For the most devoted sports fans, there is no shortage of avenues to explore the machinations behind what we see on television or in the stadiums. With an Internet connection and a library card, the devoted follower can plumb the depths of all manner of statistics, anecdotes, legends and game analysis. The only risk (aside from alienating your loved ones as you sink all your free time into your fantasy league team) is that you could learn more than you’d like to know.
The NBA is no exception; Despite (or more likely because of) the fairy tale-esque ascension of superstars along the lines of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, only the most naive of fans would think that the path to professional basketball is free of backroom dealings, player manipulation and straight-ahead politics. George Dohrmann, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 while at the St. Paul Pioneer Press for his exposé of academic fraud in the men’s basketball program at the University of Minnesota.
A couple of years later, after writing a story for Sports Illustrated about corruption in sports that led to no consequences for the unethical coaches, Dohrmann set himself to digging deeper into grass-roots basketball to find some answers.