Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FreeDarko Presents the Macrophenomenal Rockets

My loving girlfriend of what will be four years next week just returned from San Francisco last night with a little surprise. She had brought with her The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac collectively written--a term that may not do the book justice--by the bloggers responsible for FreeDarko.com. It was supposed to be a Christmas stocking stuffer but she couldn't help giving it to me when she came home. It was just then I noticed my brother slinking away to reveal that he, too, had bought me a copy for the holidays. So, now I have two.

I've read Free Darko on and off now for about 3 years--I think that's about how long they've been around. And whether or not you take to their intellectual/philosophical musings or often obscure references to and applied to the game of roundball, this book is worth a look. Sure to become the basketball geek's field guide, the stats are gleefully esoteric and meant to accentuate the centerpiece--detailed, surreal and often very funny psychological profiles of the NBA's stars. And it's all made accessible to even the most visual of learners through beautifully illustrated charts, graphs and a gradually more useful as you go "Periodic Guide to Style."

But what may sway Rockets fans to buy this book is that of the 18 NBA stars worthy of analysis, three of them are current Houston Rockets. Yao Ming, Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady. The FreeDarkans happen to be proponents of T-Mac, in a different kind of way. They have a certain kind of love for every player examined in the book but a special place is reserved for Mac who they subtitle, "Effortless Agony." They aren't apologists for McGrady's failings but rather they don't frame them as failings (they eschew wins and losses as a point of interest). As I've tried to do before in this blog to a lesser extent, they portray McGrady as one of sport's tragic heroes, which is what I've always thought makes him so interesting in a way beyond the typical understanding of the game.

In many respects, Yao and Ron-Ron also need non-traditional viewings from sports fans to really appreciate who they are and what they represent as professional athletes; which is what makes the Rockets so interesting. The Macrophenomenal Almanac gives you a different take on a select few of the NBA's more "interesting" stars (it leaves you wishing for more. And accordingly, perhaps the world's most confounding player, Gilbert Arenas, writes the Foreword.

If this tickles your fancy, you can find several online locations to cop the book at: www.freedarkobook.com.

Yao & T-Mac drawings above (and all drawings in the book) illustrated by Jacob Weinstein, "Big Baby Belafonte" of the Free Darko collective.

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