Bob Knows Basketball | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

Bob Knows Basketball 

A Press Release We Didn't Have to Read in 1990--but Wait Till Next Year

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For immediate release:

The Pudnam Publishing Company announces for summer 1991 Johnny Deadline, Sportswriter: My Season With the Other Michael, Bob Greene's astute analysis of the American game. Our nation's most thoughtful daily-newspaper feature-section page-one left-hand-side columnist takes a long and devoted look at the cagers who play on the hardwood, focusing on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The material is drawn from his daily columns, but with major additions, as follows:

In chapter one, "The Other Michael," Bob ponders why it is that blacks seem drawn to the entertainment fields, deciding, "Let's just be glad they are--as long as we accept them each as individuals." He reasons there's only one thing that could make Michael Jordan even greater: "If his name was Elvis Jordan."

In chapter two, "The Names," Bob makes public what the Bulls really call each other--"Pax," "Scottie," "Horace," "Michael"--and uses the occasion to deny rumors that he's known on the copy desk as "Old Raisin Thumb."

In chapter three, "The Tactics Behind the Charm," Bob talks with the Bulls beat writer from the Arlington Heights Herald and passes on the team's deepest secret strategies: "On defense, they stick to a box-and-one zone or its complicated offshoot, the Ruy Lopez, while the backbone of their offense remains the famous 'Pick 'n' Shovel' play first chalked by basketball's inventor, Dr. Abner Doubleday, during a break in the battle of Antietam."

In chapter four, "A Pair of Classics," Bob finds that the ice below the floor on press row freezes his feet right through the soles of his beloved Bass Weejuns. The same night, with the Bulls down by one, Michael Jordan misses a last-second shot and the Bulls lose, but Bob remains loyal to his favorite shoes and his favorite star, concluding, "I'll never forsake either."

Thoughts of his loafers send Bob into chapter five, "A Loose Pair of Shoes," wherein he examines the Nike boycott and decides, "No shoes are worth being killed for, but some people should just get a life."

Chapter six, "The Inner Sanctum," is a reprint of Bob's famous "B.J. and the Bible" newspaper column, but with an extended and essential amending passage. While interviewing B.J. Armstrong after a game, Bob discovers not only that B.J. can read, but that he went to a Big Ten college and that he carries a Bible in his gym bag. Stacey King responds, "Hey, that's nothing, look at this Bob," and, pulling a copy of Good Morning, Merry Sunshine from his gym bag, says, "I use the pages to clean my kid's ass when we're out of diaper wipes." The raucous laughter sends Bob back to his high school diary for other instances of locker-room camaraderie. Bob concludes by stating that he's never so enjoyed being the butt of a joke, although he feels obliged to point out that Stacey went to the University of Oklahoma.

In chapter seven, "Mr. Chicago Sports?", Bob takes a long look at courtside announcer Chet Coppock before admitting he "can't see the appeal of someone who's such a parody of himself."

In chapter eight, "The Flight," Bob joins the Bulls on their chartered plane for an away game in Milwaukee, but breaks into a cold sweat when he discovers that without a stewardess or anyone sitting next to him, there's no one to talk to. This is the longest chapter in the book, and it's vintage Bob.

In chapter nine, "Coach," Bob dissects the role of coach Phil Jackson and finds that "although his suspenders are very snappy, no one seems to know what it is he does around here."

In chapter ten, "The Fans," Bob discovers that the fans who sit in Section X of the upper balcony of the Chicago Stadium have come up with their own risque lyrics to the Bulls' theme song, "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)"--"But I can't repeat them here," Bob confesses, "not even in a book." Collectors should note that he promises to include the lyrics in an appendix to the paperback edition.

An additional three chapters are planned, with publication set for exactly three weeks after the Bulls' final game, whenever that may be. In fact, championship or not, Bob says he's already written the final sentence:

"Michael smiled, then he rolled up the window and drove away."

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