From Jonathan Abrams’ engaging analysis of the prep-to-pro generation in Boys Among Men to Mike Carey’s haunting biography of renegade baller Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, 2016 has been a strong year for quality basketball writing. As opening night of the NBA season rapidly approaches, veteran scribe Mike Monroe offers the perfect primer for Spurs faithful, aptly titled 100 Things Spurs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.
Clocking in at a brisk 278 pages, Monroe’s new book features colorful profiles of the most memorable personalities in Spurs history, while chronicling the franchise’s unforgettable moments. Admittedly and rightly so, the majority of Monroe’s focus is spent on the celebrated exploits of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, David Robinson, and George Gervin, who he recognizes as “the five most important players in franchise history,” along with Gregg Popovich who he dubs “the most important head coach.”
Monroe excels when exploring the origins of the Spurs in San Anto, which he attributes to “shared plates of enchiladas and bottles of cold beer” with the team’s former director of media relations Wayne Witt. For every Red McCombs and Angelo Drossos, there’s a Jack Ankerson, whose love for the Oakland Raiders led to the Spurs silver and black color scheme, or Eulalia Ramon, who suggested the team name via a fan contest.
Current Spurs including Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Danny Green are given their due and fan favorites from over the years ranging from Malik Rose, to Stephen Jackson, and yes, Dennis Rodman share a glimpse of the spotlight. Monroe attributes Rodman’s departure to a promise made by Popovich to Brigadier General Robert McDermott when Pop was hired to coach the Spurs.
A longtime fixture on press row in San Antonio, Monroe has covered every NBA Finals game that the Spurs have appeared in. He documented Tim Duncan’s inaugural campaign in NBA Rookie Experience for NBA Publications, and in 2014, he became just the second recipient of the Professional Basketball Writers Association’s Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award.
Regarded by fellow reporters as an authority on Spurs history, Monroe shares his encyclopedic basketball knowledge in straightforward digestible doses, with flashes of over five decades covering pro hoops expertly parsed. Packed with stats, an “Ultimate Spurs Fan Trivia Quiz,” and a recurring bucket list of sorts, 100 Things Spurs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die offers vibrant basketball nostalgia for casual and die-hard Spurs enthusiasts alike.