Since Central Minnesota is a basketball hotbed, I want to mention a book-signing I went to a couple of weeks ago at the big book store in St. Cloud.
I’d never been to a book-signing before, but was drawn because I knew the author. I was also attracted because it was one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments.
The author, Shawn Fury, was an excellent high school basketball player at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton when I managed the newspaper there, and he went on to be a sports writer in Fargo and Worthington before moving to New York to write books.
His latest book, “Rise and Fire” presents the history of that basketball staple, the jump shot. In writing the book, Fury went on what can only be described as a basketball fan’s dream sabbatical, traveling the nation to interview basketball greats who helped make the game what it is today. — people like Jerry West (no relation unfortunately), Bob McAdoo, Dominique Wilkins, etc.
Fury told me he was headed to Indiana the next week to do a book-signing with Jimmy Rayl, the thin as a rail Hoosier, who set the Big Ten single game scoring record in 1962 with 56 points against, who else, the Gophers in OT. When fans sniffed he was helped by overtime, he did it again, this time in regulation, against Michigan State.
Fury had another signing planned with Rick Mount, an All-American in the late ‘60s from Purdue who once cleaned a carnival booth out of stuffed animals with a memorable shooting display.
Not only was the book a blast to write, it’s a blast to read. Melrose’s Mark Olberding even gets a mention, although only in the context of losing to Chisholm in the 1973 state finals. Hoops fans should check it out.