With all due respect to Michael Lewis’ “The Blind Side” and Jeff Pearlman’s underrated “Love Me, Hate Me : Barry Bonds & The Making Of An Anti-Hero”, my pick for sportstastic-tome of ’06 is Jack McCallum’s “:07 Seconds Or Less.” The author’s ridiculously unfettered access to Mike D’Antoni, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, heck, even Pat Burke, makes for a gripping account of Phoenix’s 2005-06 campaign, their playoff run (and 7 game series with the Lakers in particular).  And while many passages from this book have been quoted far and wide, the following, just might be my favorite.

Stories get into (assistant coach) Alvin Gentry’s head and never leave. He tells one from Miami, about a player named Ladell Eckles who stood up during a team meeting and wrote on the board : “No Your roll.” Glen Rice said, “Sit down, dumb ass.”

He tells the story of B.J. Armstrong coming to Charlotte and being greeted by Anthony Mason (above), a noted thug on the court. Gentry really rolls on this one.

“So, Anthony Mason tells B.J., ‘Yo man, we all get together and pray after the game.’

“B.J. says, ‘Well, thats cool, but it’s not my style. I got my own beliefs and stuff.’

“But, see, this isn’t good enough for Anthony. ‘Nah, man we do it after games. As a team.’ And B.J. still says, ‘Sorry, man.’

“So, Anthony’s getting more and more angry, and he says, ‘So, you ain’t going to pray with us?’ And B.J. says ‘Sorry, but…’

“So now, Mason cuts him off. ‘Well, fuck you, motherfucker if you ain’t going to pray with us.'”