Cover image for We came to play! : writings on basketball
We came to play! : writings on basketball
Ross, John, 1938 March 11-
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : North Atlantic Books, [1996]

Physical Description:
xxxv, 281 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV885 .W387 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Setting their literary picks with the elegance of the Pearl, point guard Ross and off guard Hand have spun a masterpiece. Their roster includes some bona-fide all-stars, more than a few hall-of-famers (plus a certain ringer of two): Bill Cosby, John Updike, Jim Carroll, John R. Tunis, Tom Meschery, Roy Blount, Jr., Yusef Komunyakaa, Stanley Cohen, Susan Orlean, Madeleine Blaise, Jeremy Larner, Bill Russell, Rick Telander, Pete Axthelm, John McPhee, John Edgar Wideman, William Matthews, Woody Allen, Bill Bradley, Quincy Troupe, Al Attles, Gino Sky, John Valenti, Stephen Dunn, and many others. Hand and Ross tip their hats to Daniel Rudman whose earlier North Atlantic anthology, Take it to the Hoop, lit the way.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Though basketball doesn't engender the extensive literary output that baseball does, it is the subject of enough high-quality writing to merit an anthology every few years. A partial list of contributors attests to the quality here: Woody Allen, Roy Blount Jr., Bill Cosby, Jeremy Larner, John McPhee, Rick Telander, John Feinstein, and John Updike. Highlights include an excerpt from Larner's near-forgotten classic "Drive, He Said" ; Woody Allen's oft-reprinted ode to Earl Monroe; an excerpt from Bill Bradley's Life on the Run, the best-ever journal of life as a pro athlete; and an excerpt from Telander's Heaven Is a Playground. Former NBA enforcer Tom Meschery contributes four poems, including his unforgettable ode to longtime nemesis Bill Russell, which begins, "I have never seen an eagle with a beard." If there's a criticism, it's that the editors do not provide any context for the selections or any biographical information on the contributors. Still, this is an excellent selection for most general sports collections. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, this is a must for any basketball enthusiast or sports fan, period. We Came to Play is a collection of more than 60 stories, essays, articles and poems that straight up talk roundball. The pieces range from short journalistic articles on kids such as Stephon Marbury and Felipe Lopez, written before anyone knew who they were, to longer, thoughtful literary works by such diverse voices as John Edgar Wideman, Bill Russell, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and John Updike. The collective covers the game in all its facets, no matter how small, such as the latest flexi-glass backboard. And if ever there were a testament to the replacement of baseball by basketball as the "nation's game," this book is it. In this setting an excerpt from Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries finds another home and truly comes alive. Though uneven at times and a little bit pretentious in some of its poems, We Came to Play deftly manages to look at the microcosm of basketball through the macrocosm of everyday life. Like jazz, country and rap music, there's something peculiarly gutsy and American about the game, and, boy, does that come out here. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved