With the arrival of May and the eighth year of “The Guy Who Reviews Sports Books”, I am announcing a slightly streamlined format. I have broken these posts into sections with various bits of information on the book. Starting with this review, the posts will consist only of the title of the book, the cover and the review. At the bottom of the review there will still be a link where the information that was in the post can now be easily found by those wishing to learn more information. So, with that, here is the review of my latest book
TITLE: “Boxed Out of the NBA” by Syl Solbe and Jay Rosenstein
Long before there was the G-league that operates as the NBA’s developmental league and even before the ABA that existed from 1967 to 1976, there was the Eastern League for players who for one reason or another, could not play in the NBA. This book provides an entertaining look at that league that served as not only a de-facto minor league when NBA teams provided players but also as the only avenue in which some players could show off their basketball talent.
The authors, Syl Solbe and Jay Rosentstein, grew up in Pennsylvania watching games from this league and their book waxes nostalgic when writing about the teams, players and coaches. At times, there are even names mentioned who would be familiar to even casual basketball fans today, such as Jim Boeheim and John Chaney, two legendary college coaches who had success as players in the league.
It must be noted that the league was based mainly in Pennsylvania and as a result, there was a lot of bus travel and games were limited to weekend because like many other players in all of sports at the time, they had to have a primary job in order to provide a living income. But that didn’t detour these players and coaches, many of whom had fond memories that they shared with the authors that makes the book a fun read. The most depressing part is certainly from the Black players who talk about the quotas in the NBA at that time that teams would place on the number of Black players they could employ and some of the other aspects of “Black” basketball that were believed to be bad for the sport. Given the chance to prove these critics wrong in the Eastern League, they wowed both colleagues and spectators alike.
Like most leagues, the lack of funding led to the end of the league, which lasted much longer than anyone had anticipated and even was able to compete with both the NBA and ABA for players in its last seasons to keep on playing. Readers who have not heard of this league, such as this reviewer, will thoroughly enjoy learning about this basketball league that entertained fans for a few decades in the Northeastern United States.
I wish to thank Rowman and Littlefield for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.