Legacy of Phil Jasner lives, breathes in book by son Andy
Andy Jasner finds the perfect way to honor legendary, Hall of Fame Sixers (and bonafide Philadelphia sports writer) Phil Jasner in his new book," On the Case."
Andy Jasner's latest work is mostly research, and team work, two things his father, Sixers beat writer, NBA hall of famer and jack of all trades features writer Phil Jasner loved.
Andy and Metro chatted about what it took to piece together his favorite works from his dad, and getting heartfelt contributions from Philly greats Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Paul Westhead, Billy Cunningham, Merrill Reese and more.
What was it like getting this together?
"It was about a four-year project that started after my third daughter was born. She came into this world, after the of the sadness of losing my dad, here comes Leah Paige Jasner, (the P is for Phil). I said 'How can I keep my dad's legacy going?' So I got the idea and I started thinking about it and I started thinking, 'well, a book that I write is going to be meaningless so I want it to be his work.' I started thinking and got the idea to put together his greatest works together.
"It was an arduous task but a true labor of love. I went through thousands of articles through old albums that my grandmother put together, through things that I had with help from archives from various folks at the Daily News. The first chapter went all the way back to 1962. I wanted people to know he was not only associated with the Sixers. There was a lot of a body of work from well before that — I got a lot of comments from people about the soccer chapter. The 1973 Atoms, I was a ball boy for that.
"I ready just wanted this book to be a continuation of his legacy. I have someone introducing each chapter which lent it credibility. I wrote my little forward and left it at that. I put it all together between midnight and 6 a.m. which was hard to do."
You are pretty lucky to have this incredible record of your dad's work. A lot of people don't have records and memories like this to be able to look back at this way.
"It was very therapeutic on my part. I could have had more, but I didn't want it to be so overwhelming that I lost people. Merrill Reese and Phil Jasner weren't just colleagues they were childhood friends who threw the football around in elementary school and junior high. It starts you on a path from there and takes you through a lifetime of incredible memories. It wasn't just game stories, it was [Julius Erving's visit to] Sesame Street and proving that Doc could actually fly by talking to a physicist. That story came out in 1986 and the last two lines — and I know dad because he meant it — ' will always believe Doc could fly and thats what I will tell my grandkids someday.' It was fast forward to the future when I typed that out. It was kind of crazy.
"Losing him so tragically and unexpected at the end too, this was another reason to give the readers a flashback. He's been gone almost seven years, people remember him like it was yesterday that's a Philadelphia thing I can't explain. It's not like that in other places. You have the fraternity here we get from our sporting work. When we go other places it's really different there."
What did you learn about him that you didn't know?
"Kids think they know their parents to the most minute detail but that's not true. It was kind of exciting and exhilarating and a little big eerie at the same time. It was all part of the therapeutic process of this project. It was just special all the way around. There were points when I didn't think I would finish. I typed in every word myself, going back and re-living it was a very cool. I could feel the passion in him typing a story in 1976, now in 2017, with having that rush.
"I didn't want anyone else to of that. I had some archive help with patches I couldn't find but I did every word, no stenographer hired, I did the entire book myself. It came out the exact way I wanted it to."
How did it go, putting together those section introductions?
"There were a lot of bleeps in there it, was just raw. That was the way Allen [Iverson] was. And Charles [Barkley] too, he told that story and I had to edit some bleeps out too.
"It was a combination of respect, admiration and professionalism that they trusted him. Paul Westhead told me 'there was this crazy looking dude with thick curly locks who had a crazy look on his face but he did his homework and I answered this questions because he worked hard on them.' They trusted him and that trust never waned."