Tall tales from two NBA wives Novel: Women say their book plays games with the truth. It's their story, and they're sticking to it.

October 12, 1998|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

The main thing Crystal McCrary and Rita Ewing want you to know is they did not write their autobiographies.

They wrote fiction, get it? Fiction. So what if "Homecourt Advantage" (Avon Books, 1998), reads like a juicy tell-all, inside look at the National Basketball Association?

So what if McCrary is the wife of Greg Anthony, a Seattle Supersonics player? And Ewing is married to Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks?

The Ewings are a superstar basketball couple going through their own personal drama.

Except when you are a multimillionaire NBA player, or married to one, not too much remains personal. Patrick and Rita Ewing are separated. Rita Ewing's high-profile attorney, Raoul Felder, issued the separation announcement to the media seven months ago.

Both McCrary and Ewing are lawyers, good friends and privy to the inside skinny of the mega-bucks, sometimes down-and-dirty NBA universe.

"I have always thought about doing a book," Ewing says.

"We got to laughing and talking and decided we should do it," says McCrary, who has written short stories.

Call it what you want. The book is a gossipy, catty, self-serving peek into the multimillion-dollar world of athletes and their families. It's a world where giant egos clash head-on with major insecurities. There's greed, infidelity, power plays, seduction and shallowness.

This means, of course, it's one heck of a fun read.

The book revolves around the wives, girlfriends and fiancees of a New York-based NBA team. The team is under heavy pressure to bring home the championship or face banishment by being sold to an unsavory new owner and booted out of the Big Apple.

"It's entirely fiction!" insists Ewing.

OK.

"The NBA is the backdrop for the novel," says McCrary. "Just like Jackie Collins often uses Hollywood as a backdrop for her novels."

Sure.

For one thing, both women say not all athletes are rich superstars like those in the novel. Furthermore, neither woman has ever lived in a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park as does one of the main characters.

"We fictionalized a lot of the glamour," McCrary says. "Who wouldn't want to live in a Central Park penthouse? We have never lived in a penthouse. Let's take a team like the Knicks; they don't actually live in the big city with bright lights. They have families and usually live in the suburbs. They want to live closer to the practice facility anyway."

So that's the penthouse, ladies, a minor detail as these things go. But what about all of the really seedy stuff in the novel? The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky type of messing around that some of the NBA characters engage in?

What about the wives, girlfriends, children of the wives and girlfriends? Some characters have both wife and girlfriend. How did these two women, wives of NBA players, handle this in real life?

"You know, it's really not a matter of being surrounded all the time by women in miniskirts and fishnet stockings," Ewing says. "We have to deal with fans, period. Men, women and children. They are always there."

Whether you buy that or not, there certainly are aggressive women characters with abundant bosoms enticing the NBA men in the novel. There are women using their bodies and adorable babies to get or to hold on to these men.

There's the in-the-closet gay NBA player who has a steady girlfriend and pretends to be wild about the ladies. Another is a gambling addict who berates his wife and makes her practically beg for every penny. There's the controlling coach's wife who deigns to tell the women how to dress and act in public. It's for the good of the team, she says.

There is the pressure on the players to prove themselves every game. For the wives, fiancees and girlfriends, the pressure is of a different sort.

There's the pressure to support your man, no matter what. To decide whether to turn the other way when he has a sexual dalliance (or two or three or four) in order to continue to live the life. To choose the career you want or put aside your own professional aspirations.

And, most of all, pressure to look good at all costs. It's a world where, if one doesn't own a Rolex watch, darling, consider yourself a nonentity. There are so many designers mentioned in this book, it's a veritable fashion primer.

Kirkus Review calls it, "A richly hard-as-nails sports opera as only two legal-eagle insiders could write it."

A review in the Library Journal reads, "The realistic and suspense-filled plot includes everything from gay players coming out of the closet and the shady dealings of sports agents to illegitimate children and players' gambling problems."

The book has been out only a few weeks, so the women haven't heard from many in the NBA world who have actually read it. "Some people say they have read it even though it just came out," Ewing says.

According to a September article in the New York Daily News, Rita Ewing says some NBA wives are less than thrilled about the book. "They think we are doing a tell-all on their poor husbands," she is quoted as saying.

Others in the NBA family are much more charitable.

"I enjoyed it," says the NBA's Greg Anthony, wife of McCrary.

"I thought it was a good read. It gives some insight into what is going on in the NBA. Not really the particulars, but an overview," Anthony says. "I came away quite impressed."

Book signing

Who: Crystal McCrary and Rita Ewing, NBA wives and authors of "Homecourt Advantage"

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Sibanye, 4031 W. Rogers Ave.

Call: 410-358-5806

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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