Basketball On The Internet.

Sponsored by:

AllStar Photos

Specialising in Action, Team and Portrait Photography.


Advertising opportunities available.
Please contact me.

Ballin' is their callin': Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Entertaining, informative and just sufficiently irreverent but not to anyone's detriment, Huw Beynon's "Ballin' in Black: Our Tall Blacks Test Centurions" is a terrific new basketball tome from across the Tasman.

The premise is the individual stories of those men who have represented New Zealand's Tall Blacks in at least 100 Test matches - a Test defined as a basketball match involving two countries' national teams.

That therefore eliminates matches against college teams and brings Beynon to the 11 men who have worn the hallowed Tall Blacks uniform, usually at the highest of international levels.

We're talking here specifically about Dillon Boucher (100), Tony Rampton (102), Tom Abercrombie (102*), Mark Dickel (106), Casey Frank (111), Lindsay Tait (116), Paul Henare (125), Mika Vukona (151), Phill Jones (163), Kirk Penney (172) and Pero Cameron (191).

As you might expect, each story is unique and traverses quite a range of emotions, from hiding in the back of a mother's car, to almost dying on court, living in a janitor's closet or taking it to China's (and the Houston Rockets') Yao Ming.

Beynon has a unique style with sideline asides dotting most pages. These range from the informative, to the amusing, to the surprising and some, well, just flat-out funny. I must confess, when I started reading the book, I initially found these asides slightly annoying but by halfway through the second chapter, I was looking forward to each new one and revelling in the insight or silliness each captured.

Guess you need something of a warped sense of humour because Beynon's quips and facts actually became one of the book's highlights and strengths.

To read the back stories of basketballing legends such as Pero Cameron, Kirk Penney and Phill Jones was a buzz for me as an avid fan of all of them.

But it was every bit as interesting finding out about Mark Dickel (right), Paul Henare, Mika Vukona and Casey Frank.

Ah, who am I kidding? All of them had good stories and having them told was long overdue.

"This book exists to tell you about great New Zealand sportspeople who we should all know about," Beynon reveals. "Not just their stats but their stories, where they come from, what shaped them, what guided them, what mistakes they made and what feats they conquered."

Naturally, New Zealand's performance at the 2002 FIBA World Championship to reach the Bronze Medal playoff, with Cameron named in the tournament's All-Star Five, features prominently throughout the book and so it should.

Beynon (pictured below) started his career as a sports reporter for 3News, covering the Breakers' NBL threepeat and since 2016 has been Sky Sports' primary basketball presenter.

Available through Bateman Books - you can find it via - I have no hesitation in recommending "Ballin' in Black" to any basketball fan, not just New Zealanders, as it also captures the qualities that perpetuate the Tall Blacks culture.

Many of the players plied their trade in the NBL and, frankly, we can never have enough books about basketball. Though in any subsequent reprint, I'd suggest the reference to Melbourne Tigers import Lamar Copeland maybe could be upgraded to Lanard.

Jun 7

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.