The full title of Shea Serrano’s new book is, “Basketball (And Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated”, and it lives up to its long title. Serrano’s first couple of books dealt with rap, but in this one he dives deep into his other love, basketball, particularly the NBA. The San Antonio native (let’s go!) has grown to fame due to his hilarious Twitter account and entertaining writing style. He is now a staff writer at The Ringer.
BAOT, as I will call it for the remainder of this piece, was broken up into 33 chapters, all centered on answering a different question. Although, some of the questions took more than one chapter to answer so it isn’t technically 33 questions answered, if that makes sense. A lot of the questions had to do with the history of the NBA and some of the hypotheticals typical NBA diehards argue about, like, “Which NBA Player’s Legacy Is Most Greatly Affected If We Give Him the Championship He Never Won?” or “What’s the Most Important NBA Championship?” Others are a little sillier like, “If 1997 Karl Malone and a Bear Swapped Places for a Season, Who Would Be More Successful?” and would just be dumb in the wrong hands, but Shea makes them work.
All of the illustrations in the book, and there are many, are done by Arturo Torres. Some of the illustrations are gorgeous and some are hilarious, perfectly corresponding with the words on the pages. For example, one is of Dominique Wilkins dunking on Jesus Christ.
BAOT is very easy to read, with the 33 chapters making it super digestible. Serrano notes in the intro that you don’t have to read them all or read them in order for the book to make sense, and that is true. I am a teacher/coach and I brought my copy to school, reading chunks of it at a time during off periods. If you buy the book at Barnes and Noble you even get four illustrated basketball cards of fictional basketball players.
Sometimes after reading a book I think about whom I would recommend it to. I definitely did that with this book and found myself thinking of a lot of different people. I’m an NBA junkie to the core, and obviously love the history of the game, so those are the chapters I loved the most. I also have to say, Serrano really did his research. He clearly did deep dives into a bunch of these topics and none of them feel surface level. So for a junkie, this is an excellent read, but I don’t want to limit my praise to that. Some of the sillier/out there chapters aren’t totally my cup of tea, but for someone else they might find them to be their favorite in the book. My point is, really any basketball fan could find something in there to resonate with their sensibilities. Go get this book; you’ll be happy you did.