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Charley’s Crazy Basketball Association

Crazy Basketball: A Life In and Out of Bounds
Charley Rosen
University of Nebraska Press (April 2011)

CBA stands for Continental Basketball Association to the general population or Crazy Basketball Association if you are Charley Rosen, author of more than a dozen books and former coach in the now-defunct league.

Rosen’s personal account of his time in the league was written in the same style as it seemed his career played out: fast-paced, fanatical and broken up by snippets of good-natured humor. Rosen is currently known as an author and analyst for Fox Sports, but longtime basketball followers might remember this oversized suit roaming the sideline for many CBA teams throughout his career.

Starting with the Albany Patroons alongside Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson and finishing with the same franchise, Rosen retells stories of success and strife in the lower-class basketball league. The reader can tell Rosen has a true passion for the game and his players, and his accounts range from game stories to ref-blasting.

The book is well-written, which is no surprise, and is again indicative of Rosen’s time in the league. He is forthcoming and expressive in the book, which the reader can tell is his personality; he doesn’t hold anything back.

But as much as the book is about his time playing and coaching – his relationship with basketball – it is also about Rosen discovering his true calling, as a writer. Though his passion is clearly the game, as described in the last chapter, “Beyond Basketball,” Jackson summed it up best in his book, More Than A Game, co-authored with Rosen:

“Although I can’t exactly say when I fully realized this, I always had the feeling that Charley had more to offer our society through his talents as a writer. It’s generally acknowledged that he’s the sport’s greatest champion when it comes to translating the game basketball into words that capture its spirit.”

And though Rosen eventually realizes this as well, it was his time spent in the CBA with the experiences and struggles he encountered that shaped his approach to life, which is clear in his writing.

Crazy Basketball was a great read, for any casual basketball lover, insight into the former crazy league, but also a crazy coach who was a touch softened by it. For Rosen, it was not only the Crazy Basketball Association but his crazy association with basketball.

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