E. Jean’s Hoop Dreams

By Alex Belth Esquire Classic 2016 This week marked the anniversary of Magic Johnson’s 1992 return to the NBA after having retired the previous fall, when he announced he was HIV positive. He turned in a triumphant, dramatic performance at the All-Star Game, scoring...

Sitting on the Rim With Earl Manigault

By Ivan Solotaroff The Village Voice October 16, 1990 Stretched out on his bed in Room 517A in St. Luke’s Hospital, Earl “the Goat” Manigault is clutching the pole of the IV unit he’s hooked into as he gazes out the window at Morningside Park. Beside a half-eaten...

Benching Himself

By Will Blythe The New York Times November 4, 2001 At 59, the novelist John Edgar Wideman has recently given up the game of playground basketball. His new memoir, Hoop Roots, originates in that loss, which is monumental, the terrifying and inevitable fate of every...

Dean Smith

By Will Blythe From To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever 2007 Soon after I returned to Chapel Hill , I had arranged to visit with Dean Smith, the former North Carolina head coach. I dressed up for the occasion, although these days the journalist in me had become...

The Stacks Chat: Alex Wolff

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader April 2018 The Library of America’s newest sports anthology, Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game, is out and deserves a place on the shelf of any self-respecting hoops fan. We recently sat down with the book’s editor,...

Requiem For A Forgotten Globetrotter

By Peter Goldman Sport November 1977 “You get what your hand called for.” —The Sayings of Leon Hillard Somebody showed me in the papers a while ago where Leon got what his hand didn’t call for. The headline jumped out at me first—EX-GLOBETROTTER IS KILLED BY WIFE—and...

Amen to Sonny

By Joe Flaherty The Village Voice January 14, 1971 Will no one say amen? After reading and listening to the New York press, it seems that Charles “Sonny” Liston’s soul will be politely consigned to damnation. Milton Gross of the Post, the Eleanor Roosevelt of the...

The Summer in the City Game

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader With all due respect to the national pastime, summer is also time for hoops, especially of the pick-up variety. Of course, in the realm of basketball literature there is a whole rich subsection of writing devoted to the street game....

The Old Man and the Mule

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Here is a good story from Second Wind: Memoirs of an Opinonated Man by Bill Russell with the historian Taylor Branch (1979, Random House; currently out-of-print). It’s about Russell’s grandfather and his mule, Kate. Russell’s family was...

Manchild in the Promised Land

By Pete Dexter Inside Sports April 1980 Early February. Frank Dawkins is sitting in a second-floor office made of cement and insulated against the noise downstairs in the plant. Exactly what is manufactured in the plant is hard to say, but it has something to do with...

The Magic Act

By Charles P. Pierce GQ February 1993 At the corner of Washington and Ionia streets, in the city of Lansing, Michigan, there was a grand old movie house called the Gladmer Theater. Growing up on Middle Street, in a small auto-boom frame house, temple of the tiny...

No Rebound

By Stephen Rodrick The New York Times Magazine June 1, 2003 Dennis Rodman, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, lounges in a chair on the patio of his oceanfront home in Newport Beach, Calif. After multiple hues and shades, Rodman’s hair is back to its...