SLAM DUNK The true Story of Basketball’s First Olympic Gold Medal Team assumed published, copyright and written by Beth Fortenberry,
The book’s format is a bit unusual in that directly upon opening it, the reader is presented with a note from Carter DeHaven, producer of ‘Hoosiers’, stating “Soon to be a major motion picture”; then the book title/author pages; a picture of Joe Fortenberry, the Slam Dunk originator, finishing such a shot in the 1936 Olympics; a dedication page; Table of Contents; Praise of Slam Dunk by DeHaven; acknowledgements; and ultimately a prologue followed with 32 chapters and abundant reference material. The narrative describes and follows the life of James Naismith, the husky young Canadian-American graduate theologian, who invented the game while attempting to devise a game to keep athletes fit while in the employ of Dr. Luther Gulick who was charged with preparing teachers-in-training so they could be instructors and coaches in the Y.M.C.A.’s throughout the world. From this simple beginning in the late 1800’s the story unfolds the early beginnings of this game, the people who played and developed it, and how it was brought into the 1936 Olympics. Here, the group that included some prominent Jewish team members, along with the thrilling field athletics’ black Jesse Owens, walked off with their respective golds to effectively destroy Adolf Hitler’s desire to demonstrate to the world the supremacy of the Aryan race.
Discussion: The author has provided a gold mine for readers interested in the historical background of sports. Not only has she disclosed little known facts about the origin of basketball and details of the players involved in these early endeavors – Fortenberry, “Tex” Gibbons, ball hawk Francis Johnson, Sam Balter, the first of the Jews on the Olympic team and others, but has included largely unknown or often overlooked features of prominent people associated with the Olympics and other sports; e.g. coach Jimmy Needles, Phog Allen, Gene Johnson, the mercurial Olympic politician Avery Brundage, Maude Sherman Naismith organizer of the first women’s basketball team as well as earlier having devised the first usable football helmet noted by Amos Alonzo Stagg (the legendary football player/coach long association with the Y.M.C.A.). The descriptions of Hitler and Goebbels activities and that of the German people of the era are most appropriately portrayed. In all, this is an interesting book and must read for sports aficionados.
5* Interesting for all; a must read for sports enthusiasts.