What is Ball Don’t Lie?

How to Hack the Hoops Story-Generator


Basketball isn’t just a sport: it’s a story-generator.

IScreenshot 2016-03-13 09.01.59Ball Don’t Lie! I tell the story of basketball by taking a look at the stories basketball tells about itself.

I get under the hood to see how this story-generator works and try to make it work better.

First, the hoops story-generator takes in raw materials from the court—players like Michael Jordan, events like the formation of the NBA, and teams like the New York Knicks.

Then, it adds elements from American popular culture and society: language, stereotypes, fears, desires, moral norms—especially those that have to with race.

Lastly, it molds these raw materials into story forms like fairy tales or creation myths.

The basketball story-generator then delivers its finished tales back out into our society, where we consume them, use them, and share them so that they take on a life of their own.

But I do more than just describe the stories generated by basketball. I also hack the story-generator so as to get its parts and and raw materials to spit out a different product that puts players at the center and that lets their creative artistry on the court—their play—drive the story.

It works!

Sport in American History

“. . . a rich model for making connections between conversations about basketball, racial ideologies, and the broader socioeconomic environment.”

“. . . an accessible and entertaining work

Baltimore City Paper

“A readable and endlessly quotable academic book—a rarity really.”

SLAM Magazine

“It’s a revelation!

Todd Boyd, author of Young, Black, Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip Hop Invasion and the Transformation of American Culture wrote:

“In this compelling critical dissection of a truly fascinating sport, Yago Colás effectively breaks down the game of basketball in ways social, cultural, and political. As Rasheed Wallace said, ‘Ball don’t lie!’ Neither does this book.”

And Aram Goudsouzianauthor of King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution, says:

“In an accessible and engaging writing style, Colás tackles basketball from the perspective of a literary critic. He cleverly sets up each chapter with a myth and then he goes about deconstructing it from a variety of angles. This book can help change how we teach and write about sport.”

First One’s Free

Or, if you don’t believe them, you can read an excerpt about Michael Jordan here at USAToday’s Hoops Hype blog, or else check out this excerpt on Allen Iverson.

Go get it!

You can ask for Ball Don’t Lie! at your local book store, or order it online from Temple University Press, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.


Let Bad Prof Help!

If you’d like to interview me, or have me come to your town or campus to read from or talk about Ball Don’t Lie! and to sign copies, just let me know.

I’m a passionate, engaging speaker with more than two decades experience and I love to meet with and hear the stories of readers!  Listen for yourself!