Black Ball : Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, And The Generation That Saved The Soul Of The Nba by Theresa Runstedtler
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A vital narrative history of professional basketball in the 1970s, Black Ball explores the impact of Black players on the NBA and challenges misconceptions about this era. As the nation grappled with racial issues and demands for Black Power, the NBA became a symbol of the imagined chaos in America.
During this time, a new generation of Black athletes, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Spencer Haywood, joined the league. However, they faced backlash from the media and public, who blamed them for the perceived decline of the sport, pointing to issues such as drugs, violence, and greed.
Black Ball, written by scholar Theresa Runstedtler, provides a compelling historical account, correcting the narrative of basketball’s “Dark Ages.” Combining a deep understanding of the game with insightful social analysis, Runstedtler argues that this period was crucial in shaping the modern NBA.
Black players brought their unique improvisational style, honed on neighborhood playground courts, to the professional stage. They also challenged the autocratic power of team owners, demanding higher salaries and greater agency. Their skills, distinct style, and business acumen laid the groundwork for the league’s global popularity and financial success it enjoys today.