The true story of basketball lives as much off the court as on the hardwood; it is about politics and race and cultural clashes as heated as a final-four buzzer-beater. This story unfolds in all its gritty and colorful detail in Under the Boards. From the birth of the Larry Bird legend to the ascendancy of a hip-hop-infused NBA to the backlash against bling and the contemporary American game, Jeffrey Lane traces the emergence of a new culture of basketball, complete with competing values, attitudes, aesthetics, and racial and economic tensions.
The revolution Lane describes resonates in the way Latrell Sprewell’s assault on his coach forever changed NBA power relations; in legendary coach Bob Knight’s entanglement in high school basketball history; in the dramatic shift in attitude toward European players; in the impact of the deaths of two rappers on rookie Allen Iverson’s career; and in conflicting cultural models rooted in ideals of black masculinity and white nostalgia. In these moments Lane’s book documents a profound change in basketball and in American culture over the last thirty years.
“Lane’s first book comes at you like a tenacious defender—grabbing, pushing, and decimating your comfort zone [with] penetrating and often startling insight. . . . This book will force you to buckle down and confront your weaknesses. And in this case, it’s your mind that ends up stronger.” —Jesse Washington, Bounce Magazine
“Lane’s personal dialogue complements his rich account of the history of modern hoops. When examining the relationships that exist between the NBA and hip-hop, big sneaker companies and high school studs, Lane’s gatherings register dead-on and true.”—Matt Caputo, SLAM
“Lane [has] developed a keen eye for the racial, generational and power dynamics at play in his favorite pastime, which is evident in his new book. . . . Lane proves that the culture of basketball not only influences American life but accurately reflects wider social patterns and what transpires in the locker room, the press box or the owner’s office is worth as much examination as the action on the hardwood.”—WireTap
“A strongly informed, often scathing examination of noted personalities and controversies in basketball’s previous couple of decades. . . . [Lane] is unabashedly smitten by the game of basketball and effectively labors to demonstrate its import on and off the hardwood.”—PopMatters.com
“Under the Boards is the best account of race and basketball I know of. Written by a brilliant new author, this book will change how we understand the role of sport and very much more about American culture.”—Charles Lemert, author of Muhammad Ali: Trickster in the Culture of Irony
“Basketball offers a rich resource for those trying to understand not only the world of sports but the current political pulse in this country. Jeffrey Lane breaks new ground, and challenges us to raise our understanding of the game. A must read—whether you've ever laced up hightops or not.”—Dave Zirin, author of What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
“Burrowing skillfully and deeply into the important discussion of culture and race within the sport of basketball, Jeffrey Lane positions himself in Under the Boards as a young and forceful commentator on the American-game-gone-global. This intelligent and comprehensive work is the literary equivalent of the complete player: it not only energizes and enlightens, it defies conventionality.”—Harvey Araton, New York Times columnist and author of Crashing the Borders: How Basketball Won the World and Lost Its Soul at Home