Now that the NBA Playoffs have begun, Elevated: The Global Rise of the NBA arrives at the perfect time. The book takes a look at the history of the league through the lens of the New York Times writers who have covered the sports over the decades, as edited and annotated by Harvey Araton. Due to the nature of the book, you won’t find one specific writing style throughout. Although, there’s a high level of quality to the writing and you get a look at how the writers have changed their approach to covering the sport as new things like social media came into play.
Since I’m someone who doesn’t have a subscription to the New York Times, I otherwise would not have been able to read many of these articles. It’s an excellent chance for NBA fans to get a look into how devoted one publication was to covering a variety of teams, not just the ones in the New York area. You’ll find articles from the 1970s, to ones as recent as 2018, and everything in between. However, don’t expect the story to unfold in chronological order.
Elevated is split into sections that tackle certain topics, instead of telling things from the beginning. I think either option would have sufficed to tell the story of how the NBA has grown over the years, so it wasn’t crucial to have them in chronological order. From Bill Russell’s days to the Showtime Lakers, to LeBron’s career, this book gives a well-rounded look at the decades of basketball that have been played at a professional level.
You can tell how the internet age has impacted the amount of access you have to players through the progression of the articles. While you won’t find the kind of long-form, profile pieces that have become more common, you still get enough of the critical details. The league has changed so much over the years, and you can essentially feel how those changes affected everyone involved.
Comparing players is something that will never stop. However, I’m of the belief that because of how different things are in the NBA in 2019, you can’t compare LeBron James to Bill Russell or Magic Johnson. Other players expressed their sentiment about how the game has moved away from post play and is all about the outside shot now. Of course, some of the players from the 70s and 80s wouldn’t do well in today’s game. Things are just too different, and you see every bit of that difference through the lens of these various writers.
It isn’t surprising that the New York Times has maintained a high quality of sports writing for decades. Not everything has to do with the ins and outs of the NBA either. Some articles touch on the rap albums that players have released over the years, which doesn’t have much to do with actually playing the sport.
Without giving away the details of what exact articles you’ll read in the book, there’s something for every NBA fan to enjoy. This was a breeze to read through and a joy, as well. While I do wish more women wrote about the NBA for the Times over the years, the writing compiled is wonderful, and you’ll find plenty of familiar names if you’ve paid any attention to NBA journalism.