[A] wise, engaging and frankly overdue survey of a crucial moment in sports history ... The stroke of honesty that guides Black Ball is its insistence that our perceptions of race affect how we view the game, and that you simply can’t divorce sports from the times in which they are played — and the audiences for whom they’re played ... Black Ball is a timely read at a moment when professional athletes are more outspoken than ever on social issues, and when it’s clear that sports and society are inextricably linked.
An authoritative history ... Runstedtler, who combines an academic historian’s depth of knowledge with a novelist’s sense of story and character, cuts through McKay’s cardboard ... Hers is more than a basketball book, just as her subjects were more than basketball players.
A scholarly look at 1970s pro basketball and how the NBA became synonymous with being a Black league ... lthough she could have provided more historical background on Black labor movements, Runstedtler makes a convincing argument that Black players’ successful labor battles should be considered part of the long freedom struggle of Black Americans ... Deeply researched, and grounded in Black thought from the period, relying in particular on Black Sports magazine as an essential resource ... Overall, Black Ball is an intriguing look at professional basketball in the 1970s.