I finished reading Basketball and Other Things by Shea Serrano. (I loved it.) It reminded me of how fun it was to go through the FreeDarko books years ago. Shea takes the weird thoughts and conversations you and your friends might have and goes deep on them. For example, everyone has a memory hero:
A memory hero is, in most (but not all) cases, someone who you remember as being way better than he or she actually was. Most times, the talent inflation happens because the memories were formed when you were a child or young person, and so since children and young people don’t know things and are very bad at placing things in context,
I loved this section. Shea shares answers from his writer friends.
The memory hero concept reminds me of a Steven Yuen interview where he talks about the magic window where you’re 10-12 years old and there are things you experience that just become your favorite things.
I had the privilege of listening to a Frank Darabont conversation earlier on during The Walking Dead, and he kept on talking about this “magic window” — I think it’s from maybe ages 10 to 12 — when you watch a movie, and it moves you. It just becomes one of the greatest things in your life for the rest of your life.
One of my memory heroes is Jeff Hornacek. I’d play NBA Live ’951 against my brother Dan.
Dan’s 4 years older than me which isn’t as much as adults but in elementary school it made him my nemesis. He rooted for Jordan which left me rooting for Barkley then Malone.
Usually my brother was off playing his season alone, but ask to play once in a while. One time we played he really thought he was Phil Jackson and was making a bunch of pre-game tweaks to his starters and then when the game started he paused it to tweak some more options for his team.
At this point I thought he was just messing with me so I told on him.
I can’t remember if it escalated slowly or if it all happened at once. What I do remember is that my mom ripped the cartridge out of the SNES. Raw strength because she did it without pressing the eject button. Not good but potentially not terrible—the cartridge and console would probably be okay.
Then she spiked it on the floor as hard as possible.
Okay so the console would probably be okay.
Dan couldn’t save his season progress after that. You could shake the cartridge and hear something moving around in there. Our theory is that the battery or whatever storage thing was in the cartridge must have exploded internally.
There’s not great lesson here: don’t tell on your older brother? Don’t spend 5 minutes setting your roster to beat your little brother?
Oh yeah so I just thought Jeff Hornacek would never miss in real life because he was some guy I could pass to in the game and he would make 3s.
That was his first year in Miami, and the general tone surrounding him and the Heat was that he was a bad guy for leaving Cleveland and the Heat were the bad team for Voltroning up with him and Bosh, and so of course him losing that year allowed for people who didn’t like LeBron to stare at his lackluster stat sheets and masturbate furiously.
Guilty. One of the best things reading this book is that it skips everything before the merger. The book’s history starts with Bird and Magic. I was too young to remember that decade, but I’ve read a couple books about it. More importantly, my dad kept a bunch of VHS tapes around from whatever the NBA’s equivalent of NFL Films or Coliseum Video was. I remember one of them being about how to play basketball by Larry Bird.
These legitimate tapes sat next to things that said like 120 Minutes on the face and on the edge there’d be a sticker with some sharpie written on it saying “Bulls Lakers Game 3”. One of the chores me and my brother had was learning to use the VCR to set recordings. And to make sure to switch tapes out so that the basketball games don’t record over the recurring Tonight Show tapes. For many years, I’d wake up and make a bowl of cereal while my dad drank coffee and watched Jay Leno2.
Anyway, I remember a lot of the things mentioned in the book. They were players I rooted for in high school. They were the players that retired and signaled to me that I wasn’t young anymore. And of course the current talent.
The passage above reminded me of how much I was in the camp of people rooting against LeBron. (Then rooted for him when he re-joined the Cavs.) And the book reminded me of where I was at different points when LeBron moments happened. I was in UW’s Electrical Engineering lab when he had the 48-point special.
I think I had NBA league pass at the time but you couldn’t access it on a phone. I was in Vegas for a bachelor party when he hit the game winner against the Magic. And I experienced the entire Heat/Mavs series in a 3-week hotel stay for a work trip to D.C. Yes, just waiting for bad stats. Which seems incredibly petty now but it was just that time in basketball history.
For all of the other parts of this book, each chapter is treated as a single question, and each answer for each question is carefully considered and worked through thoroughly. It was important to me for the book to move that way because in situations like these—situations where you’re trying to convince someone of something—people are far more receptive to receiving an answer (even one that they might disagree with) if they can see how you arrived at your conclusion.
I couldn’t put the book down. It was fun to read. I wrote a post about Bill Simmons and the Holy Cross Crusader archives that was sort of built around one of his podcasts when he had Chuck Klosterman on as a guest.
One point in there is that I’d love to write like Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman. Not necessarily about the same things because I’m not nearly as big a sports fan as either of them. But mostly I’ve always had fun reading things by Simmons and feel in some way smarter when I follow Klosterman through one of his thought experiments. (A recent favorite I read was a scenario where you can perform actual magic—as in like sorcery—but the extent of your skill is street magic. You can really make that card disappear. How do you feel about this?)
My point here is that I’d love to write like Shea Serrano also. This book is packed with these scenarios. (Which NBA player would be best as a group leader in The Purge?) He also has a great handle on his voice. I’ll continue to do terrible impressions of all these writers until I have a handle on my voice and can turn ideas into good premises for writing.
- Now, if it turns out Hornacek isn’t actually in Live ’95 then it’s okay because this whole thing is sort of about how bad our memories actually are. The rest of the story is definitely about a basketball game on the Super Nintendo.
- He lost the Sonics and The Tonight Show in a pretty quick span and the Thunder and Conan O’Brien haven’t exactly filled the gap. The Seahawks have helped.