Monday, December 26

The anti-J.J. Redick, Paul Shirley


Paul Shirley, subject of today's post; shown here obscured and being taken to school by Dwayne Wade.

Every now and then I decide to watch sports. This is not a usual event - I'm an aspiring writer, previously aspiring musician, and sports are generally reserved as objects of derision in my social circles. Still today was one of those days. NBA basketball was on and - as goes the tale - because nothing better was on, I watched.

The games weren't really that interesting, but for some reason, with those ideas of sports floating around I decided to check out ESPN.com for the latest stories. I do this periodically to find out things like how my college alma mater's doing in football (#23 in the nation) or basketball (11-0, but against crappy teams), how star centerfielders have sold their souls and switched from one team to that team's arch-nemesis (Johnny Damon), and other such matters that guys need to know when they go to bars.

Also, as I mentioned before, I was accused of being gay yesterday.

So after chopping logs in the yard and felling wild game in the woods beyond the yard, I went online. This is what I came across this: Paul Shirley's ESPN.com blog.

It seems that while I was in my intellectual sports-hating haze, Shirley, a 27 year-old bench warmer (now ex-bench warmer) of the Phoenix Suns, has been publishing some rather excellent reading material online under the guise of something I'd call "sports memoir".

And he's good at it. I, along with everyone else in America, am a big fan of the underdog, the lovable loser. Consider characters like Kevin Costner's Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham, the 1994 Philadelphia Phillies, the any-year Chicago Cubs. (My sports knowledge is mostly limited to baseball.) Mr. Shirley fits the bill quite nicely. Plus, he's well-traveled (eleven teams in four years), self-aware, and funny as hell. And apparently he's been signed by Random House to do a book as well.

Here's to hoping he doesn't become a winner any time soon; or at least not thinking and then subsequently writing like one. Do we really need another Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods telling us about all the things he's done and how he did it? I don't care if he had a lot of self-doubt and adversity; I don't buy it. Call me cynical, but if he made it to where he is (i.e. King of the World), he's not a believable nor likable character. Because I'm either a) a mean-spirited jerk or b)- what I like to think - a reader who thrists for surprise, I end up cheering against those guys. I want the trick ending when the main character loses. I want him to give up and say, "I can't do this." And then become some guy working in an office nine to five and be happy with it.. Oh your mother had cancer and her dying wish was to see you play in the professional sports, Mr. So and So? That's why you hit two million home runs and won sixteen World Series rings, because of the values of hard work and perserverance she taught you as a child? Well, la-dee-da. Isn't that predictable. I haven't done any of those things and nor do I realistically plan to do so. See, I want my protagonists to be people who aren't too much different than me or you; just a little luckier or smarter, or, in Paul's case, taller.

Shirley's funny musings are a nice change of pace from this guy, an entirely different brand of funny:

J.J. Redick, First Team All-American and dope MC of the rhymes. (Special thanks to Becky for the enlightening post.)

I mean, seriously, who compares himself to a condor?

3 comments:

Kevin said...

I love Paul Shirley! I am so glad he is doing a book, too. I will buy it. In hardcover.

glomgold said...

Yeah, Paul Shirley is very funny. I have no idea if he's any good at basketball though.

James said...

Apparently not - he's off playing in Europe or something right now.