Review: ‘Inaugural Ballers’ tells the story of a pioneering women’s basketball team that included Pat Head Summitt

‘Inaugural Ballers’ tells the story of a pioneering women’s basketball team

Photo Contributed by Chapter16.org / Andrew Maraniss

"INAUGURAL BALLERS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE FIRST U.S. WOMEN'S OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM" by Andrew Maraniss (Viking Books for Young Readers, 352 pages, $19).

The title of Andrew Maraniss' latest book, "Inaugural Ballers," with its internal rhyme and fine balance of formal language and street argot, neatly captures the book's two predominant narrative threads. Subtitled "The True Story of the First U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Team," the book describes the challenges faced by the trailblazing 1976 team to gain support and recognition in a sports landscape that overlooked the achievements of female athletes. While the men's Olympic team traveled in comfort and enjoyed continual media coverage, the women practiced in obscure gyms and battled the perception, often exacerbated by newspaper columnists, that playing basketball made them "mannish."

The "baller" half of the title is equally important.