Basketball In Long Beach

Gazette Newspapers’ own Sports Editor, Mike Guardabascio, has published a history of the city’s basketball culture.

“Basketball in Long Beach” considers the sport from when it first migrated west, in the early 20th Century, through the present. The book is organized by program, and covers basketball at Long Beach Poly, Wilson, Jordan, Millikan, Lakewood and St. Anthony high schools, Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach. There’s also a brief tribute to longtime basketball writer Frank Burlison, and a chapter about attempts to bring professional basketball to the city.

Mike Guardabascio

Guardabascio, who has written about prep sports at the Gazettes and Press-Telegram for seven years, published his first book about Long Beach sports in 2012.

“My first book with the History Press, ‘Football in Long Beach,’ sold really well, and so they offered me another book deal,” Guardabascio said. “The logical progression to me was to explore another sport, and I picked basketball because it has such a rich tradition in Long Beach.”

But bringing this second book to print was more difficult than Guardabascio had anticipated.

“I've been so busy with work and having a toddler, it took forever to get it done,” he said. “The publisher suggested working with a co-author, and bringing on Chris Trevino was a perfect kick in the pants.”

Guardabascio said much of “Basketball in Long Beach” is about the sport’s girls’ players, who have been trailblazers within women’s basketball.

“The basketball bookreally takes a look at how much ahead of the rest of the country Long Beach was, as far as taking women players seriously,” he said. “One thing that really blew me away in researching the book was how dominant the LongBeach Poly girls’ teams of the early 1900s were — they had 6-foot-7 centers and they were beating USC.”

Basketball in Long Beach,” comes out Sept. 28 from the History Press, a publisher that specializes in historical accounts.

Guardabascio is already at work on a third book, which will take on the history — sports and otherwise — of Poly High School. He also has a second child on the way. This time, he has already lined up a co-author: Gazette sportswriter Tyler Hendrickson.

Jennifer Rice Epstein can be reached at jriceepstein@gazettes.com.

Jennifer Rice Epstein writes about business, environmental issues and K-12 education. Her essays and reporting also have appeared in The Morning News, Vice and LA Weekly, among others. She lives with her family in Bixby Knolls and tweets about Long Beach.

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