Benoit Labis presents the book “The Great History of the NBA”.

Where does your passion for basketball come from?
During my university studies, I developed a keen interest in the English language and American culture, exploring a little of all subjects. Around 2010, I discovered the documentary “30 for 30” produced by the sports channel ESPN, some episodes of which were shown on French channels in a subtitled version. Several of them were about basketball. After further research, I realized how interesting this sport is; Everything I saw or read about the NBA after that made me more attracted.

Can you introduce us to your book, The Great History of the NBA?
The great history of the NBA goes back in detail to each season of the NBA – the North American basketball championship – from its beginning to the present day. Each season is told in the form of a short story of portraits, but also contains unpublished anecdotes taken from documentaries, books and articles published by specialized American journalists. The peculiarity of this book is that it is intended for both connoisseurs and the general public: NBA activities, certain specific conditions, highlights, reasons for the success of certain players; everything is explained there. I wanted to approach things in the most entertaining way possible, avoiding getting too cheesy with a bunch of names, results and stats that wouldn’t make sense to the uninformed reader.

Why did you want to write a book about the NBA and how it has evolved over the decades?
During my research, I realized that a large amount of information that I was able to read or see on the US side was overlooked in France. I wanted to bring them together in one book. But I also wanted to give an objective look at the history of the NBA, based on concrete facts and taking into account all the changes that have occurred over time. Often, the way players are perceived by the audience or the media does not correspond to reality; some are unjustly maligned and some are praised for the wrong reasons. The same situation applies to some teams. As for the evolution of the NBA, I think it has come a long way in seventy-five years. Note that in the beginning the players were not professionals; Barring travel or military service restrictions, the salaries were ridiculous, so they had a second job in the offseason, and the control was more rudimentary. Today, even the lowest-rated players make millions a year, and the NBA provides everyone with the best possible working conditions.

Although the beginnings were difficult, what led to the democratization of the championship all over the world?
The trigger on a global level was probably the “Dream Team” adventure at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. It was there that the world discovered what the NBA was all about. The level of American basketball players was exceptional: they were several years ahead, and the general interest in the American league only grew from that moment. Many young Europeans have been inspired by the “Dream Team”; Tony Parker, who was torn between football and basketball in his youth, said that he chose basketball after watching a game in the United States in 1992. Twenty years after the Barcelona Games, there were seventy-eight foreign players in the NBA. more than a handful before. And then, of course, we can’t ignore the influence of Michael Jordan. His performances and charisma made him an international icon. Everyone was in awe of him and wanted to follow his exploits even across the Atlantic.

How did you document yourself to write your book?
As I said earlier, I am mostly inspired by books and articles written by well-known American journalists. I took care to thank most of them in my book. In addition, I went to draw information from documentaries, magazines and several biographies of players and actors in the NBA world.

Are there any players who stand out during the championship?
Many players have marked the NBA in their own way. There are too many to name them all, but if I had to name a few, I would name Bill Russell, the greatest winner in NBA history and a role model for all African-American basketball players; Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who practically saved the NBA when things were going terribly wrong, and especially Michael Jordan, who needs no introduction. And of course, LeBron James, perhaps the best basketball player of the twenty-first century, cannot be missed.

How have NBA rules changed over time?
The most important rule was the creation of the twenty-four second possession rule in the mid-1950s, and I have devoted a whole chapter to it in my book. Without this rule, the NBA would become useless because the game is tasteless. Then there were many important developments; the league has always had the intelligence to adapt to the times and not be afraid to innovate. This limited the influence of larger and more powerful players to avoid overdominating them; added a three-point line to give backs value; In the 2000s, when the tempo was much slower and defense was more dominant than offense, he changed the rules to allow players to attack the basket and rebound the ball faster. Today, players are becoming more and more skilled at shooting and matches are ending with higher and higher scores; it may be time to go back to stricter rules on defense. There are…

Do you have a favorite NBA team?
I like the Boston Celtics because of their game philosophy and history. But actually I am quite neutral. I want the best team to win.

What impact do you think the NBA has on basketball (fans or players) in our regions?
French basketball is of very high quality, like European basketball. But in sports, everyone wants to be the best at what they do. And the level of the NBA is much higher than other championships. For every young basketball player in the making, the NBA represents their ultimate dream of excellence. Inevitably, all basketball fans in Europe or elsewhere are interested and discussing it.

Can you tell an anecdote about the championship?
There are so many incredible anecdotes about the championship that it is impossible for me to choose a specific one! I have collected most of them in my book. I still want to give you a quote that I forget the origin of, but that pretty well sums up what people thought of Michael Jordan when he was tearing up the NBA: “The problem with Michael Jordan is that he plays basketball better than anyone else. in the world. »

Are signings planned at bookstores or fairs?
Nothing is planned at the moment, but anything is possible.

Would you like to tell us a few words about your NBA Book blog?
I created the blog in 2016 to provide the French public with English-language articles, books and documentaries dedicated to the NBA. It was this blog that later inspired me to write my book. The time I’ve spent on the latter has prevented me from doing any recent updates, but I’ll certainly return to it when I find new topics to cover.

What do you want to say to the end?
I would like to thank Editions Solar from the bottom of my heart for agreeing to publish my book. I didn’t have any particular ambitions when I wrote it, and I was very happy with their appreciation of my work! If you want to start any writing project, don’t hesitate to try, even if it takes time, patience, and a lot of seriousness.

Thanks to Benoit Labis for answering our interview!

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