Monday, October 1, 2012

Tales from the athletic world are @ your library

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum

Kirkus Reviews

The inside story of the greatest basketball team ever assembled. The 1992 United States men's basketball team not only stands as the most talented basketball team ever, but it remains something of a cultural phenomenon that helped make basketball a truly global sport and the NBA an international brand. Longtime Sports Illustrated writer McCallum, who covered the "Dream Team" at the Barcelona Olympics, recounts the process whereby NBA stars cruised to the gold medal, crushing opponents who would later pose for pictures with and ask for autographs from the American players. The author sketches a group biography in which some figures (Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley) perhaps rightfully garner more attention than others and in which even the selection of the team became a source for drama. Unbeknownst to most, Jordan and Magic (recently diagnosed with HIV) jockeyed for alpha-dog status while Bird was happy to cede the spotlight, comfortable in his accomplishments and willing to use the Olympics as a career capstone before retiring. Barkley represented one of the most controversial choices for the team primarily because of his unpredictable nature, which could be endearingly frank or just plain irascible. Ultimately, though, Barkley probably took the greatest pleasure in the Barcelona experience, slipping past the team's security apparatus to enjoy the nightlife and the Olympic experience. Coach Chuck Daly held the team together in large part because he could masterfully steer the egos without seeming to do so. McCallum tells the story well, albeit occasionally too choppily, and some might find that he inserts himself into the story a bit too freely. However, he also effectively evokes the remarkable team while placing it within the larger historical context. Basketball and Olympics fans will welcome this nostalgic trip through the recent past.

Out of the Blue by Victor Cruz with Peter Schrager

From Publisher –

Victor Cruz, the Super Bowl-winning and record-breaking wide receiver, is best known for his explosive plays and salsa touchdown celebrations. While his meteoric rise in the NFL looked like the result of a magical year, it was actually a lifetime in the making.

Raised in Paterson, New Jersey’s gritty Fourth Ward, Cruz overcame numerous setbacks through hard work, perseverance, and the support of his loving family—from his grandmother who gave him his signature dance moves; to his late father, a former firefighter, who introduced him to football and taught him how to play; to his hard-working, single mother who never let him give up in the face of a challenge. They all helped to keep him on the right path, as did his coaches, but Cruz’s journey was never easy. There were family tragedies, academic struggles, injuries, and more. In this inspiring, never-before-seen account, Cruz pays tribute to the people and places that made him the man he is today, recounts his most defining moments, and illustrates how his hardships ultimately unleashed his impenetrable will to win.

Out of the Blue is a candid and moving reflection of an overlooked and undersized athlete with an uncommon last name in American football that was determined to beat the odds and earn his chance to succeed.

Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball by R. A. Dickey

Publishers Weekly –

Most professional baseball players pen a memoir after they retire. But pitcher R.A. Dickey-who spent four seasons with four different Major League Baseball teams and is MLB's only active knuckleballer-boasts a story compelling enough to be told forthwith. A heralded 1996 first-round draft choice, Dickey's $810,000 signing bonus with the Texas Rangers was yanked after doctors discovered the right-handed pitcher was missing an ligament in his right elbow. Thus began a dramatic up-and-down journey through the professional ranks, sustained by Dickey's determination, as evidenced by the book's proverbial Latin epigraph, "Dum spiro, spero"-"While I breath, I hope." He and co-author Coffey (The Boys of Winter) write with startling candor not only about the game-Dickey's fellow players, steroids in baseball, his disdain for rookie hazing-, but also about his tumultuous upbringing-being a victim of sexual abuse as an 8-year-old at the hands of his babysitter, growing up in Nashville with an alcoholic mother, sleeping in vacant houses as a teenager, and becoming a Christian. Dickey credits his faith with overcoming myriad trials both personal and professional, but it never feels as if he's preaching. Once an English-lit major and now a starting pitcher for the New York Mets, the author emerges as one of baseball's good guys, and someone who can write as well as he pitches. Dickey has set a new standard for athlete autobiographies.

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