Jeff Pearlman

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Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.21.51 PM

Death pools

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.21.51 PMSo earlier today someone I know excitedly reported the death of Nelson Mandela.

“Why are you happy?” I asked.

“Because,” she said, “I had him in a death pool.”

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream. I wanted to leg sweep this person. Nelson Mandela’s death is nothing to laugh at. Hell, death (period) isn’t something to laugh at. I see no positives in the extinction of life; especially the extinction of such a noble life.

Then, tonight, my brain started itching. I thought back to the early 1990s, when I … I … I … eh, was in a death pool.

I was young and dumb and insensitive, and I drafted (I believe) Ronald Reagan, the Pope and Bob Hope as my big three. None of the men died during this period, but I reckon I would have probably offered a chest pump or two had I secured $20.

I obviously don’t write this to brag; only to explain that, with youth, comes ignorance and callousness and stupidity. As we get older, we started to figure this whole humanity thing out, and we cease taking pleasure in the passing of others.

Unless you’re CNN, that is.

PS: An interesting little sidenote: Much like musicians recording Christmas albums in April, newspapers and magazines and major websites have had Mandela obits planned for months, if not years. I remember, as a Tennessean staffer, writing up an obit for Moody Lynn (Loretta’s husband) well before he actually died. It’s how the system works.

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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