‘Hardwood Heroes’ a full-court press of Minnesota hoops

David La Vaque

Ross Bernstein, author of several regionally best-selling coffee-table sports books, offers a round ball retrospective in his 11th book, “Hardwood Heroes: Celebrating a Century of Minnesota Basketball.”

“Hardwood Heroes” is the latest installment from Bernstein, an emerging authority on sports in the state of Minnesota.

Published by Nodin Press, “Hardwood Heroes” is long on information but short on aesthetics. The book is black and white and the page layout is text heavy.

Still, Bernstein accomplishes his goal to delve into the many levels of Minnesota basketball. In the process, the author sparks interest in readers wishing to reminisce about the teams, games and athletes that make up Minnesota’s basketball legacy.

“My books are not for investigative research, I’m not competing with anybody,” Bernstein said. “It’s just a celebration of history.”

Bernstein, a University graduate, began writing books after serving as the Goldy mascot at men’s hockey games in the late 1980s. His first book, “Gopher Hockey by the Hockey Gopher,” was released in 1992.

Research for Bernstein’s books – including “Pigskin Pride” and “Frozen Memories” – sends the author on a journey through often-conflicting reports of teams, games and athletes. He consults no less than 400 sources in addition to conducting nearly 100 interviews. “Hardwood Heroes” also features approximately 500 photographs.

“Hardwood Heroes” covers Minnesota basketball from the first independent professional teams in Red Wing and Chaska in 1910 to the hiring of Gophers women’s basketball coach Brenda Oldfield in June, 2001.

The Minneapolis Lakers, the Timberwolves, the Lynx and the Gophers are all featured, but basketball in Minnesota comprises many more teams – and Bernstein’s book profiles them.

From the Muskies and Pipers of the ABA, to men’s and women’s small college teams and a complete rundown of the state high school tournament, “Hardwood Heroes” offers hoops fans a full court press.

“I found a fun niche,” Bernstein said. “These are just fun books to work on. I’m not going to win a Pulitzer anytime soon, but these are great guide books.”

“Hardwood Heroes” is available wherever books are sold for $24.95 in hardcover format.