MORE THAN JUST A GAME

Today, the ubiquity of Black and brown faces on basketball courts can be easily taken for granted, but the origins of the sport looked noticeably different when James Naismith purportedly first invented the game in 1891. Moore’s succinct and musical prose pairs well with Ollivierre’s dynamic, movement-focused illustrations to outline a rich history of the sport’s growth in popularity due to the unique circumstances of the early 20th century. Big-city dance halls and ballrooms provided a perfect venue for Black participation in a sport that had previously been exclusive to Whites-only colleges and gymnasiums; a Chicago team was even named after the Savoy Ballroom, where it played. Before it wraps up with the NBA’s transition into an integrated league with the year of its formation in 1949, this book does an excellent job of celebrating the legacies of a few of the Black players, teams, and contributors to the early days of basketball. Readers will appreciate the connections drawn to the sport today, and if they look closely, they may even see some familiar faces in the art.

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