Big Game, Small World
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Where Are They Now?

Here’s a quick update on the turns in the lives of several of the most intriguing personalities in Big Game, Small World:

The Los Angeles Clippers made former Peoria high-school star and Duke signee Shaun Livingston their No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and the fourth player chosen overall . . . Shaun, whom Big Game readers met as a 5’9”, 110-pound seventh-grader, had blossomed into a 6’7”, 186-pound 18-year-old by Draft Day . . . In July 2004 the Toronto Raptors hired former Pekaes Pruszkow coach Mike McCollow as their assistant director of players development and director of video scouting . . . Ivory Coast product Mike Lasme, the sensation of the 1999 African Championships in Angola, decided in July 2004 to leave Colorado, where he had sat out the 2003-04 season after transferring from Massachusetts as the Atlantic 10 Newcomer of the Year . . . Citing the financial needs of his family back in Abidjan, Mike signed a professional contract with Figueira Ginasio of Portugal’s first division . . . The other star of the chapter on Africa, irrepressible American talent scout Rob Orellana, in 2003 left an assistant coaching position at Cal State-Fullerton to pursue his dream of creating a basketball academy for promising talent in Africa, South America and the Caribbean . . . Rob-O’s Arona Basket Sur Academy, in Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, was featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2004 series on globalization in sports.

The Paperback: “New and Noteworthy”

The November 23, 2003 issue of The New York Times Book Review highlights Big Game, Small World as a “New and Noteworthy” paperback.

The trade paperback retails for $15.95 in the U.S., $23.95 in Canada. To order, click on one of the links to online booksellers at right, or contact your local bookstore.

Alert readers will notice that the silhouetted airplane, dropped in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 (see below), has returned to the cover.

SI, 12.16.02
SI’S Top 100 Includes Big Game

The editors of Sports Illustrated include Big Game, Small World in their list of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, published in SI’s Dec. 16, 2002 issue. Big Game checks in at No. 69, and shares company with such hoops tomes as A Season on the Brink, Loose Balls, Heaven Is a Playground, The Breaks of the Game, The City Game, and The Last Shot.

Big Game Makes “Best Of” Lists

In their survey of the best books of 2002, published in the November/December issue, the editors of Book magazine honor Big Game, Small World as one of the year’s finest sports books. Big Game shares mention with John Feinstein’s The Punch, David Winner’s Brilliant Orange, and the anthologies Yankees Century and The Gospel According to ESPN. And the New York Times Book Review, in its December 8 issue, cites Big Game as a 2002 Notable Book. It’s one of 145 non-fiction titles chosen and the lone sports book on the list.

At the Worlds, the World Gets its Moment

2002 World Basketball ChampionshipsThe news from the 2002 World Basketball Championship in Indianapolis wasn’t good for the U.S., which lost to Argentina, Yugoslavia and Spain en route to a sixth-place finish. But the Americans’ vanquishers, plus surprising Germany and New Zealand, will forever point to Indy as a milepost in their development. And I’ll regard the tournament as sounding a clarion call for the American basketball community to take off its blinders and adopt what’s best in the international game, as people around the world have been doing for years with the American style.

In Indy, several themes from Big Game, Small World reprised themselves, but none was more gratifying to me than the performance by Yugoslavia, with center Vlade Divac and coach Svetislav Pesic. Each added a World title to the Junior World crown they won together in Bormio, Italy, 15 years earlier, an achievement featured in Chapter Seven and in the nine-minute documentary you can view by clicking here. If the Yugos benefited from a couple of non-calls at the end of regulation time in the title game with Argentina, they honored their victory as a pure basketball triumph: On the podium, not one of them raised the three-fingered salute.

To read more thoughts on the Worlds, in The Hoop Life columns I filed from Indy to, click here.

... And Non-Yanks Continue Their Rise at Athens Olympics

The Worlds turned out only to be the beginning. During the 2004 Olympics and the run-up to those Games, Italy, Puerto Rico, Lithuania and Argentina all beat another team of NBA Americans—meaning that, over three summers, the national teams of six different countries had each vanquished an all-star team of U.S. pros, each in its own particular way.

For thoughts on the implications of these developments, posted on, click here

Global Hoops Vogue Gets
Spotlight on Slate, in NYT

With the Sacramento Kings and their three non American contributors making noise in the NBA Playoffs, I addressed the internationalization of hoops in a couple of places: in’s “The Breakfast Table,” which I shared with NPR commentator and Esquire writer Charlie Pierce during the week of May 23, 2002 (to read our exchanges, click here); and on the op-ed page of the New York Times on May 31, 2002 (to read my piece, “International Hoops,” click here).

Author Addresses Ivy
Basketball Alumni Challenge

Mitch HendersonOn Saturday, April 13, 2002, I spoke to more than 100 former Ivy League basketball players, men and women, who had gathered at Manhattan’s Basketball City for the third annual Ivy League Alumni Basketball Challenge. Before Yale had won the men’s division, and Brown had salted away the women’s, former Princeton star and current Northwestern assistant coach Mitch Henderson chatted up the author (right) and erstwhile Sports Illustrated editor Paul Witteman.

Those who have read Big Game, Small World know that Henderson threw the pass that prodded me to take my trip. Several weeks after playing for the Princeton Alums, he would suit up in Chicago as one of the practice players who worked out Yao Ming, the 7’5" Chinese center featured in Chapter 17, for the benefit of NBA scouts.

For more information about the Ivy League Alumni Basketball Challenge and similar events, click here.

BGSW Featured on Public Radio

The Public Radio International show The World, coproduced by the BBC World Service and WGBH in Boston, broadcast a segment about Big Game, Small World on April 1, 2002. To hear correspondent Clark Boyd’s report, click here. Meanwhile, on March 2, I spoke about the book with host Bill Littlefield on National Public Radio’s Only A Game.
To listen to archived audio, click here.

BGSW Launch PartyBGSW Launch Party Raises
Funds for Vanderbilt Y

On January 30, 2002, the Vanderbilt YMCA in Manhattan welcomed more than 100 guests to celebrate the publication of Big Game, Small World and raise money for a good cause. Warner Books graciously donated copies, and by the end of the evening attendees had bought up the entire allotment, thereby raising some $2,500 for the Vanderbilt Y Scholarship Fund. To view paparazzi shots from the event, click here.

Plane Cover
Big Game, Fragile World

Big Game, Small World was already in production on September 11, 2001. Thus the fallout from the events of that day aren’t accounted for in the book. But Warner Books did decide to change the original cover, which is pictured here. And in light of one theme of the book—that basketball has the potential to further international understanding—I’ve given some thought to the role of the game in a post-9/11 world. To read more, click here.

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