The Crossover


A Brief History of Basketball and Race, from James Naismith to Lebron James

The history of basketball contains all the drama inherent in America’s long struggle with racial intolerance and quest for equality. In ten focused chapters that highlight characters both famous (Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird) and more obscure (John McLendon, Earl Lloyd, Holcombe Rucker), this book explores how what’s happened on the basketball court has mirrored race relations in the United States—and often preceded changes off of it.


“Doug Merlino crosses many sociocultural boundaries to offer casual and hardcore fans alike a glimpse into the racial and economic divide that spans more than a century of American basketball. From Springfield to Harlem to Miami (with many stops in between), The Crossover beautifully ties together the pioneers who have forever altered both the game and the business of basketball.”
–Alan Brown, University of Alabama, College of Education

“In The Hustle, Doug Merlino took me back to my own experiences of childhood with basketball as the de facto lingua franca of the streets. As long as you could play ball or talk ball you were all right, no matter who you were or where you came from.  Here in The Crossover, we get a crisply written history of how that came to be, from the beginnings of the game to where it stands now.  Merlino can write ball so he’s all right with me.”
–J.O. Applegate, 

“As a columnist on West Coast college basketball and its history, I was delighted to find the writings of Doug Merlino. I find him not only refreshing, but informational and entertaining. I hope you will take some time to delve into his work.”
Craw’s Corner