“The greatest sports story [is] in my backyard.”
Cleveland-area reporter and author Chris Parker got the opportunity to cover that exact scenario when he served as a beat reporter for “Cleveland Scene” magazine, exclusively covering the Cleveland Cavaliers during the previous two seasons. With the team’s championship, Parker turned his up-close experiences into his first book, “King James Brings The Land a Crown: The Definitive Tale of the Cavaliers’ 2016 Title Run.”
Parker, who’s been writing for over two decades covering everything from the online anarchist collective Anonymous to rapper Machine Gun Kelly, uses a style many sports readers may not be used to. He models his 2,000 to 3,000 word game recaps after ESPN analyst Zach Lowe, embedding a plethora of video clips and pictures to go along with in-depth analysis of everything from the third option on a pick-and-roll to transition help arriving too late.
Parker said he was trying to be similar to television broadcasts, “There’s a lot of information with the telecast and a level of depth that makes it all entertaining.”
Because he also covered entertainment for such a long time, he also frequently uses references to pop culture, both older and more modern, to tell the story of the game. The style and length is reminiscent of Bill Simmons, a popular writer who is known for combining pop culture and sports.
“I found [sportswriting] thin gruel. I wanted to concentrate on telling the story in a colorful way,” said Parker. “I was going about it how I would want to write to me.”
The book is written similarly to his articles. Parker tries to capture the feeling of each part of the championship season, from the early season success to the firing of David Blatt to the feeling in the locker room after going down 3-1 in the finals. He wanted to make the book “like a reference material” for fans to keep to remember the feelings of the city’s first title in more than half a century.
Though the book is titled after LeBron James and chronicles his rise to stardom and villainy—Parker calls it the “greatest prodigal [son] story ever”—it also details the supporting players and their large roles in winning the championship. He mentions Richard Jefferson and James Jones’ veteran leadership throughout the book as well as detailing backstories of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
Even though the Cavaliers won the title, Parker is still covering the team for one final season. After every playoff game he will post a recap on the “Cleveland Scene” website after only sporadically posting during the regular season.
Parker will be appearing at the Case Western Reserve University bookstore from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, April 6. He will be signing his book as well as holding a conversation about the Cavaliers.
Book: King James Brings The Land a Crown
Author: Chris Parker
Signing location: CWRU Bookstore
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.