The game of basketball serves as a fitting metaphor for the conflicts and tensions of life. It involves both cooperation and competition, selflessness and ego. In the hands of a gifted writer like Sherman Alexie, those paradoxes become even deeper and more revealing. In his short story collections, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Toughest Indian in the World, his debut novel, Reservation Blues, and his recent young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie uses basketball to explore the ironies of American Indian reservation life and the tensions between traditional lifeways and contemporary social realities. So central is basketball to the Lone Ranger and Tonto short story collection, in fact, that the paperback edition's cover depicts a salmon--the Coeur d'Alene Indians are fishermen--flying over a basketball hoop. Communal experience typically trumps individualism in American Indian value systems, experience that often manifests itself in leisure activities of North American Indians. Although most contemporary anthropologists wisely hesitate to generalize across hundreds of American Indian societies, they do report, as do American Indian scholars and storytellers, that the sacredness of life, the balance or harmony of relationships among humans and between humans and nature, and the cultural centrality of stories characterize most Indian groups. Certainly the writings of American Indian authors like Michael Dorris, M. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Louise Erdrich return often to such themes.