SI Vault
Hoop Dreams
Leigh Montville
April 06, 1998
Glory Daysby Bill Reynolds St. Martin's Press, $22.95
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 06, 1998

Hoop Dreams

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Glory Days
by Bill Reynolds
St. Martin's Press, $22.95

The women in Bill Reynolds's life are frustrated. They find themselves in assorted gymnasiums on Friday and Saturday nights watching basketball games. They find themselves at home with a basketball game always on the television. Their lives are lived with crowd noise always in the background. What's the deal? The women can't figure it out.

How can this game be so important? How can Reynolds spend so much time thinking about it, talking about it, watching it, playing it? Relationships begin and end. A marriage begins and ends. The recurring scene is almost a sitcom clich´┐Ż: "You're not going to watch another game, are you?" The women's question hangs in the air around Reynolds, clicker in his hand.

This memoir, Glory Days: On Sports, Men, and Dreams that Don't Die, is an eloquent attempt at explanation. It should be required reading for all basketball junkies and the people who love them.

"[The games] are the one constant in my life," Reynolds tells a soon-to-depart girlfriend. "Everything else in my life has changed. My family has changed. My friends have changed. Everything changes. But the games don't. When I go to a game, it's timeless. I relate to it the same way I did when I was 10 years old."

As a kid in Barrington, R.I., Reynolds learned that basketball was a magic key to acceptance and respect. He was a good player, a shooter. Adults praised him. Schoolmates liked him. His name was in the newspaper. He accepted the rewards that arrived, passing through high school without studying, getting admitted to an Ivy League college despite bad grades and average SATs. He was Brown's leading scorer. Life was easy, tidy. Then it was done.

"How to explain that being a player was the only dream I ever had and that dream ended when I was 23 years old?" Reynolds, 52, writes. "How to explain that shooting a basketball was the one thing I did best in all the world, a skill that now had no value, worthless as a childhood toy?"

Reynolds, a sports columnist for the Providence Journal, has struggled with these questions for the past 29 years, still enraptured by this game that means nothing and everything at the same time. He is a voice for that inarticulate lump plopped in the blue light of the den, hypnotized by the activities of five kids from Kentucky or Utah. A terrific voice.