52 Weeks: Interviews with Champions!
(Lyons Press, 2005)
By Dave Hollander
“You see, people are gonna say anything, and nine times out of ten it’s all a bunch of crap anyway.”
Tired of athletes sounding like Stepford Wives—offering nothing but the most vapid sports clichés—and equally fed up with interviewers whose questions range from inane to rude to incongruous, Dave Hollander spent a year tracking down the biggest names in sports and conducted very unusual interviews. No agents, no handlers, no marketing executives, no public relations scripts. 52 WEEKS: Interviews with Champions! (The Lyons Press) offers uncensored, no-holds-barred looks at the world of sport from current and former stars like Rickey Henderson, Steve Nash, Mariano Rivera, John Riggins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It’s a must-read for any sports fan.
Hollander stays off the well-beaten sports path leading his subjects instead into off-beat topics. He muses on prison life with Lawrence Taylor, discusses the finer points of head-butts with ex-New York Knick John Starks, appreciates a good bowl of oatmeal with John Wooden, theorizes with running back Dave Kopay about Reggie White’s sexual frustration, tempts NFL great Larry Csonka with a trip to Hooters, prompts Jim Bouton to call Alex Rodriguez “a quitter”, and patiently listens to Larry Holmes analyze the practical merits of the George Foreman Grille.
There are also stunningly candid interviews with Bill Bradley, Dwight Gooden, J.R. Richard, Oscar Robertson, Keith Hernandez, Tommy John, Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee, Sparky Lyle, Vince Carter, Mike Richter, Darryl Dawkins, Chuck Wepner, Vitali Klitschko, and Bum Phillips. Plus, read the last interview ever given by George Plimpton.
Human and revealing, hilarious and heartfelt, Hollander’s interviews are part Charlie Rose, part Jon Stewart. Laced with Hollander’s personal essays and memoirs, the entire book is part manifesto, part sports journalism, part Aesops Fables. 52 WEEKS is off-the-hook fun that sports fans have been waiting for—a refreshing break from pat sports writing.