View Full Version : Paul Shirly: The Career "Wanna-Be Basketball Player"

07-11-2008, 01:04 PM
Admittedly, I know very little about the guy except that he's been passed around in the NBA as often as a basketball in a practise gym, that he is currently playing for ViveMenorca, a basketball team in Menorca, Spain, that he wrote a book entitled, "Can I Keep My Jersey?," - a play on his well travelled basketball career - and that he maintains a weblog over on ESPN.com where he somewhat chronicals his day-to-day activities concerning his career and his life.

For several months I've noticed the link to his blog (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=shirley_paul&page=Journal-56) and passed it up. (Note: The aforementioned link is to the latest entry to Paul's blog which also contains links to entries 1-55, as well as an exerpt to his book.) Like I said, I know little about him and, thus, I really didn't have that much interest in reading what he had to say. Yet, all the while the name seemed familiar, and so I finally ventured to take a peak.

I've only gotten through three of Pauls' blog entries - #56 and entries 1 and 2 (figuring why not start from the beginning and see what this guy is really all about) - and I have to say he comes across as genuine as any blue collar seasoned veteran of the game can get. If you've ever read blogs by Gilbert Arenas or Mark Cuban, you undoubtedly have a taste of just how straight-forward the blogger can get. But Paul Shirley's blogs (so far) are different. He takes you behind the scenes in the life of a struggling basketball player trying to find his way as he continues his quest to have a career in basketball, presumably in the NBA. And during this quest, Paul takes you within the dark recesses of the business of basket.

Paul's also very personal. I know...it's a blog; it's suppose to be personal. But here's the difference as I see it (and again, I've only read three entries and the book exerpt): Paul comes across as being unafraid to take you on his journey through his life, his career, his struggles, his pains, his fears, his ambitions, his highs, his lows, his triumphs and his failures. He gives new meaning to the phrase, "...wearing your heart on your sleave". But the true kicker is Paul is as profound as he is funny, and as blunt as he is carefree. Take the following two snipets, for example:

From blog entry #56:

"At halftime, we were ahead by four or five, but not playing particularly well. I had played most of the first half. While I hadn't taken a shot -- not a surprise considering that I had touched the ball on offense about three times -- I had played OK. I had done most of that playing in a sort of weird fog. I was trying to soak up everything I could, in case this was, indeed, my last game ever.

Fast forward ...

The fourth quarter was something of a microcosm of my basketball career. I started the period on the court but was removed with seven minutes to go after a boneheaded turnover. I feared that I wouldn't get back in. I began envisioning a final buzzer that found me on the bench, having scored two points in a losing effort for a relegated team. It wasn't exactly how I wanted to go out."

From the exerpt from his book:

"...two weeks ago, I was playing basketball in a rodeo arena in Kansas City and was beginning to wonder if my short stint with the Atlanta Hawks had been merely a figment of my imagination. My basketball career was rapidly becoming nearly pathetic.

Perhaps I am making too much of this, but there is a significant difference between that state of mind and the one that results after the head coach of the Chicago Bulls drew up a last-second play for me. I'm not yet going to ready myself for a retired jersey, but this is good news."

In closing, I'll leave you with this, another exerpt from Paul Shirley's book (I believe this is part of the introduction) which provides perhaps the best glimps into the mind of a man who, thought quite candid, knows not to take himself too seriously:

"To call my professional life hard would be to minimize the misery of others; the guy barking for the early-bird special at Jiffy Lube would raise an eyebrow if I tried to convince him that my life is difficult. But it is true that my career has not been nearly as carefree as some might think. In six years of professional basketball, I've absorbed more rejection than most Jehovah's Witnesses."

IMO, Paul Shirley's blog fills in the gaps between the ego of the high paid multi-million dollar balla' and the maverick, eogtistical club owner (excuse the pun) and settles you down for the hardnosed, hard hitting punches the average Joe goes through in this topsy-turvy world we're all so fanatical about called the NBA.

Take a look and enjoy.

07-11-2008, 01:07 PM
Boring Friday at work?

Nuff Said!!

07-11-2008, 01:10 PM
Boring Friday at work?

Nuff Said!!
True :p ..., but I must admit the guy's pretty deep not to mention funny at times.

07-11-2008, 01:13 PM
True :p ..., but I must admit the guy's pretty deep not to mention funny at times.

I have read him and he reminds me of Scott Pollard.

07-11-2008, 01:14 PM
I think I've read em all.

Shirley's fantastic.

07-11-2008, 01:29 PM
I have read him and he reminds me of Scott Pollard.
Well, if you like Scott (or have the least bit of empathy for him), then you gotta like this guy, too, or atleast respect him.

We hear so often about the glory-side of professional sports that we forget that for some there's actually a struggle that goes along with it. Sometimes the player's problems are self-imposed (i.e., drugs or arrogance). Other times it's a matter completely out of their hands (i.e., injury). And then there are those who, like Shirley, just can't seem to get out of his own way or realize the dream is pretty much over; it's time to cash it in. (See blog #56; those are pretty much his words, not mine.) And yet he's still out there fighting, going through the struggle perhaps trying to get back what Austin Croshere accidently took away. (I laugh as I type this because in a twisted sorta way this is incident is the story of Paul Shirley's life...here today, gone tomorrow, taking his lumps to fit in everyday.)

I got a glimps of his struggles in what little I have read. I know how it unfolds and a little of how it began. I'm interested in know what happened in between. Yeah, I'm a glutten for punishment...it's probably why I find his blog...facinating. It's the other side of the game we never really get to see....just imagine.

07-11-2008, 01:33 PM
I don't think I have read all of them, but definitely most. I think he's hilarious and gives a good insight into playing ball overseas.

Dr. Goldfoot
07-11-2008, 01:40 PM
He's pretty funny. I usually read his Myspace blog which I assume is the same as his other stuff. He has book out but I haven't read that.