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Original Issue

Hoop Dreams

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 cliche: "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.

--Leigh Montville

COLOR PHOTO: ST. MARTIN'S PRESS[Cover of book Glory Days]