Book Review: Can I Keep My Jersey?

July 10th, 2007
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Can I Keep My Jersey?
Paul Shirley
Villard Books
$23.95 ($29.95 Canada)

The subtitle of the book sums it all up – 11 Teams, 5 Countries and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond. NBA diehards and/or Iowa State fans will know the name Paul Shirley from the basketball court – the rest of the world is getting to know him from his very popular blogs on and from this very good book.

The book is pretty much a long, very entertaining blog. Rather than another boring autobiography from a superstar player, Can I Keep My Jersey? flips the script and deals with the life of the journeyman. Anyone who has read Shirley’s writings for or the Phoenix Suns’ website know what to expect – funny, sarcastic, jaded, non-PC rants on the state of the world – on the court and off. The non-PC part could be a big one for readers in this ever watered down, censored world we live in – Shirley pulls no punches, with religion, stupid basketball players and people from other countries with odor issues taking the brunt of his rage.

Shirley’s journey through the book takes him to various NBA teams, but most of his life is spent in the CBA, the ABA or in various outposts in Europe. The book also contains the requisite suppository and catheter segments that all good books possess. What makes the book really unique is that it is as if a fan has written it – it just so happens that the fan is 6’10” and plays in some of the world’s best basketball leagues.

If you want an uncensored, unbiased insider view on life in the NBA, the U.S. minor leagues and European basketball, this book is for you. It is often hilarious, always interesting, and makes you realize at least one pro basketball player actually “gets it”. A very entertaining must read.

5 out of 5 stars