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"Can I Keep My Jersey"

Paul Shirley is two inches short of seven feet tall.

This is not the only reason he's been playing professional basketball since he graduated from college four years ago, but it is, as they say, among 'em.

Shirley has never played a full season for any pro team, though he did sit on the bench for the Phoenix Suns for several months during 2005-2006. His career has included stints with three other N.B.A. teams, though for two of them he never made it out of the pre-season. He's also played in Greece, Spain, and Russia. In the latter venue, he renegotiated his contract every week or so, then finally decided that there wasn't enough money in the entire country to keep him there any longer.

Shirley's book about his peripatetic basketball career is sometimes cranky, but that's okay because it's often funny. Commissioner Stern won't like it, because Shirley, who's a reasonably thoughtful man with a dry sense of humor, maintains convincingly that most of the players in the N.B.A. are thoughtless clods with no sense of anything.

"Can I Keep My Jersey" is not a book for young fans who wish to cling to their illusions about pro basketball players, but it's an entertaining read for anybody who's moved beyond that stunted perspective.

This program aired on May 31, 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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