Many of the main characters in the novel are on the Springfield Central High basketball team, including Quinn, English, Guzzo, and Shannon. The characters take basketball very seriously, largely because it represents their chance to secure a full ride to college. Furthermore, basketball is also shown to be significant as a way of putting aside one’s personal issues in order to work together as a team. Coach Carney emphasizes the importance of leaving the outside world at the door, putting aside differences in order to function as one unit. At first, Quinn is convinced by Coach’s advice and wants the team to act as a “colorblind” whole, where racial difference doesn’t matter. However, after Coach bans members of the basketball team from attending the protest, Quinn becomes more suspicious of the demand that the team forget about the outside world. He comes to believe that basketball is not separate from the issues of the outside world, and in order to be a good team it is necessary to confront these issues, rather than ignoring them.
Basketball Quotes in All American Boys
I wasn’t a stand-in for Dad. Nobody could be that. When the IED got him in Afghanistan, he became an instant saint in Springfield. I wasn't him. I'd never be him. But I was still supposed to try. That was my role: the dutiful son, the
All-American boy with an All-American fifteen-foot deadeye jump shot and an All-American 3.5 GPA.
I begin almost every day the same way: Ma's voice in my head, telling me what I needed to do, what I needed to think about, how I needed to act. But on mornings like this one––or if Coach Carney was making us do suicides up and down the court for fifteen minutes, or when Dwyer dropped another five-pounder on either side of the bar on my last rep in the weight room––it was Dad's voice in my head, or at least what I thought was his voice. I hadn't heard it in so long, I couldn’t even tell if it was his or if I was making it up. Whatever it was, it got me to where I needed to get.
PUSH! If you don't, someone else will. LIFT! If you don't, someone else will. Faster faster, faster, faster FASTER!
Well, where was I when Rashad was lying in the street? Where was I the year all these black American boys were lying in the streets? Thinking about scouts? Keeping my head down like Coach said? That was walking away. It was running away, for God's sake.