Jeff Pearlman

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What 100 looks like

The above photograph features Norma Shapiro, my wife’s grandmother.

She’s 100.

Yes, one hundred.

Really, Norma Shapiro is 100.

You wouldn’t know it. Not by looking at her, certainly not by watching her. Norma drives everywhere. She works out with a trainer several times per week. She’s a voracious reader with an active social life (She did a Quaz back in 2015 that was very well received).

Two days ago, we were in Florida to attend her 100th birthday bash, and it was a four-hour ode to the power of moving forward. Of not stopping. Of refusing to pity oneself. Of drive and determination and a zest for life. Or, put differently: On a night when one of us was 100 and the other was 47, the centenarian was out on the dance floor. The guy half her age sat and ate cookies.

Norma has not had it easy. Lost a son. Lost a husband. The vast majority of her friends have passed. But … I dunno. She keeps making new friends. Keeps finding new adventures. In February she’ll be flying from Florida to California for my son’s Bar Mitzvah—because that’s what Norma does. It’s that simple.

I actually had a chance to chat with Norma’s trainer. I asked him to explain the phenomenon that is my kids’ great grandmother. He didn’t pause.

“Look,” he said, “it’s pretty simple. It’s 33 percent lifestyle. It’s 33 percent genetics. And it’s 33 percent luck.”

Makes sense to me.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life