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The Greatest Basketball Player I Ever Saw

The Greatest Basketball Player I Ever Saw by Dr. Len Bergantino is a touching mix of sports biography and autobiography. It is likely the most unique biography you’ll ever have the pleasure of reading. Doctor Bergantino is an eccentric writer who has already written on various subjects. However, with this book, he has turned his hand to writing a sports biography. The strange part is he has chosen to write it about a sportsman you will never have heard of who died at the tender age of 18.

The book is a biography of Billy Finn, Bergantino’s high school best friend who died in a car crash before he ever had a chance to become famous. Bergantino spends much of the book explaining why he thinks Finn was the best basketball player of all time. Finn’s abilities are described as almost supernatural. This part of the book will likely appeal to anyone interested in basketball or amateur sports.

The book isn’t just about Billy Finn, the sportsman, however. Instead, it is a monument to Finn, Bergantino’s friend. I think this is the part of the book that will really appeal to most readers. Bergantino shares with us, the reader, touching anecdotes of what he and Finn got up to as young men. His love for his childhood friend, even 50 years after his passing, is evident and touching.

Bergantino’s affection for Finn is almost infectious. The book is written in such a way that the reader finds themselves caring about a young man they had never heard of before. Finn’s personality is described as warts and all. The two young men don’t always see eye to eye, and Bergantino doesn’t shy away from this. Even the best of friends annoy each other from time to time.

The book is a short, easy read. Bergantino’s writing is energetic if a bit frantic at times. He is a fan of hyperbole, and some of his claims about Finn may have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The eccentric style is enjoyable for most of the book, but the final chapter, in which he talks about how Finn has been reincarnated, may leave some readers, myself included, feeling a little cold. It feels like this last chapter goes off on a little bit of a tangent.

All in all, The Greatest Basketball Player I Ever Saw is a touching biography of a young man you more than likely have never heard of. But, whether you’re a sports fan or not, the book is mostly a beautiful monument to a man whose best friend still bitterly misses him.

Pages: 81 | ASIN : B0865X1P48

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This Was Always About Basketball

This Was Always About Basketball by Craig Leener is a wonderful story that follows the protagonist Ezekiel Archer, better known as ‘Zeke,’ as he prepares himself for his next big step in life at the University of Kansas. This is where he plans to take his basketball dreams to the next level. However, as he begins completing his extensive to-do list before he leaves, he encounters a few bumps along the way, such as history being completely altered. As this is not the first time an unusual happening has been in Zeke’s life, he knows exactly who to turn to, his autistic but brilliant mathematician friend Lawrence.

The whole concept behind this story is compelling, and the imagination used to combine science fiction with a diary written by Zeke is done well. Having the story written in the first person narrative and having him address the reader by introducing himself,  ‘My name is Ezekiel Archer’  from one of the first lines draws them in, making them feel included in the story. There are areas throughout where the details are rich and descriptive, such as ‘Lawrence’s handwriting—rigid and purposeful letters carefully sketched and slanted in an easterly direction.’ These moments allow readers to come to know the characters, it assists the reader in understanding them on a deeper level.

This Was Always About Basketball is an entertaining and enjoyable read. The chapters are short, but all relevant which helps with the plot flow, and you are always left wanting more. This is not the first book in this series that I have read, and I hope it will not be the last as through each adventure, you learn more about the characters and feel you are part of the story with them. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a fantasy story.

Pages: 257 | ASIN : B08PM9X1PW

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All Roads Lead to Lawrence

All Roads Lead To Lawrence, by Craig Leener, is a lively science fiction story that follows the life of a young man named Zeke, his friend and their lives; which revolve around the game of basketball. Everything starts to go terribly wrong as they approach their summer break. Someone dies, his girlfriend Rebecca makes a decision that will change the course of their relationship, and one of his friends is in a terrible accident. Zeke is forced to grow up and take responsibility for his life and how he affects those around him. Then things begin to get really strange when an unusual character starts to cross his path. Being no stranger to weird happenings, Zeke knows he needs the help of his friends, especially his autistic friend Lawrence, to try and figure out what is going on.

From one of the very first lines, “My name is Zeke Archer, and that’s where this strange tale begins.” the author establishes the point of view, sets the level of intrigue, and prepares readers for the extraordinary things that are about to occur. I enjoyed this opening from a technical perspective, but this also shows the sharp writing of author Craig Leener. From here readers will be engaged with the first person narrative, and feel more involved in the story. This is important since this is the second book in the series. You don’t necessarily have to have read book one to pick this book up, you can enjoy it on it’s own, but you may way to read book one just to get a full appreciation for the character and story arc over the series.

Many themes are touched upon throughout the story which offer advice for young readers, especially teenage readers who may find themselves in a similar situation (minus the science fiction parts). For example the subject of the death of a loved one or having a sibling in the U.S. Marine Corps is explored in the story in a delicate and respectful way. Telling this story from the first person perspective allows the reader to get an insight into how someone in this situation may feel. Furthermore, by following the characters facing pivotal life lessons such as getting their first job, it makes the tale more relatable and provides useful tips that the reader can apply in their own lives.

I was amazed by the level of imagination that is infused throughout this story and the clever way in which young adult science fiction and basketball is woven together throughout the book. Having read other stories in this series, it is nice to gain further details about the characters and I am sure they have so much more to give. I would definitely recommend this read to others as the short chapters make it easily digestible and the fun plot make this an entertaining story from start to finish.

Pages: 334 | ASIN: B07XL91FZG

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This Was Never About Basketball

This Was Never About Basketball by Craig Leener follows a young teenage boy named Zeke whose entire life revolves around the game of basketball. Unfortunately, due to past experiences, he finds himself attending a school for children who have been expelled or are deemed problematic; thankfully, this includes his friends. Unfortunately, this also means he now has to miss out on playing his beloved game at college, almost having to begin again. His luck does begin to change when he has a chance to play in a tournament; however, this is when things start to get a little strange, which is made clear by another boy from school, Lawrence.

The imagination that has gone into this story is impressive; combining an uplifting story of a person trying to play basketball and the life lessons he faces along the way with elements of an unusual adventure works wonderfully and definitely keeps the reader intrigued. But, of course, this is assisted by how the story is told.

Using a first-person narrative to get the full story from Zeke’s perspective works well. I especially liked the story’s opening, where he addresses the audience directly, ‘Great way to start a story, right? But that’s exactly how it happened…’. It is an excellent hook that immediately grabs your attention and leaves you wondering what will happen.

This Was Never About Basketball by Craig Leener is a fantastic coming-of-age teen and a young adult novel. I was able to read one of the books in this series from another character’s perspective and I personally enjoyed it a little more due to how intriguing the writing was; however, this book is definitely one you can read repeatedly. The way the story flows with the short chapters and the constant build of tension and mysterious events will keep anyone on the edge of their seat.

Pages: 221 | ASIN : B08QXYWY53

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We Lived Every Kid’s Dream

Mr. Stephen D Reddy Author Interview

A ball with no points tells the true story of your high school basketball team and the remarkable victory they achieved. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As I explained in book’s Prologue, this story was too special to let it just fade away and be forgotten forever. Our recent team reunion after 46 years made it clear how special those memories still were amongst all of us who made it happen. We lived every kid’s dream…and it was time to share the dream with everyone else.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

It was describing some of the hardships that many of my teammates endured later in life, and that needed to part of the story. Life is hard, but despite those hardships, our friendships and bonds have remained stronger than ever.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

“You can’t be afraid of what other people might think of you.” – Jim Valvano

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Believe in yourself, and then go chase your dreams.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

When a group of unheralded boys came together in 1971, not much was expected. Over the next four months they produced “one of the most remarkable Cinderella Stories ever written,” according to one local paper.

For decades Westfield, NJ has been the idyllic suburban town known for its distinctive homes along tree-lined streets, its classic downtown area, and for having a school system that was the envy of many neighboring towns. During the ’60s and ’70s, the town proudly witnessed the most dominant high school football program in the state under the leadership of head coach Gary Kehler, highlighted by a state record 48 straight games without a loss. Yet in the midst of that streak, the 1971-72 varsity boys basketball team briefly stole the spotlight from their football classmates while accomplishing something that no other WHS hoops team has ever done, either before or since. In a ball with no points, a member of that team recalls a basketball journey, life lessons learned along the way, and one very special season a half century ago.

For anyone who has ever stepped onto a basketball court, played high school sports, or dreamed of being a champion, there is something in this book for you. A ball with no points examines the many facets of basketball familiar to many, as well as a fairy tale season enjoyed by precious few.

a ball with no points

Join Stephen D. Reddy on an underdog’s journey in a ball with no points. In the football town of Westfield, NJ, no one thought that the Westfield High School boys basketball team would conquer a state championship between 1971-1972. But they did, unknowingly becoming inspirations to the people of Westfield. Now, 50 years after that magical season, Stephen D. Reddy, the starting guard of the “Westfield High’s Faceless Five,” recounts the story of what has been heralded as “one of the most remarkable Cinderella Stories ever written,” and in so doing, makes their inspirational story available to the whole world.

In line with his underdog roots, Reddy chose to tell this uplifting story in a conversational tone. There are some passages that feel as though you’re in a bar sharing a beer with Reddy as he recounts what happened. As you follow the long winding narrative to its climax, it even feels like you were there as it happened. This gives the book an intimacy that makes you want to stay and hear the whole story.

This inspiring book is centered around basketball, but at the core, it is a story about underdogs. Anyone who has ever needed to rise up to an occasion despite difficult circumstances will know the feeling that Reddy and his team went through, whether or not you have ever stepped foot on a basketball court.

There are passages where Reddy dives deep into the sport, explaining the game to those that may not know the ins and outs of basketball. There are even a couple of paragraphs where he describes, in detail, an exercise or drill that helps him master his dribbling. Die-hard basketball fans will enjoy reading this, and those new to the sport will find it educational.

A ball with no points is a well written sport-themed memoir. Readers who are deep within its world, especially those who witnessed the season, will find great nostalgia in reading this book. Those that enjoy reading about the history of sports and basketball will find this to be an engaging story.

Pages: 388 | ASIN : B09QD5G7CS

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The Fall of 1972

The Fall of 1972: A season for the Perfect Storm (The Story of a Dream Season), by writers Dr. Randy White and Michael Valentino, is a powerful account of a historical time period when the game of basketball reshaped the course of life for many at the Sam Houston State University. This book is a standalone manifesto of the then Sam Houston University’s basketball squad and how the Bearkats made history as the NAIA Champion. The Bearkat’s journey from early recruiting to winning a title in the fall of 1972-73 is extraordinary.

Dr. White and Valentino give a full spectrum of information regarding this so-called storm created by the Bearkats. The beginning of the book gives readers a brief overview of the game of basketball and its situation in the South, especially with African American basketball players. How the coaching staff recruited such a talented group of young players from all over the country and how the team charged ahead to bring the perfect storm is beautifully portrayed.

This book can be an excellent read for any sports enthusiast, especially basketball fans. This book flows at a good pace with organized chapters and simple language. The interview chapters give readers an in-depth look at things and how the people felt as history was being made. The authors are successful in showing a bird’s eye’s view of the spectacular victory of Bearkats with so much authenticity and passion. Reading about the players, their hard work, and how they played as a team for the love of the game is beautiful. In addition, the authors have given a good introduction of everyone involved in the 1972/73 Bearkats team with photographs and their whereabouts.

The Fall of 1972: A season for the Perfect Storm (The Story of a Dream Season) is a beautiful memoir of the grit and grind of the young players of Sam Houston State University. This inspirational story tells how they paved their way to success for their team and for many generations of basketball players to come. This is a memoir that I highly recommend.

Pages: 126 | ISBN : 149316922X

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Feeling the Pressure

Bob Moseley Author Interview

Bob Moseley Author Interview

Choker follows Mark as he grapples with the pressures of high school along with the pressures of sports and family. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

I was always fascinated with the idea of “choking” in sports or feeling the pressure. It can be extremely burdensome for any athlete. I set out to write an authentic sports book that captures the true feelings and thoughts of young athletes.

Mark is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character?

I wanted to portray a young athlete who comes face to face with his worst nightmare while playing the sport he loves but eventually overcomes the stigma through perseverance and summoning the courage to be different. As a biracial boy in a suburban high school Mark feels like an outcast at school for several reasons, and like so many of us, he just wants to fit in.

There were some very specific sports details in this book that made this book realistic. Did you use anything from your own life in this book?

Hah! Some people jokingly wonder if it’s an autobiography. I did miss a free throw once that may have cost my high school team a game, and I was broken up for weeks. No athlete wants to be known as someone who buckles under pressure. But my background as both a high school and college athlete, plus years as a sportswriter, helped lend authenticity to the novel.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

Nothing planned right now. “Choker” is my second book, following national-award winner “Out of Bounds.” I’m trying to build my brand as a YA sports author.

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Choker by [Moseley, Bob]

Be careful of what you wish for. Sixteen-year-old Mark Chamberlain always dreamed of playing in a state championship basketball game. But he never envisioned a nightmare performance that would bring utter humiliation and scar him as an outcast at school.

Classmates begin to call Mark “Wilt” Chamberlain because he melts under pressure.To top it off, Mark’s father won’t come to his games. When it feels as though the world is against him, with the support of a beautiful girl, Mark tries to summon the inner strength and courage to be different — just like legendary basketball star Wilt Chamberlain.

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