Basketball Like You’ve Never Seen Before

Slo-Mo! By Rick Reilly

Professional athletes are known for their pension to live the good life. They are also known for the their ability to be prima-donnas and bad boys. In his book Slo-Mo! Rick Reilly plays off of these stigmas effortlessly while telling the story of Maurice "Slo-Mo" Fisternick.

Slo-Mo is a 17-year old aberration. At 7-foot-8 and only 195 pounds, Mo is discovered one day by a traveling Roto-rooter salesman while shooting hook shots outside of his cave in Colorado, the Dorian Spelunkarium. Mo is then led on a journey every young man must face: growing up. In his case, though, it happens to be in the NBA. Maurices' wending road through the rigors of NBA life is written in his diary, which he takes with him everywhere the team travels.

In his undeveloped, remedial writing, the reader can see how Reilly sets up all of the stereotypes and colorful characters that include NBA players both real and imagined. Maurice, who grew up under the watchful eye of the tenets of his cult-like religion, Doorian, is thrown into a foreign world. He¹s lived in the caves since birth, never had television let alone cable, never eaten at McDonalds and never been away from home for more than a few hours.

The reader can identify with Maurice, and see through his misinterpretations and misuses of common slang. Along the story, which covers one NBA season for the fictitious New Jersey's, Maurice sees his star rise and fall, his playing ability questioned and applauded, his fellow players quip and squabble, his coach affect Zen rituals and lose patience and his life come together and fall apart at the drop of a hat.

From the agent trying to make a name for himself, to the sports writers who hound him for information, the story is full of cliches straight out of an Oliver Stone film. But Reilly never overplays the fact that the reader is privy to this. He shadows the underlying theme of professional sports as a playground for the less-refined with a skill that is born out of covering sports on the national scene for the last 15 years. As a follow-up to his novel Missing Links, Reilly slips into the familiar wit and sarcasm that is found in his weekly Sports Illustrated column. Reilly is a master at exposing myths and events in the sports world. His essays in the aforementioned magazine play on what Americans see as sad-sack owners and over-paid men playing boys' games.

They also can show what Reilly shows the reader in this book: sports are a serious business. And in any serious business men will act out of line, anything can go wrong and nothing ever ends the way you envision it. An easy read reminiscent of such sports classics as The Natural and North Dallas 40, Slo-Mo! Is an exercise in exposing the sports world from what the fan sees on television and strikes holes in what sports fans see as a role model. It warrants a read by any sports-loving American, but don¹t expect to be able to just open it up and read a few pages, because Maurice and his story make for a great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.