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A brilliant, entertaining deconstruction of basketball, drawing on the expertise of board-game creators, magicians, therapists, and more
Basketball is the second-most popular sport in the world—an insanely complicated game built on a combination of athleticism, craftiness, rules, intangibles, and superstardom. However, while it’s enjoyable to watch, the real reason it works is because it’s a game of culture, art, and all the things that make us human. How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius deconstructs the sport from top to bottom and then puts it back together again, detailing its intricacies through reporting and dozens of interviews with experts. These experts, however, are a diverse group: wine critics weighing in on LeBron’s ability to delegate on the fly, magicians analyzing Chris Paul’s mystifying dribbling techniques, cartographers breaking down Steph Curry’s deadeye three-point shooting. Every chapter treats basketball to a multi-disciplined study that adventures far beyond the lines of the court, examining key elements of the sport from some surprising and revealing angles. There’s a reason it has conquered the world, and every game is a chance to learn about pop culture, fashion, history, science, art, and anything else that bounces our way.
Nick Greene is a contributing writer for Slate, prior to which he worked as editor at large at Mental Floss and as web editor at the Village Voice. His work has been published in Vice, Men’s Health, and Chicago Magazine. He lives in Oakland, California.