Lance Allred's Longshot - A Book Report/Review

Longshot

In a devastatingly honest and poignant book of family, basketball and life, Lance Allred, the best writing big man ever, mesmerizes with a memoir born of the cruelty and inspiration of a game that could never hold him down. -- Adrian Wojnarowski, author of The Miracle of St. Anthony 

Lance Allred is excruciatingly honest without ever feeling sorry for himself. His painful and hilarious odyssey is more inspiring and triumphant than the story of any NBA championship. Allred has written The Glass Castle of pro sports. -- Ian Thomsen, senior NBA writer, Sports Illustrated 

Unlike foreword writer Kenny Mayne's book, whence each chapter could be read during trips to the restroom, reading Longshot, you're going to be so enthralled in this book that your leg will fall asleep and you'll have to awkwardly hobble back to the couch to resume reading. -- Scott Schroeder, Grand Poobah, Ridiculous Upside

In all honestly, this book is great.  Up front, and for full disclosure, I received Longshot for free after begging to get an advance copy, but I would not have been afraid to demolish it like a salad bar post-Nate Jawai, had it deserved it.  Fortunately, I loved it.

I've occasionally exchanged emails and the like with Lance so I knew a bit of what to expect - intelligent writing, tangents if something didn't make sense, myself awkwardly wondering if I should feel bad or reply with a 'ha, you've gotta be kidding me', but passion in everything throughout.  The book was no different.

Allred paints a beautiful picture (seriously, this book will someday be a great movie) of the determination it takes to follow one's goals, ultimately leading the reader to be happy for him once he achieves his goal, as if they've becomes best friends.  It's inspiring, really.  And I just wrote on my notebook Lance Allred + Scott Schroeder = BFF's, even though Allred clearly points out he's not into dudes in the book.

Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA is not a book solely about basketball - in fact, the first 70ish pages don't include a word about basketball.  It's a book about life - triumph, trial and tribulation - and Allred's life just so happens to include basketball, as it's his chosen profession.

Allred says, toward the end of the book in a letter to God shortly before being called-up to the Cleveland Cavaliers, "I do not care about the money, or the fame.  I just want to say that I set an "unreachable" goal and I made it."  Apparently, being a tall white and lanky, hearing aid-wearing Mormon from Weber State isn't the prototypical NBAer?  I never would have guessed.

In most respects, when reading something like this from a professional basketball player, my reaction would be that of skepticism, assuming he's just saying this to appease future employers.  With Allred though, I truly believe his plight is meaningful, that he truly doesn't care about the money, the fame, even the women, but just wants to show people that he can do things that they didn't think he would ever be able to do.

The book begins in Allred's childhood, discussing his birth (when he nearly died), through his angry little (mostly) deaf kid stage while going through some truly horrifying family experiences, finally escaping the 'utopian society' he grew up in as a fundamentalist Mormon in Pinesdale, Montana.

This is when basketball moves to the forefront, once he first tries out for the basketball team, more as a way of fitting in than anything else, it seems.  Basketball, at first, is more an act of being involved in something rather than something he really wants to do, like the time he joined choir and stared at girls in the mirror, or the time his friends set him up for the most awkward first kiss I've ever had the pleasure to read about.  All sorts of crazy stories you wouldn't really expect out of a deaf Mormon kid.

He's a terrible basketball player at first, but with determination and solid coaching, he eventually gets a scholarship offer from Rick Majerus at Utah.  Unfortunately, Majerus is an asshole, and Allred ends up at Weber State.  Allred goes overseas, and paints the grim picture I imagine when players decide to play in Europe (late payments, no love from the European players, fickle coaches and the like), but then comes back to the USA, and ultimately the D-League, though it doesn't get any easier.

The time he spends writing about the D-League is great reading, as he summarizes pot-smoking roommates, the greatness that is Randy Livingston, the problems with NBA-assigned players, travel, salary, and everything else I'd want to hear about when reading a D-League player's memoirs.  It all ends though in afew pages, with a call-up to the Cleveland Cavaliers and an end to this book.  I smell a sequel.

Overall, this book taught me a lot more than I had planned.  Lance kept following his dream, no matter the hurdle placed in front of him, something I've been struggling to do as of late.  It made me question my religion, oddly enough (the end of one of the chapters really made me think).  Basically, it gave me a better, broader, perspective on life in general.  And when I got that much out of a guy that grabs balls out of the air for a living, it really made me wonder what other great stories are out there, toiling in the D-League, just waiting for their shot at telling their own story.

Allred said numerous times in this book that he's not a baller, he's not an athlete, he's nothing special - he just plays basketball.  After reading this book, and I'm sure you'll agree, he's a lot more than just a basketball player.

Follow Lance on Twitter or check out his blog for the stories he wasn't able to include in the book.  If you do or don't like Lance, follow me on Twitter.

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