Uncategorized | April 25, 2006

We can admit that when we think of the National Basketball Association we don’t exactly think “classic literature”–unless, of course, you count Wilt Chamberlain’s autobiography or Dennis Rodman’s tattoos. But both the NBA and Penguin Classics share this in common–they were launched in 1946 and this year they’re celebrating 60 years in the business. So the NBA and Penguin are conducting a joint advertising campaign to encourage people to “Aim High. Live Classic.” (First, there were throwback jerseys; will we now have throwback novels?)

The ad campaign will feature stars of the NBA (and the Women’s National Basketball Association), current and former, such as Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen, and Magic Johnson, pictured reading from their favorite Penguin Classics. Magic’s choice? Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Wade? Pride and Prejudice. Yes, that Pride and Prejudice. “Reading the classics,” says Wade, “is like opening a door to a world that at first looks so different from mine but, when I look closer, is filled with people who struggle with the same things I do.”

In an article in The New York Times, Kathy Behrens, senior vice president for NBA community and player programs in New York explains that the “term ‘old-school’ has become a compliment rather than a putdown, representing a real and authentic life style worth emulating.”

So put down that Candace Bushnell. Trade in that James Frey. Get yourself some Melville or Hawthorne, or maybe a little Kate Chopin and Henry James. It’s what all the kids will be sporting next season.