The Miami Heat Reader

By Blake Butler

The Miami Heat is not a team that aims to win by brawn alone. Head coach Erik Spoelstra knows that in order to be competitive, his team must be rigorous in brain machination as well as in driving the lane. As such, each member of the Miami Heat is necessarily a voracious reader, with their input primed even more so during the dominate-or-die barrage of the playoffs.

This year, some of Miami’s best and brightest were kind enough to share what they’ve been immersed in, both on the bus and on the bench as they prepare to take home the championship ring.

Ray Allen

Photo via Wiki Commons

The Selected Poems of Mary Ruefle by Mary Ruefle
The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Souls of the Labadie Tract by Susan Howe
The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick
In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

Ray Allen reads mostly before bedtime, in the nude. He is the kind of reader that can’t help but share a sentence he finds beautiful, often reading passages at length for anyone who’ll listen, and thereafter can quote from memory lines he’s read aloud for months after the fact, as if the spoken words have somehow been traced into his brain. He prefers poetry, or prose that was written by a poet. He sees the snap of his wrist when shooting free throws as a line break that connects his body to the basket, taking the ball through its eternal location in the hoop like a verse tattooed on the air.

Dwayne Wade

Photo via Flickr user Keith Allison

Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney
VALIS by Philip K. Dick
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
The Supermale by Alfred Jarry

There’s nothing Dwayne Wade hates to see more than a book with a bent spine. He reads carefully, holding the book open at the smallest possible angle he can while still allowing him to see the sentences. He likes a book to look untouched, absorbing its information like a stranger who leaves no trace. Often, having finished a great read, he will leave a book in a public place for someone else to find and enjoy. For six years he worked on a collection of his own prose poems, titled The Actual Heat, which he has out on submission with several small presses; sometimes he can be caught checking his email during time-outs to see if he’s heard anything back.

Chris “Birdman” Andersen

The lyrics to Crazy Town’s “Butterfly”
The Wikipedia page of Chris Andersen
Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Babyfucker by Urs Alleman
“Like, anything about sex”

Birdman considers himself a speed reader, preferring not to be given the whole story at once, but to be allowed to fill in what he understands as gaps with his own color. He tends to stick with what he already knows he likes, which results in his having read every book he’s ever read at least several dozen times. As a result, each book he owns is heavily marked up, highlighted, and scribbled on in the margins to the point that any other person trying to read it would find it difficult to concentrate on the original text. He loves to read while taking a shit, and it makes him sweat, and he likes that, too. Because he always licks his finger before turning a page, the edges of his books are rounded, dark in the margins, and have a very specific stench. He loves to buy books about birds, but never reads them, instead taking pleasure in ripping them apart at parties with his teeth on all fours, like a dog.

Mario Chalmers

Photo via Flickr user Keith Allison

The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Murder, My Sweet by Raymond Chandler
The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme
The Eclogues by Virgil

Mario Chalmers is always reading at least ten books at the same time. He likes to be able to jump from one storyline into another, seeing the interweaving of the narratives as a kind of larger book in and of itself, like life. He is frequently losing books, leaving them in the locker room at an away game, or on a plane, and he sees this each time as a gift, allowing the narrative to continue widely out from where he’d left it into total potential, no longer trapped in its forced continuity. Chalmers’s favorite place to read is in the bathtub, in water up to his neck, so he can feel the way the water hydrates his face and hands, followed by the wonderful feeling of setting the book down and going fully under.

Chris Bosh

Photo via Flickr user Keith Allison

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Chris Bosh is a wide and adventurous reader, one willing to try any kind of thing. He often likes to read books being discussed in popular media outlets so he can form his own opinion. He often posts anonymously on literary blogs, frequently vehemently deriding critics with whom he disagrees while quoting Viktor Shklovsky and Alain Robbe-Grillet. In person, he is a considerate, thoughtful reader, interested in discussing the physics of a sentence, the use of dreams in creating plot, and irregular meter. He has a tattoo of William Carlos Williams on a part of his body he can’t see. For several years he kept a reading diary on LiveJournal under the username BigUpsBoshMane, which he later deleted, finding as he aged that he no longer agreed with the opinions he had formed as a younger reader.

LeBron James

Photo via Flickr user Keith Allison

A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
The World as Will and Representation by Arthur Schopenhauer
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
a: A Novel by Andy Warhol

LeBron James prefers long books, ones that you must devote long periods of time to. He will often carry a book throughout the day, taking advantage of small pauses in action to push through another few pages when he can. He is private about his reading, and when asked about a book he’s holding, will mumble and turn away, finding the pleasure of the experience predicated on an intense link between the author and the reader, not to be obscured with conversation or analysis. When he particularly likes the function of a page in a book he’ll rip it out and tack it to the inside of his locker, reading and rereading it before a game to get pumped. His favorite way to read is in the dark with a flashlight under the covers in a hotel room by himself in silk pajamas. He has had Christmas dinner with Don DeLillo four times, and with Thomas Pynchon twice.

Erik Spoelstra

Photo via Flickr user Keith Allison

Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates
Son of the Morning by Joyce Carol Oates
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
Garfield Eats His Heart Out by Jim Davis
Des bleus à l'âme by Françoise Sagan

Erik Spoelstra consumes literature primarily by listening to audio books. He finds that language being fed into his ears while his hands and eyes are free to move around is by far the most effective way to interact the written word. He often listens to audio books during the games, which is why you always see him staring as if transfixed into the court with his mouth slightly open and eyes wide. He is listening. He enjoys popular French literature and haiku and often weeps while reading. He brings a hard copy of the book with him courtside, so that during TV breaks he can reread passages he’d like to see in print. He finds the way his tears rumple the paper somehow moving. For the playoffs, he has decided to make a run at filling in the gaps of his Joyce Carol Oates experience, for which he hires his mother to record herself reading to him, as she did when he was a child to help him sleep.   

Previously by Blake Butler: Fence Has Been Reconfiguring the Literary Landscape for 15 Years

@blakebutler

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