Tara talks to Ian Johnson, author of The Bounce and the Echo: Dying to Love a Game. Johnson is a former Division 1 basketball player at Davidson College and a five-year veteran of European professional basketball. In the book, he talks about his basketball experience, his mental health journey, his effort to move on from basketball to the next phase of his life and how he came to love the game again. All of this is intertwined with anecdotes about the history of basketball.
Tara talks to him about why he wrote the book and they share a mutual appreciation of how sports reflects history (and history is reflected in sports). Johnson discusses what it was like playing at Oak Hill Academy with Carmelo Anthony, playing against LeBron James in high school, and balancing (or trying to balance) being a student and an athlete in college.
Johnson shares some radical ideas about how to change youth sports that he believes would lead to more well-rounded and healthier players. Finally, he gives us a taste of his time he spend on the cruise ship with the men’s and women’s 2016 U.S. Olympic Basketball teams.
1:00 Intro and pandemic talk.
4:00 Early basketball memories, going from being a soccer player to a basketball player.
7:00 Inspiration behind The Bounce and The Echo. A lot of it was about figuring out how to create his own narrative about his basketball career.
10:30 Why did he weave the history of basketball and historical anecdotes into his own story?
14:30 History is reflected in sport and sport is a reflection of history.
17:30 What was it like to be in such a competitive situation when he was very young?
23:00 Trying to describe how good it feels to play the game of basketball.
27:00 What was it like playing on a team with Carmelo Anthony and all the attention he brought?
29:00 Shout out to school uniforms
30:45 Playing against LeBron James’s team in high school.
34:00 What was it like at Davidson and balancing being a player and an athlete.
36:00 Exploring mental health and athletes.
40:00 Playing in the Czech republic, frequenting a speakeasy
41:00 Suggestions for how the youth game could help lead to better mindset for athletes when they become adults.
52:00 A week on board the cruise ship in Rio with the 2016 Olympic basketball teams.