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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

March 01, 1992|KAREN STABINER

ELEVATING THE GAME: Black Men and Basketball by Nelson George (HarperCollins: $20; 261 pp.) Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball 100 years ago, at a YMCA in Springfield, Mass. It took another 59 years before a black man was allowed to play the game professionally, even though, as with baseball, there was a thriving circuit of barnstorming teams, and even greater enthusiasm in schoolyards around the country. Since Earl Lloyd joined the Boston Celtics in 1950, professional basketball has become a sport dominated by black athletes, from Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, too briefly, Magic Johnson. Author Nelson George, who has previously written a biography of Michael Jackson and "The Death of Rhythm and Blues," attempts here to provide more than just the history of the sport; he traces the social history of blacks in the sport, their tragedies as well as their more publicized successes.

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