Jim Yardley

It's a rite of passage for the male journalistic elite to write at length about sports (see: Remnick, David). Add to the ledger Brave Dragons: A Chinese Basketball Team, an American Coach, and Two Cultures Clashing (Knopf, $26.95), in which New York Times Pulitzer winner Jim Yardley follows Shanxi's struggling CBA squad for the entire 2008-09 season. At the center of Yardley's story is one Bob Weiss, who both played for and coached the dearly departed Seattle SuperSonics. (He's also expected at tonight's event.) Shanxi is a small market trying to compete against titans like the Shanghai Sharks (owned by recently retired NBA star Yao Ming) or the Beijing Ducks, where Stephon Marbury has found unlikely redemption. Yardley explains how most squads are limited to two American players, some paid over $2 million per season, none speaking Mandarin, and all living separately from their teammates in luxury hotels. Yet since NBA games were first broadcast in China, making Michael Jordan an idol in that country, the sport's popularity has soared. We also learn that it has a 100-year history in China, since American missionaries brought with them. And another fun fact: Yardley's brother, Bill, is the NYT's Seattle bureau chief. So if Brave Dragons is to resonate anywhere outside of China, it should resonate here. And if we ever get our Sonics back, in a new SoDo facility, maybe there will be a Chinese player good enough to be drafted to the squad. MIKE SEELY

Tue., Feb. 21, 7 p.m., 2012

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