Jeff Pearlman

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0-29: The remarkable basketball run of Emmett Pearlman

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So those seven of you who read this blog with any regularity might remember that my son Emmett stopped playing basketball last year. He just sorta got fed up with the ultra-competitiveness, with the intensity, with the coaches thinking they’re Bobby Knight. So he wrapped his career on the hardwood after three full seasons …

… and an 0-27 record.

Yes, 0-27. Emmett was never on a team that won a game. Truth be told, I don’t remember his teams ever coming particularly close. It’s actually a remarkable run. Probably some sort of Southern Californian record. But, through it all, the kid handled it well. The game, Emmett would tell you, has never been about winning and losing, so much as fun and exercise. So he took his .9 ppg career scoring average and hung up his sneakers.

Recently, however, he decided to follow the examples of Michael Jordan and Jim Palmer and dozens of other retirees and make a comeback. So I found him a new league—25 minutes away, emphasis on fun, NBA team names—and he signed up. Thus far, the Lakers have played two games, and they’ve lost both by an average of 32 points.

It’s mind-bending. No, Emmett is far from a star. So he doesn’t escape the nonstop losses unscathed. But for some reason he always winds up on the worst team, stuffed with kids who don’t know how to play, kids who think they’re better than they are, kids who shoot and shoot. The Lakers, for example, are a motley crew, with an older and younger sibling who, in last night’s blowout loss to the Suns, shot a combined, oh, 7 for 50. That’s not an exaggeration—they kept hucking and hucking and hucking, and the rim kept clanging and clanging and clanging. It was frustrating to watch, and at the end I wanted to rip out my hair.

And yet …

Emmett had a great time. He loves playing defense, loves the challenge.

Ultimately, that’s what it’s about.

Even as the defeats mount.

  • Robbymack87

    YOUR pride? Just as commendable

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life