Most of basketball, like life, is about imperfection. This book is mainly about imperfection. The coach, the players, the writer, and the season reveals the pattern of imperfection, the revision, the “do it again” that Coach Clink echoes throughout practice until perfection is finally within grasp. This book is about those fleeting moments of perfection, the ephemeral moment of bliss upon catching the snowflake only to have it instantly melt in your hand. Even though we know the snowflake will melt within a second, we continue our pursuit of it.
I believe Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby said it best: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.” This book is about the pursuing types, the grinders, the basketball players and coaches, the writers—all of us who have the courage and stamina to chase and pursue a dream that will probably not come true yet pursue the dream anyway. It’s the air we breathe, and to not pursue our dreams would be to die. Just like the coaches and the team and the season(s) you are about to read about pursued perfection, so, too, did I. I wanted to write a flawless book where the narrative flowed seamlessly, each metaphor was original, each game had you on the edge of your seat, the syntax sizzled, and there were no punctuation gaffes or typos. I believe the image on the cover of the book best represents the chronicling of the journey you are about to take—all the blemishes from the weather-beaten book bag to the old leather ball to the stack of beat up books and to the dented, fingerprint-smudged Red Door itself. A professional photographer did not take the photograph on the book cover, but the Sports Information Director, Luke Reid, a character (and fellow writer) within the book.
If I were to have produced a flawless book, well, that would have been false advertising, wouldn’t it? I imagine there will be commas out of place, names possibly misspelled, facts misconstrued, and tangential moments irrelevant to the story. I warn you ahead of time. However, the organic, imperfect nature of writing—the constant revision and pursuit of perfection—is what I love about both writing and basketball. Sport, after all, is unscripted drama. So, too, is the writing process.
A writer, though, not unlike a coach can only do so much with the time he has and within the rules and limits of the game. The writer not unlike a coach tries to maximize the talent he or she has, and both the writer and the coach strive to write the perfect sentence or perfect the jump stop, and capture an original metaphor or draw up and execute the perfect play, or make the right substitution or manage the clock down to the last second.
I tried to write this book in a way that would be timeless. I hope that fifty years from now the book—the season—will still be relevant. As long as there is the game of college basketball, as long as there is a Red Door that generations of young men can walk through and go beyond, the book will persist.