Best Seat in the House: A Basketball Memoir

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Crown Publishing Group, May 1, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 327 pages
11 Reviews
"Best Seat in the House," Spike Lee's evocative and compelling basketball memoir, interweaves several journeys over a course of thirty years. The first is professional basketball's metamorphosis from a fringe sport whose championship games would air tape-delayed at 11:30 p.m., after the local news had already given the scores, to become the big-money sports spectacular it is today, filled with outrageously inflated salaries and egos. The other journey is that of Shelton Jackson Lee himself, who has gone from a skinny kid playing ball on the streets of Brooklyn, sneaking into Madison Square Garden to watch his beloved Knicks, to Morehouse College and NYU film school, to being a world-renowned film director and hoops fan. The book charts Spike's artistic journey from his first college film (Super 8), called "Last Hustle in Brooklyn," and his gradual move down from the raucous, nosebleed blue seats just below the Garden's rafters, closer and closer to the on-court action until, in the year "Malcolm X" was released, Spike landed the coveted courtside seats he has today - the best seats in the house. From there, his blue-seat emotions, transplanted to within arm's reach of the action, have led to numerous confrontations with refs and opposing players - some of them public, like the notorious Reggie Miller incident - but most never before discussed. Along the way Spike takes readers on entertaining and provocative detours, including a one-on-one with that other film-directing, Brooklyn-born, Garden-inhabiting hoops fan, Woody Allen; reviews of sports movies (Spike has seen them all, and the results aren't pretty); an unusually candid and revelatory interview with Michael Jordan; and astark assessment of the role of African-American athletes both in the big business of sports and in the broader culture.

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I loved this book! It taught me so much and i thoroughly enjoyed it!

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User Review  - Sue Kozlowski - Goodreads

Non-fiction. His real name is Shelton Lee. So much about basketball! He is so angry I learned a lot about the Knicks. Read full review


PreGame Introductions
First Quarter 17
Second Quarter 103

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About the author (1998)

Directing, writing, and starring in his own films, as did Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles before him, Lee has arguably had almost as profound an influence on American filmmaking as his predecessors, although in very different ways. In his own words, he is good at "marketing," and what he has marketed is a highly politicized African American cinema that is also commercially viable. Many critics credit Lee with paving the way for a new wave of mass-market yet socially conscious filmmakers, including John Singleton, Charles Lane, and Carl Franklin. The eldest of six children, Lee was educated first at Morehouse College and then at New York University's film school. His first feature release, She's Gotta Have It (1986), won the Prix de Jeunesse at Cannes and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful in the United States. Lee went on to make School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989), a technically sophisticated film that addressed racism in a complex and controversial fashion. The film constructs a narrative that leaves it to the viewer to decide whether its protagonist, Mookie, has done the right thing when he responds to the death of one of his friends at the hands of the police by throwing a trash can through the window of his employer, who had called the police in the first place. Because a riot ensues, many (white) critics argued that the film celebrated violence, and the press suggested that it would incite black spectators to riot (it did not). Other critics suggested that Mookie actually defuses a riot, by directing the community's anger toward property and away from the police. Two years later, Lee tackled the subject of interracial relationships in another hotly debated film, Jungle Fever (1991), which some saw as preachy and sexist and others praised as bold and complex. However, his most recent and ambitious film, Malcolm X (1992), has been almost universally acclaimed. Lee has published a companion text for each film that includes biographies of all of the principals, essays on such topics as guerilla filmmaking, production stills, details of salaries and finances, excerpts from his journal or production notes, and the script. These materials demystify production, advertise the talents of the people who work for him, and promote his political positions, particularly his commitment to black entrepreneurship and cultural self-expression.

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