This past Saturday, December 7, Andrea Chamblee and David Elfin held a book signing and panel event at the Barnes & Noble on Rockville Pike to showcase John McNamara’s The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Hoops.
John McNamara dedicated his life to local basketball. His book educates us all on the timelines of DC area greats, the evolution of the game’s playing style, and political aspects.
McNamara did not get to see the book finished, as he was shot and killed in a targeted attack on the journalists of the Capital Gazette newspaper in June of 2018. Showing great perseverance and strength, his wife Andrea worked alongside co-author David Elfin to finalize The Capital of Basketball, and it was published in November.
For DC basketball fans, McNamara’s book brings knowledge that goes back hundreds of years. Furthermore, The Capital of Basketball has great detail and accuracy that cannot be found anywhere else.
The event featured a powerhouse panel of figures that can testify to the greatness of John McNamara’s work and the importance of DC basketball history.
Longtime DC basketball media members join in on the conversation
The panel included David Aldridge, who belongs to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his sports journalism contributions. He is extremely familiar with DC high school hoops, as he is a graduate of DeMatha Catholic High School. David spoke about how people don’t realize how big the basketball scene in the area really is and how it is over looked due to other sports.
“The basketball in this area is unparalleled.” said Aldridge. “People who aren’t from this town get it wrong. They always think this is a Redskins and football town, and it is not. This is a basketball town. Always has been, always will be because the roots are so deep. They go back decades.”
Dave Johnson, WTOP Sports Director, was also in attendance. Johnson is well known for being the voice of the Washington Wizards and the D.C. United soccer team. Dave is a sports broadcasting veteran who has made an immeasurable impact on the DC sports community. During the panel, Dave recalled the story McNamara wrote about him in 2015. Johnson explained that basketball is more than just a sport. For everyone involved, it’s a love story.
“I invite you to experience this book. You will experience that everyone has a story.” said Johnson. “Nobody told a story better than John McNamara.”
Doug Dull, who was a former colleague of McNamara’s, testified how his passion for basketball shines through this book. So much so, it’s as if he is sitting right next to you reading it with you. Dull recalls John being extremely immaculate and detail oriented.
“John was the first one to be at Giant Food Store in North Hagerstown to buy the first copy of Street & Smiths College Basketball Annual.” said Dull. “John was the only person in Western Maryland who knew that Pepperdine was a pretty good Big West basketball team.”
Figures of the Terp community were present
Former Maryland head basketball coach Gary Williams expressed that when coaching, very few of his friends resided as media members. John McNamara was the exception. Williams spoke fondly about McNamara and his comprehension of the game. The book discusses in detail how basketball is more than just a game and how it has impacted social changes.
“You can look at DC when the high schools were segregated. One of the great pushes for integration was guys playing against each other in the summertime.” Williams said. “John captures this in the book, about the great summer leagues that were in the DC area at the time. This forced schools to open their eyes and realize these guys should be in the same learning situation because they were in the same playing situation. They got along with each other so well and respected each other.
Johnny Holliday, University of Maryland broadcaster, was present. Holliday has years of experience with DMV basketball, being in his 39th season of broadcasting with Maryland. Holliday read an excerpt for McNamara’s book, one on father’s day.
DMV basketball fans will read this book with pride
As a “millennial” (which I hate being called), this book contains several stories and timelines that I was completely unaware of. This means, even if you are a die hard DC basketball fan, you will learn something from McNamara’s book.
The content of this book will make any DC sports fan even more proud of the professional players that came from the DMV area. John McNamara wrote this book with nothing but accuracy, detail and love of the sports. His legacy lives on not just with in the book, but in all those who lived through what he wrote about with him.
If you missed this book signing, here are the remaining signings you can check out: