RISE AND FIRE

 

"Fury (Keeping the Faith) calls his latest work a love letter to basketball and the jump shot, which changed the nature of the game. All of the great shooters are here: pioneers such as Ken Sailors; legends such as Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, and more; and ending with today's marksman, Stephen Curry. The author also revisits Indiana schoolboy legends Jimmy Rayl and Rick Mount, and deadeyes of the old Iowa women's high school game (three players per team playing offense, three playing defense), Denise Long and Jeanette Olson, who dueled in the 1968 state tournament final with Olson outscoring Long, 76 to 64 in a losing cause. All expound on the shot and the game, making this a fascinating discourse on the evolution of the sport. VERDICT Apart from Fury's historical account, ultimately we must return to the love letter, as it transports us back to the days when the world was just us, a basketball, and a hoop mounted in a driveway, an alley, a barn, or a deserted playground, and in our minds we became West or Robertson or Long, and it seemed we would be forever young."

-Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)

 

"Fury dutifully recounts the biographies of professional stars, but he is at his best when unearthing the buried tales of old shooting marvels. ...The author is a happy tour guide. He dives into dusty newspaper accounts, relates tales from his cross-country jaunts and sprinkles in autobiographical tidbits. In one interesting diversion, he visits with professional shooting coaches, exploring both the technical aspects and psychological tendencies of great shooters. Like many of his subjects, Fury loves the pursuit of the perfect shot. ...Just like you want a great jump shooter on your team, you want this book on your shelf."
-Washington Post (Click here for complete review)

 

Journalist Fury (Keeping the Faith: In the Trenches with College Football's Worst Team, 2005) celebrates basketball’s jump shot: its origins, its fundamentals, and its greatest practitioners. “Roughly thirty-four years after I first picked up a ball,” writes the author, “there’s still nothing like being on the court—inside or outside, with teammates or alone—firing away with the jumper.” These are the words of a man smitten with a game, and within that game, he found something deep and abiding. It certainly affected his career arc, for here are more than 300 pages devoted to a tour d’horizon of the game’s most revolutionary shot: the jumper. Fury also takes detours into the history of the game, secrets and superstitions of shooters—no dribbles before free throws, sure, but also the idea that each hoop has its own personality—the worlds of shooting coaches and high-tech machines like Noah (color-coded to measure that consistency of the arc) and Dartfish (which “uses cameras to track a player’s shot frame by frame”), and the bizarre circumstances that led basketball players to be called, at least in the old days, “cagers.” In a pleasing touch, Fury mixes a little memoir—high school, college, and playground games—into the stories of Joe Fulks and Kenny Sailors, the outlandish Celtics dynasty of the 1950s, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, the Indiana savants Jimmy Rayl and Rick Mount, the Iowa stars Denise Long and Jeanette Olson, and the shot that launched the movie Hoosiers. The author digresses and then returns, smoothly if not silkily, to the chronological march, noting how the evolution of the shot changes everything each time it punctures the game’s equilibrium, most recently with big men moving away from the basket to shoot (something that Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had foreshadowed). Fury ends with every basketball fan’s favorite provocations: the greatest shot, the greatest shooter, etc. The jump shot created offense, and Fury elevates it to yet higher ground.

-Kirkus Review

 

"While basketball's slam dunk may get all the glory, journalist Shawn Fury (Keeping the Faith) suggests in Rise and Fire that the jumper is the money shot that changed basketball for good. From its 1891 origin in the Springfield, Mass., YMCA (when James Naismith nailed peach baskets on a couple of posts) until the 1930s, basketball was a team sport ruled by intricate ball-handling and quick passes until an open man squares to the basket, sets, and with two hands pushes the ball toward the hoop. When players abandoned the set shot to put the ball up with hands overhead and feet off the floor, the game changed big time. On every playground and backyard in the country, kids could now perfect their fadeaways, pick-n-pops and all-net wets to leapfrog heavily coached organized ball and break straight into national college and pro fame.Including interviews with both early masters like Jerry West and more obscure players like Bobby Plump and Kenny Sailors, Rise and Fire is not just a history of the jump shot, but also a comprehensive history of modern basketball. Fury profiles the great shooters of each decade, and touches on the evolution of the tools of the game--the rims, nets, backboards and balls. As the country's unofficial baller capital, Indiana merits several chapters, including play-by-plays of the famous New Castle "Church Street Shootout." From a small town in Minnesota, Fury weaves his own "hoop dreams" into the book--an anecdote- and research-filled love story for anyone who worships at New York's West 4th Street playground or Kansas's famous fieldhouse "The Phog.""

Discover: Rich with game details, player biography and roundball lore, Rise and Fire is a history of modern basketball traced through the devastating and graceful jump shot.

-Shelf Awareness

 

"Some of the best to ever do it are discussed, namely Michael Jordan, which is part of what makes Rise and Fire a great teacher for any any student of the game."
-Slam magazine (read the complete review here)

 

“Rise and Fire profiles great shooters of the past and present, from Rick Mount to Ray Allen and countless more, but also shows the importance and beauty of the jump shot itself, a play that continues to evolve and change the game. Shawn Fury’s superb book is about one shot, but every basketball fan will enjoy it.”
–Mike Krzyzewski, Head Coach of the Duke and USA Men’s National basketball teams

 

“Rise and Fire is a love letter to the jump shot, full of fascinating details and anecdotes. Wide-ranging and thoroughly researched, it is both a lively history and an ode to that mysterious, timeless motion. You can feel Fury’s passion and curiosity on every page.”
–Chris Ballard, Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and author of “The Art of a Beautiful Game”

 

“As I write this, jump-shooter extraordinaire Steph Curry is ripping through the postseason. But it’s not the obvious targets that make this book come alive; it’s the lesser-known stories and anecdotes, including the author’s visit with “Hoosiers” model Bobby Plump, that make “Rise and Fire” a nothing-but-net read.”
–Jack McCallum, author of “Dream Team” and “Seven Seconds or Less”

 

"Fury attempts to investigate the origins of the jump shot and how strategies have evolved around this weapon since the early stages of game play. When Dr. James Naismith invented the sport, he envisioned a multi-pass offense with no dribbling allowed leading into a set shot, but only when open and with a clear look at the basket. That’s a far cry from the beautiful game we watch today and Fury takes us on the journey of how we got to today. ...This is a necessary read for those interested in either the history of the game or the evolution of the game and on-court shifts in focus. Fury balances biographical information with how each player molded the game we know and love. You’ll be sure to learn something new while gaining a new appreciation for the character and work ethic of some of the greatest shooters to have graced the floor."
-Basketball Breakdown (Click here for complete review)

 

“Rise and Fire by Shawn Fury is a quintessential read for anyone fascinated by basketball’s on-going evolution. It takes a simple, yet fascinating question — How did the jump shot gradually become the most aesthetically-pleasing movement in all of sports? — and turns it into an engrossing odyssey that offers insight, answers and a meditation on artistry. This is a must-have for anyone who ever held their breath when Larry Bird let one fly with the game on the line, or spent a long summer night in their parents’ driveway, hoisting countless jumpers at a rim illuminated by the glow of flickering floodlights mounted above the garage.”
— Kevin Van Valkenburg, ESPN The Magazine senior writer

 

Shawn Fury’s written a biography of the jump shot—”Rise and Fire”—which is perfect for the age of no conscience in basketball. The jump shot is in full flower in the postmodern game these days. Seriously, it’s a fun read filled with surprises and great stories. Certain requirements are fulfilled—Larry Bird gets his own chapter. It’s a must for any serious hoops library.
— Roland Lazenby. author of Michael Jordan, The Life.

 

“This is a book about a shot, but it’s of course so much more than that. One basic shot — a fundamental human movement — is interpreted and evolved around the country and the world, with everyone adding their own regional take. Fury’s book is thorough and smart, but more than anything, it’s a lively, extremely fun travelogue through a journey that parallels that of the sport it transformed.”
—Will Leitch, author of “Are We Winning?” and “God Save the Fan”

 

The author of Keeping the Faith: In the Trenches with College Football’s Worst Team (2005) comprehensively traces the transformative effect of the jump shot on the game of basketball. At one point, he imagines the excitement of watching a pure jump shooter—say, Joe Fulks, Sam Jones, or Rick Mount—hit shot after shot in the gyms in which many of these young men (some into old age) virtually lived. The reader may not share the level of the author’s excitement (jump shots in a gym?) as, chapter by chapter, the evolution of the shot—and thus the history of college and professional basketball since the 1940s—is recounted, from opposition to its very existence through the introduction and then primacy of the three-point shot, from Kenny Sailors through Jerry West to Steph Curry. Still, there is much here to rekindle the memories of basketball fans, who will quickly discern that there is one thing all these jump shooters have in common: Swish!
— Booklist

KEEPING THE FAITH

 

Trinity Bible College, of Ellendale, N.Dak., made national headlines in fall 2003 when the school's football team lost its season opener 105-0. It would be easy to romanticize the Lions as lovable losers; many of the players, scraped together from the college's 300 students, have never played organized football before, and officially the school is more concerned with saving souls than winning games. But while this story has its share of offbeat moments-including a practice session so disorganized no one can find any footballs-Fury usually avoids the easy route. Following the team for the 2004 season, the freelance reporter winds up chronicling the mounting frustration among the players and assistant coaches with the hands-off management style of head coach Rusty Bentley, and suspense is generated not by wondering if the Lions will be able to pull out a victory, but whether the team will make it to the end of the season intact. In between games, Fury ably sets the scene around the small campus, which is so remote, people there can't even get cell phone service. By refusing to caricature or sentimentalize the players, Fury delivers a heartfelt tale.

—Publishers Weekly

 

Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota, has a total enrollment of 310 students, most of whom become preachers and missionaries. Amazingly, it also fields a football team. The head coach is Rusty Bentley, a native Texan whose first season, 2003, was notable for its stunning lack of success. In his first game, Trinity was beaten by Rockford College of Illinois 105-0, the most lopsided defeat in college-football history. The rest of the season wasn't much better. Trinity was outscored 585-12. Journalist Fury followed the team through the 2004 season. Trinity wasn't much more successful in 2004, prompting dissension in the ranks as the players began to tune Bentley out, eventually causing his postseason resignation. The lesson readers will be left with is this: faith will carry one through many difficult situations in life, but in football an occasional win is important, too. An intriguing counterpoint to the numerous accounts of championship teams and coaches.

— Booklist

© 2015 by Shawn Fury