Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Keep the jersey, but don't call me Shirley

Want a hoops-related summer reading suggestion? After getting sidetracked a few times for work-related reads (grab Daniel Brook's new takedown of the Right and the indispensable Freire too), I got through Paul Shirley's (yeah, that Paul Shirley) new book "Can I Keep My Jersey?" The big man kept a journal for the first three years of his professional hoops career and later adapted it, edited it, and turned it into a 300+ page book that doesn't disappoint.

You may have caught his blog a year or two ago (Simmons trumpeted it) and if you're familiar with that, it's more of the same: incredibly pessimistic, self-deprecating about his love life and basketball skills almost to the point of nausea (given he was probably one of the 500 best players in the world), and strangely arrogant about his intellect. Shirley hilariously details his travels over seas, his battles for contracts, and the madness that is the NBA. He plays the victim card a little too much but his cultural criticism and hatred of religion is well-thought out and he delivers a surprising amount of good one-liners and stories along the way. Among them is a not too friendly critique of our '03-'04 Bulls, as you'll remember he was a member briefly. Let's just say he was not too pleased when one Kendall Gill asked him to carry the former Illini's luggage.

One funny excerpt to leave you with, from his time playing in the middle of Siberia . . .

"As the halting conversation progressed between the two women and Shammond [Williams] and me (we happened to be nearest to them), my internal whore-o-meter went from 65 percent sure they were hookers to 90 percent in a matter of minutes. The Russian girls should have realized that we were going to be poor marks when they saw that we were drinking tea; had they fully understood most of the things we were saying, they definitely would have realized that we were not actually interested in their wares. We were more interested in making each other laugh. At one point, when the conversation had died down again, Shammond blurted out, 'Do you have sex for money?' The ringleader of the group acted embarrassed, and then whispered in my ear, 'Maybe two girls at the same time?' which I relayed to Shammond. He asked, 'How much?' They replied that it would cost $600. Having pushed the envelope as far as it needed to go, we turned away from them and went back to talking among ourselves. When we got up to leave for the night, the girls followed us as we made a final circuit of the building to see what we had been missing while we had been talking to hookers. The English-speaker made a last-ditch effort with me, saying (this is a direct quote), 'Maybe now we could go back to your hotel, relax, little sex, what you call -- menage a trois?' I gave her a smile and said no, and they finally left, which actually surprised me. Aren't whores supposed to negotiate?"

2 Comments:

Blogger BenGo07 said...

Are you reviewing the Friere somewhere or is it for your Nation article?

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Coach Skiles said...

Hey dudes,

Gonna be there by 5:30 cause I need some fielding practice. Erie is 4-0, so we need some Micah-esque plays tonite.

Go dawgs!

12:41 PM  

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