Read from the introduction of American Hoops: U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball from Berlin to Beijing by Carson Cunningham:
"Over the past eighty years, basketball’s sweeping international growth has come about because of the creativity and acumen of individuals on and off the court. The history of the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Olympic Games shows this in striking fashion.
Drama packs this tale. So too do victory, loss, and redemption. Major issues arise, such as the impact of basketball and its superstars on popular culture in a world where free, socialist, and authoritarian countries compete for people’s hearts and minds. The tale resonates on personal levels as well. Take U.S. Olympic basketball players Joe Fortenberry and Sam Balter at the original 1936 tournament. Not too long after coming back from those Games, Fortenberry would serve in the U.S. military in its effort to turn back Hitler. And Balter, a Jewish American basketball player, would decide that because of Hitler’s horrificness he should not have even attended those Games.
Tracing the story of U.S. Olympic men’s basketball reveals how hard the players work, the simple joy to be found in playing, coaching, or watching the sport, and much as well about the dynamic relationship basketball fosters between individuality and teamwork. The tale highlights the pride players have felt in representing the United States but also the racism that some of those very same players have had to confront in their home country."
Carson Cunningham played basketball at Purdue University and professionally in the Continental Basketball Association and in two leagues overseas. He currently teaches history at DePaul University.
To read a longer excerpt or to purchase American Hoops, visit http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/American-Hoops,674141.aspx.