This book analyzes career narratives of selected prominent NBA players after the Michael Jordan era, understood as the time after his second retirement in January 1999. It was a pivotal time for the league, as Jordan became synonymous with NBA basketball and the face of its global expansion. The players discussed in the book have been selected because of the significance of their career narratives, as all of them correspond with certain archetypes, prevalent in the world of not only professional basketball, but professional sports in general. The private and public personas of eight players as well as their depiction by the media are analyzed not only regarding their success on the basketball court, but also in light of what they have come to represent for the modern NBA. The players discussed in this book are Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Vin Baker, Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, and Kobe Bryant. Collectively, these eight players embody the distinguishing character profiles and career arcs of sports superstars with dominance, individualism, and athleticism being as much a part of sports star culture as egotism, injuries, boredom, addiction, and bankruptcy.
Łukasz Muniowski holds a PhD in American Literature from the University of Warsaw and is the author of Three-Pointer! A 40-Year NBA History.
Chapter One. Michael Jordan and the Creation of the Modern NBA
Chapter Two. Shaquille O’Neal: Black Superman
Chapter Three. Alonzo Mourning: The Player with a Mission
Chapter Four. Vin Baker: The Downfall and Rebirth of the Alcoholic Athlete
Chapter Five. Allen Iverson: Celebrity and the Event
Chapter Six. Antoine Walker: Overconfident or Asshole?
Chapter Seven. Steve Nash: The “Unlikely” Hero
Chapter Eight. Tim Duncan: The Boredom of Excellence
Chapter Nine. Kobe Bryant: Personification of the Spectacle
About the Author
Narrating the NBA is an insightful and dynamic study of the NBA’s rich mythology, which traces the career narratives of many of the league’s most iconic players. Dr. Muniowski effectively demonstrates how individual athletes are transformed into mythical figures by showing how these narratives inform players’ careers, lives, and legacies. By unpacking the archetypal associations of basketball’s biggest athlete-celebrities, he reveals the complex tension between sport biographies and biofictions. This is a fascinating read, for both sport scholars and fans of the game.
This is a fascinating collection of studies of the career narratives of nine leading NBA players, including Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant, each of them chosen because they represent archetypes that are prevalent not only in the world of professional basketball but also in professional sport more generally. This book is both a labor of love and a highly significant contribution to academic debates about sports celebrity. It will also be read avidly by countless NBA fans from Chicago to Chongqing, Madrid to Manila.