NBA Book Fair Pt. 475565
On the heels of Simmons scooping us today by commenting on JR Smith's clowning of Julius Hodge for reading books; and in concurrence with esteemed reader, Squidiotic, sending us Artest's gem of an interview in Stuff magazine (more on this in a second), it seems as though a more thorough investigation into the reading habits of the Association's finest is merited. Psychology is something that we are no strangers to, and in our continuing quest to understand the mental makeup of the league's constituents, it seems like book-reading habits will get us one step closer. Some players' book choices are obvious, telling us nothing. For instance, we have already documented at length, Dwyane Wade's love for Jane Austen; and I don't need Paul Shirley to tell me to go read Fortress of Solitude. A cursory google search on [NBA+Players+"favorite book"] reveals far more, as you will see:
--Shane Battier: Claims his favorite book is Lonesome Dove. I don't know anything about this book except I remember it, like, in every person's parents' bookshelf when I was young. And I remember the cover had a very bland desert aesthetic, almost cowboy-esque. In other words, this book seems mad Kryzewski.
--Allen Iverson: Claims his favorite book is The Color Purple. Now I'm not saying that Iverson hasn't read The Color Purple, but let's just say he's definitely seen the movie. Just as Iverson signifies pain in a post-pain NBA (following the 1980s style of on-court brawls, muggings, Barkley and Rodman socking people, players doing coke), so too is Spielberg's take on the Alice Walker classic somewhat removed from itself.
--Lebron James: Coming out of High School, he stated that his favorite subject in school was American Literature, because he "Liked reading books by the accomplished authors." Such a statement of vapid perfection, very LeBron. I too liked reading Walt Whitman and JD Salinger in high school, but I didn't really get it until later. When you're 21 years old and living in Brooklyn and "trying to feel alienated" as everyone has to do for a few months in the 21st century, you're like, "Oh yeah, I get what that stuff was about." But while you're reading those authors in high school, you just use heuristics to say, "Well, this person is famous so it must be good." Thanks LeBron, for again giving us the hollow truth.
--Adonal Foyle's favorite book is Native Son. Shocker. This one is almost too obvious to list, but it's also ironic in the sense that Foyle is actually the exact inverse of Bigger Thomas, adopted by Colgate professors, and taken from his home in St. Vincent to attend college there and experience a normal white middle class upbringing.
--Evan Eschmeyer claims his favorite book is Walden by Thoreau. I'm just going to pretend that he said his favorite book is Walden Two by BF Skinner, which is a weird psychological-sci-fi drama about a Utopia, in which all children are raised through this creepy systematic sort of operant conditioning. I imagine Eschmeyer to have resulted from a similar large-scale science project.
--Tim Duncan's favorite book as a child was Encyclopedia Brown. I don't really have a comment here, except that it's cool that Duncan didn't say Dr. Seuss like every other NBA player (when asked in the context of "Read to Achieve" events). It's as if reading isn't "cool" in the NBA (cf. Simmons on JR Smith's earlier comments), so as a means of attaining faux street cred, NBA players cite Dr. Seuss, because it sort of sounds like rap. For example: Shawn Marion states [referring to Green Eggs and Ham], "When I was little, I liked all the Dr. Seuss books. They had little catchy slogans to them and the rhymes were cool." Ok fine.
--Amare Stoudemire claims his favorite book as a child was Rumplestiltskin, stating, "I was about eleven when I read it. He (Rumplestiltskin) was a bad dude."
--Wang ZhiZhi--and this just confounds me, claims his favorite "book" is Dante's The Divine Comedy. This is just further proof that ZhiZhi is 850 years old, and Chinese basketball players are completely on some other shit. Like, I can imagine any number of NBA guys "having" to read Dante at some point in college, but to decide that it was their "favorite" book?
--Ron Artest, from the aformentioned Stuff Magzine interview:
Black Boy by Richard Wright
"I can't remember the story--he was going through slavery or something--but every time somebody asks me what my favorite book is, I say Black Boy."
Ok, at first I was pissed at Ron-Ron, because let's face it, this is just some DUMB shit to say. But the more I thought about it, I was like, you know, this just means that Ron is a fucking dude. Like, this is basically the same as trying to impress some girl by telling her you read Infinite Jest or The Brothers Karamazov or whatever. Ron is like, YEAH, IT'S IMPORTANT, I GET IT.