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"Taking Shots"

Keith Glass begins Taking Shots by contending that though "basketball used to be a helluva game," "it's not anymore."

His chief objection to the current state of pro basketball is that the players make too much money and the league is too commercial, and beyond those tired criticisms is his feeling that "the game itself has become a selfish, tedious, and colossal bore."

All that business appears on page one of the introduction to Taking Shots, and it would be easy to stop reading right there, especially if you've heard it all before, which you have, unless you've had your hands over your ears.

But though he isn't a great writer or an especially original thinker, Glass has had some intriguing experiences as an agent for N.B.A. players, many of them marginal. As a result, he has some stories to tell, many of which cast him in the role of the principled businessman in the land of snakes and sharks.

The refrain of this book runs something like this: most of the basketball players in this country are spoiled punks who've been taught to feel they are entitled to gigantic salaries and immunity from prosecution. As a result, the teams the U.S. sends to international competitions have been getting hammered by teams of lesser (and less expensive) players who are less selfish and better understand how to play as a team.

Maybe Glass is partially correct, but he seems to be blind to the context in which pro basketball is played. Lots of very rich people, no matter how they became very rich, are spoiled and have been taught to feel entitled. It doesn't matter whether they are basketball players, baseball players, singers, dancers, actors, ceo's, Hollywood honchos, presidents of banks, stock brokers, or sellers of a lot of anything, or the children of any of the above. To isolate pro basketball players for criticism is to misunderstand the most unfortunate ways in which the rich are different from us, whether they are Buchanons or Spreewells.

This program aired on March 22, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield has been the host of Only A Game since the program began in 1993.

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