The Perfect Team: The Best Players, Coach and GM - Let the Debate Begin! by the NBA with a foreword by Chuck Daly (Doubleday), 352 pages, $33.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The perfect team debate has been raging for years, replete with the knocking of heads, cursing and incredulity over blue-sky inclusions and exclusions on a fantasyland roster. Now that the NBA playoffs are in full gear, what better time to enter the best basketball squad squabble?
In The Perfect Team, the league elbows in on the argument, putting its money on 12 players alongside a coach and GM for the ages.
The game is that each of the anointed is talked up by a different sports writer of repute, based on an ascribed attribute never ticked on a box score or gambling marker.
Their weighing of such things as courage, leadership and precision often will either reinforce your personal take on the matter or piss you right off.
These emotional arguments, with stats padding the back of each chapter, are a tad repetitive, and there's much talk of intangibles.
What keeps the assembling of this team from deteriorating into a dubious undertaking akin to fantasy-league wankery is input from the Perfect Teamers themselves.
And most (Michael Jordan being a notable scratch) also envision their damn-near perfect squad (or several, in the case of Shaquille O'Neal).
Everyone's got his guys and reasons why, but the results are highly predictable - even beyond the ultra-obvious Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson refrain - based on the era and team of the selector. However, at least a few surprise names do make the cut.
Perfect Team coach Phil Jackson's assessment of his would-be roster is priceless, and check out the cameo by Wayne Embry, senior basketball advisor for the Raptors.
The book's subtitle is Let The Debate Begin, while the discussion of who's the best hoopster has been ongoing for decades, but the Perfect Team does bring NBA insider voices to the discussion.
Not that it's going to change any of our already made-up minds.