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Evaluation of Shake & Bake

Kuska, Bob with Archie Clark. Shake & Bake: The Life and Occasions of NBA Nice Archie Clark. Lincoln: College of Nebraska Press, 2021. Pp. 352. $29.95. hardback and book.

Reviewed by Łukasz Muniowski

Archie Clark just isn’t the primary, second, or third identify that involves thoughts when discussing NBA greats. He didn’t make the NBA 50th or 75th Anniversary Groups. His quantity was not retired by an NBA franchise. He didn’t win a single NBA Championship. After being chosen within the fourth spherical of the 1966 NBA Draft, the two-time All-Star performed within the league for 10 seasons.

So… why was he nice?

College of Nebraska Press, 2021.

In a way, Clark was one in all many––a starter on a lot of groups and an important contributor off the bench on others. There seemingly was nothing distinctive about his profession. After all, it is perhaps argued that anyone making the league––not to mention two All-Star groups––was a traditionally nice basketball participant. The primary promoting level of Clark’s semi-autobiography is that he was on quite a few groups on the cusp of greatness, sharing the locker room with a number of big-name gamers.

Written with Bob Kuska, Clark’s Shake & Bake: The Life and Occasions of NBA Nice Archie Clark supplies the reader with a behind-the-scenes take a look at the likes of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and head coach Gene Shue, to call a number of. The second in historical past when he entered the league, the late Nineteen Sixties, additionally was a particular time within the NBA, with a generational shift occurring with the retirement of Invoice Russell and the growing old of Wilt Chamberlain. Clark’s story reveals that there was extra to the league than simply the 2 giants, standing above all people else.

At age 24, Clark was older than most rookies when he entered the NBA. However this maturity predisposed him to make an impression instantly upon arrival. The skilled expectations for Clark have been comparatively low, because the Lakers, the group that drafted him, didn’t even hassle to seek out him a spot to remain when he arrived in Los Angeles together with his household. Early on in Shake & Bake, it turns into evident that, whereas Clark was an important participant, he was not handled by his friends with the identical respect that nice gamers are showered with at present. Though he needed to face vital adversity, that’s what makes his story so partaking, highlighting the issues that gifted athletes needed to face throughout the NBA-ABA rivalry.

The ability wrestle between the 2 leagues is on the forefront of his narrative, because it allowed gamers to strengthen their positions in contract negotiations. The pay disparity between the most effective gamers on a group and people on the finish of the bench was vital, with the largest names making a whole lot of 1000’s of {dollars} per season whereas rookies chosen late within the draft, like Clark, earned round $800 monthly after taxes. This meant that gamers have been compelled to search for summer season jobs, as groups didn’t take additional care of them outdoors of offering transportation to away video games. The monopoly that the NBA had over skilled basketball gave the house owners dominion over the gamers, superstars included. Even free brokers weren’t completely free as a result of their groups anticipated compensation from their future employers when their contracts ran out. That was till the ABA appeared.

The ABA’s sole existence was sufficient to scare NBA groups. They quickly started providing bigger contracts to rookies, hoping to draw and retain an inflow of younger expertise. This brought about a rift between rookies and the older, established gamers who had helped make the league what it was. It’s comprehensible they have been offended for not being correctly compensated for his or her work. In consequence, normal managers needed to pay their stars below the desk, oftentimes to maintain them from complaining to the press. Different gamers, nevertheless, have been expendable, or not less than they have been made to really feel as such. Of particular curiosity is the story of how Wilt Chamberlain, in technique of being traded from the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers to the Lakers, acquired his want when negotiating his contract together with his new NBA group. The ABA’s Los Angeles Stars supplied Chamberlain the primary million-dollar basketball deal, pushing the Lakers to match the supply from the rival league. On the opposite aspect of the deal was Clark, who was presupposed to be part of the return package deal to the Sixers for the “Massive Dipper.” Clark used the commerce as leverage to get a bigger contract, as Philadelphia actually needed him. And Clark needed to earn more cash.

The transfer to Pennsylvania damage Clark’s profession. He discovered himself bumping heads with coach Jack Ramsay, as the previous Saint Joseph’s head coach had a tough time adapting to teaching skilled gamers. The e-book reveals a special aspect of Ramsay, who, as coach of the Portland Path Blazers, was immortalized in David Halberstam’s The Breaks of the Sport. Kuska and Clark, in distinction, depict him as a nasty decide of expertise, sacrificing particular person gamers for the nice of the group. It’s obvious that Ramsay skilled critical rising pains when with the Sixers, evolving into a special, higher coach when he took over the Path Blazers.

Nonetheless, the truth that Kuska takes Clark’s aspect in all of the disagreements and debates mentioned within the e-book leaves a considerably adverse impression. One such instance is the purpose guard’s appreciation of Chamberlain and criticism of his on-court archrival Invoice Russell, who had moved on to teaching the Seattle Tremendous Sonics, for whom Clark would play for a season. Too usually, evidently Clark, by Kuska, is making an attempt to settle previous scores moderately than current the occasions in an goal, advanced method. Whereas that is comprehensible, as it’s in any case a certified biography/autobiography––with anecdotes produced by Clark himself, talking in his personal voice, previous the chapters––the leniency is at occasions off-putting.

However, the perception into the NBA of the late Nineteen Sixties and Seventies––from the machinations behind trades and contracts to the choices made concerning the course of the league––make Shake & Bake a worthwhile learn for any NBA historian. In context of at present’s age of participant empowerment, it’s instructive to see the way it lengthy has been essential for gamers to have their say in the place they wish to work. Likewise, the account encourages appreciation for the adjustments the league subsequently would bear to profit these round which the NBA product revolves––the gamers and the followers.

The darker occasions described in Shake & Bake function mementos, reminding how arduous it was for gamers like Clark, Wes Unseld, or Spencer Haywood to even give attention to basketball, with so many inconveniences concerned in really getting onto the court docket. The challenges encountered by gamers of earlier eras prolonged to issues about their normal wellbeing, whether or not resulting from neglectful teaching and possession selections or the unadvanced state of sports activities drugs and harm rehabilitation. Contemplating these less-than-ideal circumstances, the careers of star gamers can appear all of the extra unlikely, thus making them deserve extra respect that they get in a up to date sports activities tradition that usually falls prey to recency bias.

The identical goes for Archie Clark who was, in actual fact, an NBA nice.

Łukasz Muniowski recieved his Ph.D. in American Literature from the College of Warsaw. He’s the creator of Three-Pointer! A 40-Yr NBA Historical past (McFarland, 2020), Narrating the NBA: Representations of Main Gamers after the Michael Jordan Period (Lexington, 2021), and The Sixth Man: A Historical past of the NBA Off the Bench (McFarland, 2021)


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