Benjamin Markovits

Benjamin Markovits’s new novel, The Sidekick, is about the complicated relationship between a sports writer and an NBA star.

Author website.

Lancelot v. Galahad: Basketball Narratives

Benjamin Markovits, 21 July 2022

The​ UK was in the middle of its first lockdown when The Last Dance, a ten-part documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, was released by Netflix and ESPN. The idea was presumably to coincide with the beginning of the NBA playoffs in April 2020, but as things turned out the series filled the gap created by the suspension of live basketball after the league shut down in March. Fans and...

From The Blog
23 June 2022

There was an argument heading into this year’s NBA Finals about whether Stephen Curry needed to win a Finals MVP (most valuable player) to fill out his resumé.

From The Blog
18 March 2022

Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire makes his stand on the sanctity of the Sabbath. It seems basically crazy to give up a chance at Olympic gold just because you don’t want to run on Sunday. Yet he holds his nerve and we’re supposed to respect him for it, even if I always preferred the Jewish guy, whose main problem is that he has to fight against England’s gentlemanly commitment to mediocrity. 

From The Blog
29 July 2021

In my last year at university, I got the name of a European basketball agent who could help me land a job after graduation. He gave me a list of Americans already playing overseas. I called one of them and asked him what it was like playing in Europe. His answer reminded me of John Travolta’s line from Pulp Fiction, about ‘the little differences’. ‘They’ve got the skills and everything,’ he said. ‘But they don’t have that attitude, do you know what I mean? That edge …’ 

From The Blog
31 December 2020

On the LRB podcast a few weeks ago, David Runciman and I got into a discussion about the ‘hot hand’ phenomenon. He wrote about it in the London Review in 2006, in a piece on José Mourinho:

The quintessential instance … occurs in basketball, where certain players suddenly and inexplicably acquire the ability to nail three-point baskets one after another (in basketball you get three points for any basket scored from a distance of over 23'9", a formidably difficult feat which means even the best players miss more often than they score).

With the start of the NBA season last week, I’ve been thinking about it again (actually, I think about this stuff pretty much year round, but the season is a good excuse to talk about it). As David wrote in his piece, statisticians will tell you there’s no such thing as a hot streak.

Suicidal Piston Device: Being Lord Byron

Susan Eilenberg, 5 April 2007

He could dig no deeper than a grave, six feet perhaps of fractured soil, before the battering instrument began to turn upon itself. [It] sought to bury its body in the reluctant ground...

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