Written by Dylan Gerstley

From passion to project: how a debate became a book

Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl, cementing his G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) status. But when it comes to basketball, the debate still rages: Michael Jordan or LeBron James?

Larry Viggiano, author of Two. Three.: Who is the G.O.A.T.?, and Manager in Siegfried’s New York market, added “author” to his list of accolades in the rollercoaster that was 2020. The book, which was published through Amazon, contains the long-running basketball debate of Jordan versus James. “Writing a book wasn’t something I imagined in 2019, let alone as I was growing up,” Larry shared. “But 2020 was a unique year, and searching for ways to maintain sanity led me to complete this project.”

The inspiration

Basketball defined Larry’s childhood, from the age of four on. He would split his time in the summer between formal basketball camp and pickup games at the park before playing in leagues throughout the school year.

“I made so many friends in the process of playing basketball, day in and day out,” explained Larry. “I still speak to a lot of the people I connected with 10 to 20 years later.”

It was this love for the game, and his bond with competitors and teammates alike, that drove Larry to continue to play in college, though not competitively. “I could always find a pickup game at the park or join a men’s league.”

Being steeped in the game of basketball, Larry, his family, and friends have consistently debated the greatness of two of the most iconic men to grace the hardwood: Michael Jordan and Lebron James. This debate, combined with Jordan’s legacy moving increasingly closer to the horizon, provided the impetus for Larry to pick up the pen.

“I’ve had this ‘great debate’ with countless people over the years,” said Larry. “Sometimes I’d have people tell me that I provided a new perspective, so my knack for persuasion gave me the confidence to write the debate. But I really wrote the book for the younger generation of basketball fans, an entire generation of kids who never watched MJ play live.”

The process

Without ever having dreams of writing or publishing, Larry plunged head first into his new challenge. With remote work becoming a fact of life in 2020, Larry was desperate to find a hobby to get away from work, so he arrived at the blank page.

“I initially started by opening a blank document and writing what came to my mind. I quickly realized that wouldn’t work for me,” Larry laughed. “I bought some bulletin boards and sticky notes and mapped out a path to the finish line, removing the stickies one-by-one.”

That free form, on-the-fly approach isn’t what typically comes to mind when thinking of putting together a book. But Larry embraced the informal nature of the project in a year where so many formalities were placed on the back burner.

“There was no pressure, no deadline, and no expectation. I worked at my own pace,” Larry shared. “There were some days that I spent 30 minutes, and other days of five or more hours working on research. The unusual circumstances of 2020 were trying, but gave me the space to approach this with positivity.”

Larry called on his vast network of friends and connections, both inside and outside basketball, to help him stick to his goal and improve the quality of his writing and style. He continued having the conversation and debate with his friends as a barometer for his own argument, ensuring no stone was left unturned.

“Once I put pen to paper, I would send chapters to a select few confidantes,” explained Larry. “The pre-readers were not all necessarily basketball people, but rather people who wouldn’t be afraid to tell me if my work was terrible and would give me honest criticism.”

The new author also connected with some presumably big names in basketball to get even closer to the conversation. “I did connect with a few old coaches and some people who have been around both players during and after their careers,” said Larry, not tipping his hand. “I will say there is a pretty clear consensus on who is the better of the two players.”

The result

Larry’s book is now on Amazon with his name in print, but his mission is far from over. The game of basketball has taught him valuable life lessons and most of all, exposed him to people he wouldn’t have met any other way.

“I made so many friends playing basketball, and while most of them were through teams I was a part of, many were from playing pickup games with strangers,” shared Larry. “These connections are just as valuable because basketball might be the only thing in common between us. The game allows you to befriend someone from a completely different walk of life that you otherwise would have never had the opportunity of meeting.”

This lesson was the catalyst for Larry to use the proceeds from his book to fund public basketball court restoration in his local New York City area. “If I can make those incredible connections and relationships happen for others by restoring just one court that people wouldn’t normally use, this project would be a major success.”

The lesson

Just as he accomplished through basketball, Larry was able to develop a new perspective on life through his writing and research. The purpose of the book, of course, was to have a definitive answer on who the greatest of all time is in the basketball world, but Larry was able to see past the debate and learn from both of the game’s icons.

“I learned there is certainly an archetype for unquestioned excellence and success that goes far beyond basketball into any aspect of life and any profession,” said Larry. “I would encourage readers to look more deeply into that to improve their own lives and relationships.”

Larry also stumbled on a profound insight about writing, dedication, and goals. “I would say writing a book is very intimidating when you say it out loud,” admitted Larry. “But actually doing it just requires dedication. We write texts and emails on a daily basis. They require structure, formatting, and review. A book is different by the size and scale of the message, but there is nothing to be intimidated by if you just pick up the pen.”

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