Must Read: American Hoops--Carson Cunningham

  • American Hoops: U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball from Berlin to Beijing (2009) by Carson Cunningham

    This is the best non muck raking basketball I have ever read by several orders of magnitude. This is the game’s Rosetta Stone.

    Cunningham played college basketball and in the CBA.

    But more importantly he got a Ph.d. in history at Purdue and an MBA at DePaul, so he has the research, writing, and business administration research skills to research, document and write about what he was caught up in as a player. I learned more basketball history in one chapter of his book about the 1964 Olympic team and an extended discourse on Hank Iba’s career in the game tha in all the other basketball histories I have read.

    He writes clearly. He knows exactly what matters and he miraculously went to the horses mouths that knew who did what when and where. Just his discussion of Phil Knights’ Stanford graduate school research, awareness of knock offs of adidas shoes in the orient, trips to Japan looking for a cheap way to produce a shoe, his discovery of a Japanese company with a patent on a suction cup sole already making the shoe with the cheap labor he envisioned, and his alliance with that company, help put Big Shoe in a vital new legacy perspective.

    Carson Cunningham has made a huge contribution to the game.

    Click here for a summary of what else Cunningham has written.

  • @jaybate-1.0 said:

    Carson Cunningham

    I bet he studied under Randy Roberts? Purdue history department has a strong sports history focus. My brother is there now writing his dissertation on OU’s Bud Wilkinson’s “steak.”

    Bud actually got into republican politics after his coaching days at OU and one might be able to make the argument played a role in the rise of conservative politics in the sunbelt. Likewise, one might also be able to make the claim he helped foster the development of Oklahoma’s aviation industry.

    It’s funny how illuminating works of cultural historians can be. My brother and I have talked at length about how someone needs to tell the story of the triumph of capitalism through a sports perspective.

    Somewhat related – check out the book Sneaker Wars if you have not already. It tells the story about Puma and Adidas.

  • @mdm7eb

    Thanks for responding. I had no idea any history departments had a sports history focus. How great is that!!! Will they take a aging Ph.d. candidate addicted to aricept and KU basketball? 🙂

    Totally agree about cultural history’s illuminating aspect.

    Go for the triumph of capitalism angle, but as someone that has read quite a bit of economic history, try to recognize that capitalism has been evolving along three tracks:

    1.) from a diverse producer market capitalism to an oligopoly producer market capitalism;

    2.) from globalization 1.0, to Regionalization 1.0; to Globalization 2.0; to Regionalization 2.0; and

    3.) from an owner centric-capitalism to a management-centric capitalism.

    If you track the evolution of sport down these three simultaneous tracks from about 1890 to present, you will have a very informative book.

    Sneaker Wars I read.

Log in to reply