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).
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.
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.