Saturday, 23 November 2013
BOOK REVIEW-JULIUS ERVING: Dr. J-THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Just What The Doctor Recorded.
Now isn't this just what the doctor ordered? OK, for all you LeBron's and Kobe's out there in this storied NBA history of basketball, the big three of all-time best players has to be Larry, Magic and of course the greatest of all-time, Mike. If you want to look at the most dominant, then look no further than the four horseman of the center position in Shaq, Kareem, Wilt and of course Bill Russell. Now for greatest teams, after the Celtics and Lakers you might look for the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers. Looking at this Sixer franchise when it comes to their greatest players there's the God Wilt again, or Moses, as well as modern day legends like Charles Barkley and the answer of Allen Iverson. Still, even A.I knew-wearing number 6 in the 2000, Philly All-Star game-that when it comes to the greatest Sixer you have to make an appointment. An appointment with a man who was a legend in two games like Pee Wee Kirkland. A man whose Afro stood high, but his converses leapt higher. A man who took off from the lay-up line and revolutionized the art of dunking (and out of bounds, baseline defying lay-ups) before the air of Michael Jordan, complete with the gold necklace. A man who is now soaring from the nets to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. A legend of the city who took the New York Nets from the ABA to the NBA, decades before Jay-Z took them from New Jersey and back to the city in Brooklyn. A man who changed the game and now after several Magic and Bird autobiographies and recent Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson memoirs is ready to release his highly-anticipated, long-awaited book of Basketball. The doctor will see you now.
What a prescription too of humility and honestly from a man who details all his blessings and curses of a rags to millionaire riches in just under a fortune 500 of peeled pages that will keep you turning and turning with vivid colors attracting you like the blue, red and white ball he stuffed through the hoop over and over again. This writer eager for his waited for all year copy, but saving for his own Basketball tour around the U.S.A. found a great deal for an unabridged audiobook. Not normally one for the lazy, 'look ma no hands' feel of listening instead of actually reading, I felt like I was cheating on books. That was until I learnt that this autobiography was narrated by the good doctor himself. In two 6 hour parts, what better way to have his story told to you during a lazy 12 hour Sunday cleaning day, or weeks worth of morning jogging but from the man himself in your company? As quick as you would burnt through this reading, you'll listen and listen through this half a day trip through the game and also American and cultural history. A man who truly propelled this game forwards while putting up with the backwards decades gone time of ignorant racism this man has gone through a lot from the real-world to entertainment. From tragic lows to the most entertaining highs in both love and loss this is life. Set to the soundtrack of his friend Teddy Pendergrass, with some light relief from his idol Bill Cosby. They've always said Basketball was like jazz and the man who improvised an inspirational influence on court from above the air-changing rim knew everyone from Miles (Davis) to Bird (Larry). Still old June doesn't forget where he came from, he knows it's all about family and how what he's learnt, he can pass on to his sons. From being a part of a Sixer side that was the only team to battle both the storied 80's Celtics and Lakers to being in the trenches with his own personal demons and wars, for better to worse this man dribbles his way through the brightest of lights and the darkest of depths that make this read truly his most powerful slam-dunk.
From jumping up and down as a child to see over the window sill, to jumping so high he took his game from the ABA's Virginia Squires to the NBA's legendary Philadelphia 76ers each paragraph starts with a leap. The man certainly knows how to craft a story, just like a career...and this is all real talk. The man who could run the baseline and even rock the cradle, knows how to turn just another sentence into a statement. It's just the art of creation he compares to the artists of music like Marvin, even channeling Gaye's 'Trouble Man' lyrics to the injustice of another night of driving that sees him pulled over by the profiling police. The aid of the soul man's soundtrack hasn't been used this poignantly for the harsh realities of life since Mark Wahlberg's worn drive through the motor city ravaged industry of a fall Detroit in the 'Four Brothers' movie. This instrument of Philadelphia soul combs through any issue in his life, full-blown like his trademark playing days Afro. Asking for no sympathy as he apologies for the wrongs in his life he just wants to write and right, from infidelity to children out of wedlock. Still, when it comes to the finer points of this mans life and career he recognizes his talent but with a refreshing humbleness you wouldn't expect for a man that soared over his professional peers with two handed-flushes and a championship belt to keep his pants even higher. Maybe this is the sort of talk that comes from a man who lost his dear friend and teammate to a plane crash where they could only tragically identify him via his championship ring. A man that has given his all, but lost so much. A man through and through however...that is still here. With a couple of retired jerseys, a Hall Of Fame career, a family, a legend and a legacy. The man who lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and John F. Kennedy, just wants to teach those reading what his college coach instilled in him after a heated, rivaling game, that you don't respond to violence with violence. You respond by being the better, stronger man. A true professional.
The man who witnessed many of America's most defining and major cultural events in history is one himself. Still, behind all the hair and dunks are the statistics and undocumented unrecorded basketball highlights that are told here from the man who grew from being "skinnier than six o'clock". Behind all that is the man who made the incredible top 10 player who redefined the game like no one else before him and helped those Jordan's and Iverson's in his same field or franchise do so after. The Converse pioneer tied up his laces and left it all out on the court, making it look all too easy, but here just like with Jerry West's 'Charmed and Tortured Life' we see what lied beneath that calm soldier on, court demeanor. From the bitterness of divorce to the tragic hands of a fickle fate that even took his sons life at far too young an age. Through all this however Julius has remained strong and resolute, hoping here to both entertain and educate you on life's ups and downs. From short, lump in the mouth chapters to artistically created ones of true storytelling, writing this book is equal parts descriptive and introspective and this is neither good or bad. This is what makes this story, like it's subject truly great. A legendary read that will go down with the best sports scribes like this man goes down as the sports best stars. From the concrete path of the Rucker to the hard-hits to the floor of a real life this man is the genuine article. Recognizing the cruelty of death, but the courage in celebrating life, there's little wonder that this amazing talent rose above it all. As he starts this writing, his "is the American life" and after reading this book from the court to off it you'll see it as one truly "fully lived". If you need any more proof for this read why not read the back cover of this hard-life hardback? No synopsis, just a quote, "when greatness meets class, that's what God created in Dr. J", from who else, but Earvin Johnson, the man who personified Magic. Still, even with his illusions sometimes he and we all need a doctor. TIM DAVID HARVEY.