Heroes: A Novel

Simon & Schuster, 1984

Excerpt

There has always been some strange connection for me between basketball and the dark.

I started shooting hoops after school in the third grade, and I remember dusk and macadam combining into the sensation that the world was dying but I was indestructible. I played all the time, in all seasons, instead of other sports, played until my sad, mousy, immaculate mother stopped long enough from showing houses to take me home. In fifth grade I developed a double pump jump shot, which in the fifth grade is almost unheard of.

Rather than shooting on the way up, as everyone else did, I tucked my knees, hung in the air a second, pinwheeled the ball, then shot on the way down. My friends hated my new move. It seemed tough, mannered, teenage, vaguely Negro. I don’t know how or why I started shooting differently. I must have grown weary sometimes waiting for Mom to drive by, or Dad to return from his unsuccessful tennis road trips, or maybe it was my attempt to copy the Drake players I watched at Veterans Auditorium. The more I shot like this the more my friends disliked me, and the more they disliked me the more I shot like this. It was the only thing about me that was at all unusual, and it came to be my trademark, even my nickname. Double Bubble Biederman.

 

Awards

  • Copernicius Society Fellowship

 

Reviews

“[Heroes is] that rare thing, a really good sports novel that does with basketball what Mark Harris or Bernard Malamud did with baseball: make the passion, pull and mythological grace of the game integral to the characters.”–Chicago Tribune

“A generous novel about those two great American preoccupations, Lost Innocence and Sports.”–James Marcus, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Like a good point guard, Mr. Shields knows how to control the flow of a game.”—Arthur Krystal, The New York Times Book Review

“This is as good a novel—as well written a novel—centering on Dr. Naismith’s game as any I’ve read.”—Ira Berkow (from the foreword)

Heroes is the only literate fiction ever written about basketball.”—W.P. Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe

“I think Heroes is a terrific book. I stayed up over Christmas reading it, and I’m recommending it to friends.  Shields has a wonderful human touch.”—Bob Greene, San Francisco Chronicle