Robert Liss


BSR Contributor Since September 9, 2006

Robert Liss ([email protected]) is a psychologist and former basketball player who lives in San Francisco.

Like my fellow Broad Street Review contributor Dan Coren, I am a high school classmate of Dan Rottenberg, and was, again like Coren, also a frequent contributor to Dan’s old weekly magazine, the Welcomat. After completing psychoanalytic training at NYU’s Postdoctoral Program In Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in 1984, I moved from Manhattan to San Francisco a year later. My practice is both in San Francisco and Marin County.

So I am a psychologist-psychoanalyst by profession, but a critic and basketball coach by nature, and am very pleased that Dan re-affirmed his commitment to cronyism and invited me to become a contributor to Broad Street Review.

Over the past decade, my writing has been more experimental and less focused than it was when I wrote essays for the Welcomat. I am currently engaged both in trying to compile a group of my poems, stories, and essays into book form, and working on a long memoir revolving around my own relationship to my son’s just-completed high school basketball career.

Although I stopped playing organized basketball after my freshman year at Columbia, (where Dan Coren was again my classmate), I have played and coached in a broad variety of contexts over the succeeding four and a half decades, and continue to love the game, when it is played well, on all levels.

Basketball has always been the prism through which I filter my reflections and insights into the wider surround, although I often question which is really wider for me. In any case, the sport has become my storehouse for metaphors and analogies at every turn, and, however jaded commercialized sports are these days, the advent of a LeBron James is capable of appealing to my aesthetic sense in like fashion to great art of all sorts.

It is not for this reason alone that I urged Rottenberg, years ago, to expand his focus in Seven Arts magazine to eight and include basketball. Had he listened to me, environmentalists of all stripes would bemoan the needless waste of precious paper that Dan has saved us by adopting the Internet as his new medium. I am proud to be part of his exciting new endeavor.

By this Author

12 results
Page 1
His tragedies outweighed his infidelity.

"The Doctor': Julius Erving, beyond the hype

Flying a little too high

Julius Erving was once a great basketball player, role model and family man. In retrospect, he benefitted from the contrast between his relatively clean self and the coke-snorting brothers who were despoiling professional basketball's image before he came along.

Robert Liss

Articles 4 minute read
Heyman in '63: At the top, before a long fall.

Art Heyman: Athlete stuck in time

To an athlete who couldn't let go

The college basketball star Art Heyman died last week in Florida at age 71 without having solved the mystery he confronted in his 20s: After the glory faded, who was he?

Robert Liss

Essays 4 minute read

A homophobe in spite of himself?

Sunday in the park with Shaq, or: Getting in touch with my inner homophobe?

Went to a dance/ Lookin' for romance;/ Wound up with a giant dude/ A-sweatin' in his pants. But hey, it's San Francisco.

Robert Liss

Essays 5 minute read
Calhoun at work: 'Undefined' stress?

Basketball: Reflections on the Final Four

March Madness or April Fool: NCAA basketball as a commodity

What is college basketball these days, this way station between high school basketball and the bizarre circus of player movement and high finance that has become the National Basketball Association?

Robert Liss

Essays 8 minute read
A high IQ, on the court and off.

LeBron James makes his decision

Not just another superjock: The intuitive wisdom of LeBron James

No one outside Miami seems happy that the basketball superstar LeBron James has contracted to play for the Miami Heat. Yet a look at his decision suggests that this brilliant athlete and marketing engine made a decision based on personal values that celebrate the spirit of a game whose future development may rest in his enormous hands.

Robert Liss

Essays 6 minute read
Krzyzewski: New philosophy for new times.

NCAA basketball returns to its essence

A Final Four for the Age of Obama (i.e., change you can believe in)

White kids are back, team play is back— at this year's NCAA tournament, college basketball seemed to return to its simpler roots, even in a 71,000-seat stadium.

Robert Liss

Essays 8 minute read

"Book of Basketball' by Bill Simmons

The devil in the details

In a book of grand scope, Bill Simmons purports to resolve most of basketball's historic armchair controversies. As one who personally witnessed pro basketball's earliest days, I wish this young cub had paid closer attention to detail before claiming the mantle of ultimate authority.

Robert Liss

Articles 6 minute read
Racky B. displays his moves.

Obama's basketball coolness

A rock star? No. A hoop star? Yes.

Above all, Obama's style is just cool— even by Marshall McLuhan's definitive conception— and it's clear that he developed a great deal of it on the basketball court. Which may explain how his health care address to Congress seduced an ordinarily apolitical basketball/jazz guy like me.

Robert Liss

Essays 5 minute read
Calhoun at work: 'Undefined' stress?

Searching for meaning in "March Madness'

Missing Billy Packer: In search of meaning at the NCAA tourney

College basketball has changed exponentially since the 1990s, thanks to increased speed, athleticism and three-point shooting. Many fans today think the game began in 1979, when Magic Johnson matched up against Larry Bird. Amid such flux, who can define tradition, if not a TV commentator?

Robert Liss

Essays 13 minute read
401 Odengreg

Florida's NCAA basketball victory

As this year’s NCAA championship game wore on, it became clear that Florida was a basketball team, whereas Ohio State was merely an arsenal of impressive individuals.

Robert Liss

Essays 6 minute read

Bob Knight: Coaching or abusing?

The response of basketball coaches and sports commentators to coach Bobby Knight’s latest abuse demonstrates their implicit contempt for rules, language, and ordinary meaning, which have now become subordinate to fame and revenue-generating potential.

Robert Liss

Essays 5 minute read
207 Schortsanitis

Beware Greeks bearing basketballs

Americans invented basketball, but the Greeks invented passion. At this year’s World Championship games, even diehard American fans found themselves cheering for the children of Sophocles against our own arrogant superstars. Oh, and guess who won?

Robert Liss

Essays 6 minute read