Saturday, December 05, 2009

Reviewing "The Book of Basketball"

I've just completed Bill Simmons's 700+ page tome, plainly titled The Book of Basketball, and I thought it might be fun to review it.

But let's get something out of the way first. You need to know at the outset that nothing written in this book can be taken seriously in light of a footnote on page 555, in which Simmons lists his "Mount Rushmore" of fast-food restaurants: "Chik-fil-a, Subway, Panda Express, and Arby's. In-N-Out would have made it if their fries didn't suck."

Is he serious? Arby's? Taking the burger slot on Mount Rushmore ahead of In-N-Out? That Arby's? (Michael Bluth might say, "Her?") The place that sells sweaty roast beef sandwiches? The eatery whose signature condiment is named after a "horsey"?

I can't begin to describe how poor a decision this is. This is a restaurant that until very recently would give you five sandwiches for five dollars and be happy to get the five dollars. In-N-Out is an icon; Arby's is an also-ran. If you told me I had two options, with option one being paying $20 to eat a double-double Animal burger from In-N-Out and option two being you paying me $10 to eat any sandwich from Arby's, I would choose option one a hundred times out of a hundred.

Not only is Arby's not better than In-N-Out; it's not even better than McDonald's—which is third among national chains behind Wendy's and Burger King. In fact, Arby's isn't even better than Jack in the Box (a.k.a. "E. Coli in the Box") or Carl's Jr. I'd rather eat at Roy Rogers than at Arby's. I'm incredulous.

To put this in basketball terms, it would be like saying you'd rather have Juwan Howard than Tim Duncan. Worse: this would be like making an all-time starting five and choosing Shawn Bradley as your center. Arby's is a one-tool player, only the one tool is winning jump balls (curly fries). Sure, that's great, no one's arguing your'e the best at that, but you're not winning games that way. In-N-Out could never win a jump ball (their fries are marginally disappointing), but they're scoring 45 a game in the playoffs.

Actually, you know what? I'm not even going to review the rest of the book, which I enjoyed, because that footnote was so disconcerting.

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