I haven’t been writing much here lately, partly due to the off-season quietly simmering away, more time devoted to watching Aussie Rules, and putting in extra hours at work to make up for all the unproductive ones during the NBA playoffs. In fact, my year can pretty much be divided into two parts:

1) November – June: Being completely engrossed in the NBA, constantly distracted at work, late nights spent blogging and catching up on all the latest juice, spending a good chunk of my weekends watching live games and the week’s highlights.

2) July – October: Attention shifts to the AFL (that’s Aussie Rules for the uninitiated), start getting better feedback from my managers at work (no coincidence), nights spent wondering what to do and reading books that had gathered dust on my shelf all year, spending a good chunk of my weekends watching footy and reading the sports sections in every paper.

In short, July-October is my R&R time, so you’ll excuse me if the NBAMate updates aren’t coming as thick and fast as I would like. As such, I thought the least I could do is direct you to some other sources of entertainment to satisfy your NBA cravings. No, not other blogs, but good old fashioned books. Remember those? The things with paper pages with words on them?

The first is the Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac by Free Darko, a must-read for any fans of their blog, and a must-read for any NBA lover in general. The book has all the hallmarks of that inimitable Free Darko style in extended form, focused on the stars and true characters of the league we love. But it’s more than that. It’s statistical analysis so out-of-left-field yet so resonant that you’ll spend just as much time glued to the pages as you do wondering what herbal jazz cigarettes the FD crew are smoking. Ever wondered if the Fibonacci sequence can be used to predict Tim Duncan’s numbers? Or what jersey to wear to a Bar Mitzvah? Or how long it would have taken 50,000 Leandro Barbosas to build the pyramids? Or how Chris Paul’s points average relates to Switzerland’s GDP? These questions are actually answered in this book.

Simply put, I don’t know if I can ever do justice in analyzing the games and minds of Kobe, Duncan, Arenas, McGrady, Artest, Amare, Sheed and Yao, having now read this book. And that’s just a smattering of them. You won’t just find summaries of each player’s career and key attributes – you’ll get thought provoking and trail-blazing poetry on what makes these guys tick, and why we care about them so much.

There are certain NBA fans I know who desperately need this book prescribed by their doctor. These are the fans that think pro basketball is “22 pts, 6 reb, 4 ass” to quote the back cover. The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac is a healthy reality check – well, more like a giant slap in the face – to remind us why the NBA is so damn great. It’s a fantastic read, it looks amazing (you can actually order the home-grown illustrations as posters from the FD website), and it’s also somewhat inspiring to know that a bunch of dudes who write a blog can put together such a polished piece of work. Buy this book. It’s good.

The other book that landed in my magic parcel from Amazon is Men With Balls – The Professional Athlete’s Handbook, written by Drew Magary (cofounder of Kissing Suzy Kolber). The irony of course is that Magary is NOT a professional athlete at all, but that doesn’t stop him dispensing almost 300 pages worth of “utterly useless, 100% fake advice from the pros”, as the tagline goes. Advice includes who to bring to draft night, the art of showboating (including instructions for executing “The Staggering Penis”), unwritten rules for the locker room (rule 5: no wife-swapping until after midseason), the effects of drugs, the art of the comeback, and much much more.

Also included are some notes on what to expect if you’re an international player, including this amusing observation of Australians: “Seriously, milk that accent for all it’s worth… See, Australians are exotic enough to entice American women while also providing the comfort of being just as lazy and obnoxious as American men. Best of all, you live a hemisphere away. If you dump an American woman, the flight to Sydney is too long and expensive for her to stalk you. Bonus points if you live in Perth. That place is farther away than Andromeda”.

This is without doubt the funniest book I’ve ever read, and the only book I’ve ever read that repeatedly made me laugh out loud. This of course is extremely awkward when you’re on the train, and you can’t exactly share with your work colleagues the fact you just learnt a sexual maneuver called the “Phil Mickelson”. Because apart from being the funniest book I’ve ever read, it is also perhaps the most perverted and disturbing… in a funny kind of way. I don’t know how Drew Magary lives with himself, but I damn well salute you sir for writing this book. Tremendous.

Any other good sports books people have read lately? Always keen for good book suggestions. Well, at least between July and October.

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