Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way For the WNBA (Hardcover)

Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way For the WNBA By Howard Megdal Cover Image

Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way For the WNBA (Hardcover)


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An expansive and compelling chronicle tracing the rise of modern women's basketball

Elvera “Peps” Neuman got lost in the sounds and rhythms of basketball, dribbling and shooting on a hoop affixed to her family's barn in Eden Valley, Minnesota. In the years preceding Title IX, Neuman's dreams of playing the game professionally meant a life away from home on barnstorming tours and even forming a team of her own, the Arkansas Gems.

Sixty years later, she got to witness what a sold-out Target Center in downtown Minneapolis looked like on the Friday night of the 2022 Women’s Final Four. Neuman’s cheers joined with a crowd of 18,268 to send a wall of sound toward the Twin Cities' own Paige Bueckers and her Connecticut teammates. The 5’11 Bueckers may have worn her ponytail a little differently than Neuman, but Neuman certainly saw something of herself in the young superstar.

This is the story of the pioneers who shaped so much of the modern infrastructure for women's basketball, whose histories intersect and wind their way through the state of Minnesota. It is the story of forcing open doors—to ensure teams even existed, to allow those teams to play in conditions resembling those men could take for granted, to ensure that the color of your skin or who you love would not be a barrier to building a life centered around basketball. To end the double-standard that treats every undeniable success by women as a one-off, but every setback as a referendum. 

Four generations of women have played essential and diverse roles: Neuman and her friend and collaborator of a half-century, Vicky Nelson; Cheryl Reeve and her wife, Carley Knox; Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, and WNBA's Minnesota Lynx; right through to the future of the game in Bueckers and the stars of tomorrow.

Through meticulous research and evocative storytelling, this captivating narrative gives due recognition to the luminaries who ushered in women's basketball's modern era.
Howard Megdal is a journalist and editor who has worked hard over his career to equalize coverage between both men and women's sports, while covering baseball, basketball, soccer, and other sports. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The IX Newsletter, a daily newsletter covering five different women's sports, and The Next, a 24/7 women's basketball outlet. He is a freelancer for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight, and Forbes. His books include The Baseball Talmud, Wilpon's Folly, Taking The Field, and The Cardinals Way.
Product Details ISBN: 9781637271988
ISBN-10: 1637271980
Publisher: Triumph Books
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English
Megdal does a fine job capturing the legacy of these women who shared a passion for basketball, from pre-Title IX days to those advancing a path of inclusion and leading the sport today. — Booklist