182 | Pete Croatto (From Hang Time to Prime Time: The Birth of the Modern-Day NBA)

My Summer Lair Chapter #182: How Did The NBA Evolve From Hang Time To Prime Time?

This will be another NBA episode though not focusing so much on a team or certain players but rather the league itself.

Journalist and writer Pete Croatto has written From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-Day NBA. This book is delicious I consumed it whole like a python.

There’s a reason why when you go see like a Marvel movie, there’s 10 minutes of credits, right? Because there’s a lot of people who made that movie, yet what we tend to focus on or talk about is Robert Downey Jr or Kevin Fiege, or like a handful of stars in front of the camera. Yet without those 10 minutes of credits the Marvel movie is not possible.

So let’s look back to so we can look ahead: From Hang Time to Prime Time is like the NBA’s high school yearbook. Pete’s book deftly documents the corporate rise of the NBA: a league that wasn’t popular much less cool compared to the NFL and MLB. Hard to believe.

Imagine sitting down and talking to the people in those 10 minutes of Marvel’s movie credits: they made it happen. Who in the NBA should get credit for making magic happen even though most of us only know Michael Jordan?

Through many stories and many experiences and many moments Hang Time focuses on the NBA’s cultural transformation and growth especially in the 70s and 80s though thankfully unlike a yearbook there isn’t that many bad hair photos. I’m not sure how we should classify Commissioner David Stern’s mustache.

Kobe’s sudden death was proceeded by David Stern’s death: both in January 2020. Those two deaths formed fascinating bookends of the NBA that was and the NBA that is. On every tombstone you get that dash between dates but that dash can mean so so much. That tiny dash signifies a life though it fails to convey the whole story.

So let’s start there with those 2 significant bookends: Kobe Bryant and David Stern. Because we know Stern and we know Kobe and we know one of them is Prime Time and the other is Hang Time. Heh you can decide which is which.

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Pete Croatto @ WT F

Host & Photography by Sammy Younan

Recorded: Tuesday December 29, 2020 at 4pm (EST)

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