The Jazz Session #130: Nathaniel Friedman

Before he began writing about basketball at and in FreeDarko presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today’s Game, Nathaniel Friedman wrote about jazz. In this interview, he discusses the “basketball=jazz” meme; a popular jazz album that many people lost their virginity to; and the need to turn sports into art. Learn more at

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Author: Jason Crane

9 thoughts on “The Jazz Session #130: Nathaniel Friedman

  1. Wonderful interview – for a while I thought that Mr. Freeman would ‘one more thing’ you until the end of the interview and there wouldn’t be any interchange!

    One thing I felt you missed on the basketball to jazz motivation. First, I sort of agree with your take on Jazz using BBall to seem ‘hip’. But there are reasons why basketball would use Jazz.

    As someone who was a big basketball fan in the late 70’s to late 80’s, I remember when ‘basketball thug’ meant Bill Laimbeer going on the court to rough up opposing players, or Kevin McHale’s clothesline … but now it means that every team has multiple felons, frequent arrests for violent crime and sexual assaults, and even recent gun confrontations …

    So basketball can win by using the current (though tragic) view of jazz as ‘chamber music’ to gain a sense of intellectuality and seriousness.

  2. I think Michael hit the nail on the head. With the NBA’s recent trouble dealing with the reputation of basketball players as thugs taken into consideration, comparing basketball to jazz (esp. the buttoned-down jazz of Wynton Marsalis, with the corresponding Brooks Brothers suits) makes a lot of sense. Additionally, as with jazz, the NBA’s fanbase is largely white, so the appeal to the cool sophistication of jazz makes sense from the NBA’s perspective.

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