After reading a bunch of basketball books not related to the Bulls, I picked up a copy of Butterbeatn - When Glory Is Just A Whisper from the library to read this week. The book chronicles the story of Bob Love, perhaps the third best player in franchise history.
I went into this book knowing next to nothing about Bob Love, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Given the era he played in, I expected something along the lines of his dealing with racism throughout his career, and the back cover made it clear that Love had a serious stuttering problem which hampered him for much of his life.
What I found somewhat disappointing about this book was that it had relatively few quotes from Love, and it clearly didn't detail his life through his own eyes. Through the first 100 pages of the book, Love is barely even mentioned, and as it reaches the second half of the book Love's story is told largely through the eyes of people in his life rather than Love himself.
Given the relative lack of input from Love, and an author who wasn't experiencing events first hand, the book lacked a feeling of authenticity. Many of what would have been the interesting stories in the book were just glossed over entirely.
For example, Love's mother left him with his grandmother and moved away early in his life. They claim he wasn't abandoned, but then his mother never surfaces again until the last couple pages where as a foot note, it's mentioned that she lives in poverty and implies a lack of a relationship with Love. Maybe there's nothing going on with this story, maybe Bob didn't want to go there, but I was left wondering what was going on with it.
Also, Love's relationships with his two wives were glossed over very lightly with his first wife leaving him due to Love cheating and his second wife taking him to the cleaners and screwing around on him when he hit rock bottom. Both stories are covered in a couple of pages.
Now, you're thinking, who cares? This is a basketball book not a relationship book, and I'd agree, except the book doesn't cover his basketball career in great detail either. It's glossed over. 20% of the book might be spent discussing the racism in the area Love lived in without discussing how it effected Love at all. Just stories of racism in the south.
After finishing this book, I was left thinking, how did the author write 200 pages and cover almost nothing about Bob Love in depth? The book left me thinking, I just read a 200 page biography on a man and still feel like I know relatively little about him. Just so much wasted space went into this book discussing peripheral stories and moving away from the main event.
There was another Bob Love biography on the shelf next to this one, and I'm tempted to go read that one.
All that said, there were two highlights of this book that I found particularly interesting. The first was a two to three page section detailing his relationship with Oscar Robertson who mentored Love early in his career. The second was the story about how Love finally overcame his stutter when Nordstrom's took a chance on him at rock bottom.
I came away impressed with Love's character and attitude towards life, but I was ultimately left wanting to know more about virtually every aspect detailed in this book. Something which could have easily been accomplished in the same number of pages with a different approach.
Bob Love gets a 10/10
This book on Bob Love: 2/10