Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader is possibly the most well-timed book publication in recent history. With the Bucks winning the Finals and Giannis adding Finals MVP to his already impressive trophy collection, it’s fitting that this biography would arrive on shelves shortly afterwards. As I recently finished the book, I want to provide a review for individuals on the fence about purchasing it. With that in mind, I intend to keep this review as high level as possible.
Giannis is an extremely well written and well researched biography. Author Mirin Fader relies on interviews from a wide range of individuals to tell this story. These perspectives range from people who knew him as a child in Athens to coaches, teammates, family members, and even fans. Although it would be easy to clutter the pages with too much information, nothing feels redundant or out of place. Instead, the different perspectives weave together nicely to tell a complete story.
In addition to the wealth of information presented in Giannis, Ms. Fader’s writing style brings it to life. Nothing about this book is dry or tedious to read. Once I started reading, it was difficult to stop. About midway through the book, I had to start setting a timer as a reminder to go to bed for work in the morning. It was less the content of the book that dominated my attention so completely, but the way it made me feel. I felt every conceivable emotion as I read this book from deep sadness and burning rage to true joy. It’s one thing to present the facts of an individual’s life, it’s another thing to make the reader feel as if they’re witnessing it in real time. This is not easy to do and it’s a testament to Ms. Fader’s abilities as a story teller.
It’s extremely difficult for me to find fault with this book. Giannis is well written and well researched; it’s everything you’d expect from a good biography. Despite that, there are moments where Fader’s ability to spark emotional responses in her readers backfires. The biggest instance is her discussion of former Bucks Coach Jason Kidd and his questionable (arguably abusive) practices. If you read Twitter shortly after this book was released, you’d see widespread revulsion and condemnation over Kidd’s practices as coach. Although nothing about it is out of place, it’s clear that readers’ anger at Kidd temporarily overshadowed the subject of the book, i.e. Giannis. The fact that the Dallas Mavericks recently hired Kidd as Head Coach likely exacerbated this issue.
Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader is a fantastic biography published at the perfect time. Although Bucks fans likely don’t need much prodding to buy this book, it’s a must read for basketball fans of all ages. In a time of a deadly global pandemic and persistent economic uncertainty, it’s easy to become jaded. Giannis reminds readers to keep hoping and fighting for their dreams, even in dark times.
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