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Of all the worthless ways to spend time on Twitter, few are as pointless as when I engage the site’s search function and seek out people who believe there are basketball players who were, or now are, better passers than Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Whenever Lebron James pulls off a fancy assist someone claims he’s a better passer than Magic. Not surprisingly some say Pistol Pete Maravich was a superior disher. Jason Williams fans still champion their king of the elbow pass. Even Ben Simmons supporters believe that one day, the former LSU product will prove superior to Magic as a passer.

On some level, I understand it’s senseless to get upset or annoyed over any of these opinions from strangers. And yet, each time I torture myself by searching out these beliefs I want to no-look-pass my computer across the living room.

There’s never been a better passer than Magic Johnson. Not LeBron, not Pistol, not White Chocolate, not John Stockton, not Larry Bird, not Chris Paul, not Bob Cousy, not Steve Nash, not Jason Kidd, not anyone. It’s ultimately all subjective, of course, but in the same way a consensus has formed around the idea Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter of all-time — despite that being an equally abstract title — any list about the best passer in the game’s history should always start with Magic.


About fifteen months ago I announced on TVFury a deal I’d just signed to write a book about the history of the jump shot.

Today I’m happy to reveal a bit more exciting news. Drum roll (drum roll, Russ):

My publisher Flatiron Books has revealed the cover in its Winter 2016 catalog. Check it out:


The official program for the National Junior College Athletic Association’s women’s basketball tournament listed the years of service for seven of the eight coaches who took their teams to the three-day event a few weeks ago in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. None of those seven were longtime veterans. Six years. Seven years. One year. None of those seven had even 10 years on the bench with their school.

For some reason, there was no listing of years for the coach of the Minnesota West Lady Jays, the two-year program out of Worthington, Minnesota. My uncle Mike Fury led the Lady Jays into the national tourney. It was his first appearance in nationals as coach at Minnesota West. His first appearance in 34 years on the bench. I’m not sure why the program didn’t list his years of tenure — perhaps Mike simply didn’t include the info or the person entering the data couldn’t believe anyone would last that long as coach at a community college. High school coaches last for 34 years. Coaches at four-year schools can last for 34 years. Rarely does a community college coach last for 34 years at one school. Monday, Mike made official what he’d known for awhile and what many of us in the family speculated about for months: The 2015 season was his last. My old boss in Worthington Doug Wolter wrote a really nice piece about Mike’s retirement announcement for the Daily Globe.


I’ve spent most of the past four months reading about the jump shot, talking about the jump shot and thinking about the jump shot. A few times — when playing with other old guys in northern Manhattan or playing H-O-R-S-E against one of the great streetball shooters in NYC history — I’ve also been shooting jump shots. I’ve loved every moment of it. Reading about the jumper has proven especially enjoyable. I’ve looked through hundreds of old newspaper articles and magazine profiles, features on some of the first players to ever shoot the shot and profiles of some of the best to ever shoot it.

The only problem with all this reading research is I’m easily distracted. While reading about a player from 1942 who pioneered the jump shot I get distracted by a bizarre ad on the same newspaper page or a headline about the U.S. hockey team preparing to take on the hated Commies. Old newspapers employed colorful language, if not layout, the front page hosting 10, 15 stories, same thing with the front page of sports. I often find myself questioning the editorial decisions of people who worked 80 years ago and have probably been dead for 60.


I’ve taken five different trips to Cape Town. The first time we stayed five weeks. The next two trips my wife stayed a month while I came for two weeks, and last year’s adventure was just a week for me, in and out for my brother-in-law’s wedding, as much time spent in the air than on the ground. But this year, as I returned to the freelance ranks, I’m again here for the long haul — five weeks. Staying with Louise’s family for this long allows us to actually settle in. We get over the jet lag and it starts to feel like home, even though the end of the trip still always comes too soon. The end will come in about two weeks this time.

A few of the highlights: (more…)

Faribault Bethlehem Academy boys basketball coach Franz Boelter announced his retirement on Tuesday. In 36 years of coaching — six in tiny Medford, 30 more in the small private school about 50 miles south of Minneapolis — Boelter went 613-290, the seventh-most victories of any boys basketball coach in state history. He won 14 Gopher Conference championships at B.A., eight district and sub-section titles. His 1993 Cardinals team placed second in the Class A state tournament, back when there were only two classes in Minnesota. A year later the Cardinals placed third. That’s on the basketball court. As volleyball coach at B.A. Boelter has proven even more dominant, winning an astounding six state championships. There are very few coaches in Minnesota — if any outside of former Tracy-Milroy and Marshall coach Terry Culhane — who have enjoyed that type of two-sport success. He will continue on as B.A’s volleyball coach and will continue to contend for state championships.

But to really see Boelter’s greatness as a coach, go back to his Medford years. Medford won the Gopher Conference in 1981 and 1982 and that doesn’t sound like it compares to section and state titles, but after Boelter left Medford won a single Gopher Conference title. No one wins in Medford. Franz did.


Stop what you’re doing, pick up the remote and start scanning the channels. No matter if you have 10 or 1,000 channels, chances are that right now — whether you’re reading this at 7 in the morning or 11 at night — you will stumble upon Roadhouse. There, on AMC, there it is. Patrick Swayze’s Dalton is talking about pain not hurting, never underestimating your opponent and always being nice. Roadhouse has been a cable staple for three decades and last week AMC put it on one of those loops where it played every six hours, drawing you in each time with bizarre set pieces — seriously, a monster truck? — and ridiculous characters (like, well, everyone, including Sam Elliott’s Wade, brought in by Dalton in a late-season acquisition, like the Lakers picking up Mychal Thompson in 1987 for the stretch drive, if the gregarious Mychal had ended up sprawled out on a bar with a knife in his chest instead of pouring champagne on his teammates after Game 6 of the Finals). I watched parts of it every time I stumbled upon it, and I like it for the same reasons everyone else does: How can you not like a movie about a philosophy-major bouncer — sorry, cooler — who kicks ass and cleans house?


A little book news

Posted: February 14, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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Blood. Salt. Cod. Spice. Tuna. Fat. Bananas. Potatoes. Milk. Flotsam. And Jetsam. Wood. Garbage. Human waste.

Those are some of the subjects of books the past decade or so. I’ve read many of them — including ones mentioned above — and have enjoyed nearly all of them. The first thought when seeing the title is “How can anyone write an entire book about that one thing” followed by, “Why didn’t I think of that?” These books describe one thing but also write about how it affects the world. They’re about one seemingly small thing that influences nearly everything. Over the years I’ve tried thinking of something that would work for that type of book. What about beds? Or pillows? Pencils? Ink? The problem was everything’s been done, or so it seems. The other problem? If you’re going to write a book it has to be something you care about, and if you’re going to write a good book it should be something you’re passionate about.


Copy editor at the movies

Posted: February 10, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

If you’ve been in a theater the past month, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the new movie where Liam Neeson kills numerous people while saving others. It’s not the new Taken movie. Instead it’s about an air marshal who finds out someone will kill a passenger unless some money gets wired into a secret account and then that secret account is in Liam’s name and the crew turns against him and all he wants to do is find the madman before the whole damn plane goes down — or up — in flames. The movie is called Non-Stop.

And as I saw the title come up on the big screen during the previews, all I could think was, what kind of style guide was the studio using?


Here are some links for your reading pleasure.

* There was a beloved composer in Japan who penned some of the most heartbreaking works the country had ever heard. He was also deaf, earning comparisons to Beethoven. Except it turns out he had a ghostwriter who wrote everything and he wasn’t deaf.

* Jeff Pearlman on the 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the team after the Miracle on Ice.

* Pilots on Justin Bieber’s flight had to wear goggles because of the weed.

* Story about a crime reporter who lost everything because of his own meth addiction.

* This New York Magazine story on gentrification in Inwood includes a lengthy interview with our pharmacist, Manny.

* Stephen Moffat answers questions about season 3 of Sherlock.

* Horrifying GQ story about what it’s like to be gay in Putin’s Russia.

* This is a very important story. A complete timeline of all of George Clooney’s pranks. I will not hear anyone saying a bad word about George Clooney. Or his pranks.

* Philip Roth is really enjoying his retirement.

* The New York Times envisions what Manhattan would look like it if hosted the Winter Olympics.

* Alex Pappadamas on Philip Seymour Hoffman.