Monday, February 6, 2012

In Your Face

It was first published in 1980. I found a paperback edition on a shelf in B. Dalton's around 1985.

If you read it today, it would probably seem as dated as a Dolph Schayes two-handed set shot. Even the title sounds ridiculous.

But The In-Your-Face Basketball Book changed my life when I read it, and I still consider it one of the 10 or 12 books that will stay with me forever.

It was a joyful exploration of streetball culture complete with essential playground terms, bios of schoolyard legends, and best of all, a travel guide to the best pickup spots across the land.

It stressed style and swagger over structure and fundamentals. It was sloppy and obnoxious and full of life.

It even contained a photo of the court I played on (6th Avenue and Houston Street, NYC).


For a 16 year-old kid who was struggling to figure out life and trying to find his game at the same time, it was thrilling. It was a call to action. It taught me that all a man needed in this world was a duffel bag in the trunk of his car, stuffed with his rock and his kicks.

It was everything good about Heaven is a Playground, The City Game, and The Basketball Diaries, mixed with the sense of freedom and romance of a great road novel.

My friends and I passed it around a few times, and somebody (not me) screwed up and lost it at some point. I never found another copy.  
 
But I never stopped wanting to do what the book told me I could do: toss my stuff in the car and head out looking for a game somewhere.

But I never got a car -- until this year, maybe a month before my 42nd birthday. Now, just about every weekend, I drive around L.A. alone, looking for a game, trying to find the perfect court.

I've played on about half a dozen so far, and the experience has been every bit as satisfying as I always hoped it'd be.

IN.

YOUR.

FACE.

I'm sure there's a newer way to say it, but I don't know if there's a better way.

Just ask Tim Hardaway.

Sounds about right.

EDIT: Reunited and it feels so good.

95 comments:

Benge said...

I think I might still have my copy. And I'm curious, what are the other 10 or so books that will stay with you forever.

Anonymous said...

bungle making a comeback! (basketball- and webwise)
pbdotc

Anonymous said...

where did you find it? who sent it? i thought your copy might be on a bookshelf at home.
- deion

hans q. bungle said...

Ordered it off Amazon...but I like the semi-confession.

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