This week in Zoe Mungin’s Great Stories: The How and Why, students read a piece of sports journalism by Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division. In Laymon’s report, published at ESPN, we get the story of Poughkeepsie basketball phenom D’Andre Brown, whose career takes him from New York State’s Hudson Valley all the way to a professional league in Mongolia. Laymon and Brown, the story reveals, have known each other over a decade, and the piece reminds me in this respect of John McPhee’s great story about his friend Bill Bradley, the former Princeton star and New York Knick, who also served as a U.S Senator from New Jersey.
Here’s one intimate exchange between Laymon and Brown from the story:
“I’m a baller,” he tells me, sitting outside the gym where we met 10 years ago. “That’s all people need to know. That’s my profession.”
“So what,” I tell him. “The kind of balling you do, isn’t that more like a part-time job? Don’t you want to actually have a profession?”
“I have a profession,” he smirks. “I told you. I’m a baller.”
“You get insurance for balling?” I ask him. “Professions usually come with insurance.”
“I’m doing what makes me happy and healthy,” he tells me. “And I’m getting paid for it.”