Heaven Is a Playground: A Journey into the Sweet World of Street Basketball (Paperback)

Heaven Is a Playground: A Journey into the Sweet World of Street Basketball By Rick Telander Cover Image

Heaven Is a Playground: A Journey into the Sweet World of Street Basketball (Paperback)


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Heaven Is a Playground was the first book on the uniquely American phenomenon of urban basketball. Rick Telander, a photojournalist and former high school basketball player, spent part of the summer of 1973 and all of the summer of 1974 in Brooklyn living the playground life with his subjects at Foster Park in Flatbush. He slept on the floor of a park regular’s apartment, observing, questioning, traveling, playing with, and eventually coaching a ragtag group of local teenagers whose hopes of better lives were often fanatically attached to the transcendent game itself. Telander introduces us to Fly Williams, a playground legend with incredible leaping ability and self-destructive tendencies that threatened to keep him earthbound. Another standout was Albert King, a fifteen-year-old phenom whose shy, quiet demeanor masked an otherworldly talent that eventually took him to the NBA. This edition also includes Telander’s perspectives on the arrival of an NBA team in Brooklyn. Heaven Is a Playground is one of a kind—a funny, sad, ultimately inspiring book about Americans and the roots of the sport that they love.
Rick Telander is a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a former senior writer for Sports Illustrated and ESPN: the Magazine. Telander has won the Illinois Sportswriter of the Year Award nine times, and in 2018 he was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the author of eight books, including In the Year of the Bull.

Product Details ISBN: 9781683584728
ISBN-10: 1683584724
Publisher: Sports Publishing
Publication Date: August 1st, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English
Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Sports Books of All Time

"The best basketball book I've ever read." —Barack Obama

"Telander’s beautiful sentences... feature his keen eye for detail, and his effortless blend of sociology and sport." —Jonathan Eig, New York magazine

“Funny, sad, superbly written, and intensely involving.” —New York Times Book Review

“Telander’s open-ended chronicle of inner-city playground basketball life is a model of clarity and restraint. No one has written a more resonant or understanding book about kids playing basketball, and few books about sports have willingly pulled together so many truths about the disappointments and dislocating fantasies of athletic competition.” —The Atlantic

Heaven Is a Playground is a book that was an inspiration to me in making Hoop Dreams. Not just because of the way Rick Telander engaged in the kind of immersive personal journalism that was as rare then as it is now. But because he wrote with such passion, love, and poetry about that uniquely American confluence of mean streets, basketball, and dreams.”  —Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams