Title/Author:“Game Face: A Lifetime of Hard – Earned Lessons On and Off the Basketball Court” by Bernard King with Jerome Preisler
Tags:Basketball, professional, memoir, Nets, Warriors, Jazz, Knicks
Publish date:November 7, 2017
Rating:4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review:Bernard King is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and was one of the most prolific scorers during his sixteen year career, with his best seasons occurring when he played for the New York Knicks. He recovered from serious knee surgery at a time when that type of injury meant the end of a career. In addition, he was known as an extremely private person during his playing days, rarely opening up to the media about any personal issues.
In this memoir written with Jerome Preisler, King opens up about his childhood and the feelings of self-doubt that were always present in his life, even when basketball took him to places he never thought he would reach, such as college (University of Tennessee) and back home to New York. As a Brooklyn kid, he talks about his experiences in the schools and playgrounds in the area and how he vowed to do what he could to avoid the temptations of the streets.
He also opens up about problems that plagued him during his college and professional careers, namely alcoholism and its associated issues. He thanks his first agent for assisting him in getting the help he needed to overcome those issues as well. King’s openness about these matters is something that he would rarely do in the public spotlight, so a reader can only imagine how tough it must have been for him to talk about these subject. He covers a lot of ground in these areas, but there is not a lot of detail or too much anger or self-pity. These sections came across as his account of what happened, what he did to address them and not much else.
The same can’t be said for when King writes about his basketball skills, however. It is clear how much he still loves the game and the vivid memory he has for many of his career highlights. This is true from his time playing in high school to his days at Tennessee, when he teamed with Ernie Grunfeld to form the “Bernie and Ernie Show” to his NBA career. He was drafted by the New Jersey Nets where he became a scoring machine early. He later played for the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz before joining the Knicks where his star shone the greatest. At each stop, he has mostly kind words for teammates, coaches and front office people. This is true even if his experience with the team was not so great, such as his time in Utah. It matches the rest of the book because it has a very positive, upbeat feeling even when King is discussing low points in his life.
Serious basketball fans will love the detail with which King describes the action on the court. Whether it is describing plays that coaches draw on the board, elbows thrown by opponents such as Bob Lanier and Maurice Lucas or the sweet jump shot that made him a scoring machine, the book is chock full of game action. Casual fans who have heard about him but wish to know more will also enjoy this book.
I wish to thank Da Capo Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:E-book (Paperback)