about.  We knew the team was picked, but HOW was it picked?  We knew that it was chock FULL of stars, but how would they get along?  What is the REAL story behind Jordan vs. the Reebok jacket?  Was Isiah Thomas screwed out of a position by Jordan?  (Let me help you with that one… YES!) 

The author has a good bead on interviewing and it was interesting to see some of the places he (and the interviewee) choose to talk.  It’s almost impossible to narrate the entire experience of the 1992 Dream Team into a single book, but I like how it is done here.  Almost everyone has a chapter or three (Jordan.  Forever the competitor) and we get a fun yet informative history on the beginnings of a (pro) US Basketball team. 

Also, to anyone reading this book you’ll notice one other thing: this author enjoys books.  Not only writing them, reading them as well.  Now I’m some of you just went “duh, he’s an author”, but trust me on this.  Not every author likes to read and you can clearly differentiate the ones that do.  Jack do’s.  Aside from his “nonfiction doesn’t have to be dull” way of writing, I enjoyed the literary reference sprinkled throughout this book.

But getting back to basketball... you’ll like this book.  A lot.  Jack’s BIO says that he was with ‘Sports Illustrated’ for thirty years.  It’s a shame I missed all those articles.  (Shut up I know there’s Google).  It takes a lot for this fiction ONLY lover to heap praises on a non-fiction book, but that’s because it is well deserved.  Jack is a well respected reporter and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say, a friend, to more than a few of the NBA legends.  That also comes across in this book and that only adds to the authenticity of his work.  Alongside the crude jokes, practice barbs, and gambling stories, are personal stories that must be read to be felt.  There’s a lot going on on the cover of this book.  The only thing missing are the letters “Volume 1”. 

One reader’s wish if I may; while I hope this author lives a long time I can only hope that he’s writing a tell all book to be published posthumously.  Jack spent a lot of time around the NBA’s greatest and this man has some stories to tell.  Seriously.  I want to know who the NBA Dream Teamer was that ran into the family room demanding “who’s got a rubber, I need one quick”.  Just one of the many quips like that in this book.  Just one of the many quips like that that are unwritten.

But aside from that… please live a long time Jack.  And keep writing books like this.


**One other thing: the eBook/Kindle edition DOES NOT have the pictures that the print book does.  Why?  Not sure, but I hope the publisher reconsiders.**

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