Basketball and Philosophy

Basketball and Philosophy

Thinking Outside the Paint

By Jerry L. Walls (Editor); Gregory Bassham (Editor); Dick Vitale (Foreword by)

University Press of Kentucky, Paperback, 9780813191867, 286pp.

Publication Date: February 15, 2008


What can the film Hoosiers teach us about the meaning of life? How can ancient Eastern wisdom traditions, such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism, improve our jump-shots? What can the "Zen Master" (Phil Jackson) and the "Big Aristotle" (Shaquille O'Neal) teach us about sustained excellence and success? Is women's basketball "better" basketball? How, ethically, should one deal with a strategic cheater in pickup basketball? With NBA and NCAA team rosters constantly changing, what does it mean to play for the "same team"? What can coaching legends Dean Smith, Rick Pitino, Pat Summitt, and Mike Krzyzewski teach us about character, achievement, and competition? What makes basketball such a beautiful game to watch and play? Basketball is now the most popular team sport in the United States; each year, more than 50 million Americans attend college and pro basketball games. When Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, first nailed two peach baskets at the opposite ends of a Springfield, Massachusetts, gym in 1891, he had little idea of how thoroughly the game would shape American -- and international -- culture. Hoops superstars such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Yao Ming are now instantly recognized celebrities all across the planet. So what can a group of philosophers add to the understanding of basketball? It is a relatively simple game, but as Kant and Dennis Rodman liked to say, appearances can be deceiving. Coach Phil Jackson actively uses philosophy to improve player performance and to motivate and inspire his team and his fellow coaches, both on and off the court. Jackson has integrated philosophy into his coaching and his personal life so thoroughly that it is often difficult to distinguish his role as a basketball coach from his role as a philosophical guide and mentor to his players. In Basketball and Philosophy, a Dream Team of twenty-six basketball fans, most of whom also happen to be philosophers, proves that basketball is the thinking person's sport. They look at what happens when the Tao meets the hardwood as they explore the teamwork, patience, selflessness, and balanced and harmonious action that make up the art of playing basketball.

About the Author
Jerry L. Walls (PhD, University of Notre Dame), a world-class expert on the afterlife and a sought-after speaker, has written for "Christianity Today", "First Things", and "Christian Century". He has appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" and in the documentary film "Hellbound". Walls, professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, is the coauthor of "Why I Am Not a Calvinist "and the "Christianity Today "Book Award Winner "Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality". He has authored or edited a dozen books, including a trilogy on the afterlife--"Hell: The Logic of Damnation", "Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation", and" Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy"--and is a senior speaking fellow for the Morris Institute for Human Values.

Gregory Bassham is Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at King's College (Pa.). He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy (2003), The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy (Wiley, 2010), and The Hobbit and Philosophy (forthcoming 2012). William Irwin is Professor of Philosophy at King's College, author of eleven books, and Series Editor of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series. Henry Nardone is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at King's College. His publications include scholarly articles on critical thinking and aesthetics. James M. Wallace, Professor of English at King's College, is the author or co-author of two books, including Critical Thinking (4th ed., 2011).

Dick Vitale is one of the most recognizable voices in American broadcasting. After coaching the Detroit Pistons from 1978-1979, Vitale began covering sports nationally while working for the then-fledgling ESPN. In 2008, Vitale celebrated his thirtieth year at ESPN. He has won numerous awards throughout his career and has authored seven books, including Dick Vitale's Living a Dream.