Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Basketball Vagabond

Not every professional basketball player gets to be Michael Jordan (just as not every librarian gets to be Nancy Pearl), but you rarely hear about these low-key players. What's it like to be a professional athlete without a multi-million dollar contract and without being hounded for endorsements? Paul Shirley tells you exactly what it's like in his new book Can I Keep My Jersey: 11 teams, 5 countries, and 4 years in my life as a basketball vagabond. Having previously chronicled his experiences in an NBA blog and an ESPN column, he brings an easy, conversational style to this book. He clocked minutes in NBA games, but he also played in scrappy leagues in Greece and Russia. He talks about days on the road, of financial ups and downs, even of trying to squeeze his lanky frame into an Aeroflot bathroom. Shirley covers it all here: practices, laundry, warm-ups, contract negotiations, and try-outs - the daily grind of basketball. He manages to do so with self-deprecating humor and honest analysis of his chosen path through life (and of course, he always has his mechanical engineering degree to fall back on). A fun read for anyone who's dreamed of making the big time.

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