The fact that Jerry West writes that Paddy on the Hardwood is “the best sports book I’ve read in a long while” is pretty much all you need to know about this book. Who am I to argue with Logo? Luckily, no arguments are coming from this corner – this is a great book.
First, a little bit about the author. Rus Bradburd was an assistant basketball coach at UTEP and New Mexico State for 14 years. He “discovered” Chicago prep star Tim Hardaway and brought him in to play at UTEP. The grind of the job eventually took its toll and Bradburd quit to become a writer and planned on forgetting hoops for a while. The plan to go to Ireland to write, fiddle and coach a little basketball on the side goes awry when basketball once again takes over.
Before we go any further, let me reiterate that I mentioned fiddling earlier. Yes, this book is almost as much about fiddling and traditional Irish music as it is about hoops. The beauty of it is Bradburd is able to link it all together so it all makes perfect sense, despite the fact that you would never in your wildest dreams think of basketball and playing the fiddle associated in any way.
The book also makes a North American reader realize that as a hoops fan they are blessed to live where they do. Bradburd coaches two season in the Irish Super League, which technically is a professional basketball league. However, as the reader discovers, “professional basketball league” has a different meaning in Ireland than it does across the pond. Players are paid peanuts, or less; barely any practice time exists, players quit and join teams at the drop of a hat, there are no free shoes given to players and even having a gym to play in when game time rolls around isn’t guaranteed. Despite these facts CHN readers may recognize some names in the book of former NCAA stars toiling away in these conditions. It is also in this environment that Coach Bradburd gets his hoops groove back.
One of the main things that this book illustrates is that “once a hoops junkie, always a hoop junkie”. You can even go to a virtual basketball outpost like Ireland and you won’t be able to shake your addiction. So if you are craving a fix, grab Paddy on the Hardwood. You wouldn’t want to disagree with Mr. West now would you?
- 4 out of 5 stars -
Paddy on the Hardwood
by Rus Bradburd
University of New Mexico Press