top of page

HEAD FAKE, by Scott Gordon

Head Fake


Mikey makes everything a joke, even the clinical depression he’s struggled with for years. After a run of failed jobs, he becomes the unlikely basketball coach at a high school for high-risk offenders who are experiencing mental illness. The position becomes suddenly available after the team tried to strangle their last coach. 

Every instinct tells Mikey to get as far away from this school as possible. Coaching these kids, who have been arrested for who-knows-what, would be difficult for a normie. For Mikey, it could cause another breakdown and force him right back to living on the street. But he knows that if he has any chance to make his twenty-sixth birthday, he needs to keep this job, even if the school board wants him fired, and the students would rather fight each other than play ball. 


This poignant, hilarious, and sometimes uncomfortable novel proves that even the most damaged of us can emerge victorious.

Gordon - Reviews


Head Fake is like a jab in the ribs, reminding us that even in our worst hour, laughter and connection can be the flashlight in the dark, guiding us toward healing and redemption. – Chris Rock, comedian and actor


This debut novel sees an erstwhile homeless man with a history of depression become the basketball coach at a school for mentally ill juvenile offenders…The author’s exploration of mental illness is fearless and without artifice, portraying not only the debilitating effects on those afflicted, but also the trepidation, helplessness, anger, neglect, scorn, and occasional love returned to them by family and strangers.


Mikey is an engaging protagonist, and all of his charges emerge as distinct characters. Even stock figures like Mikey’s dad have depth beyond their narrative functions. Throughout, Gordon narrates events in clear, accomplished prose that captures the voice and heart of each player. Readers will find themselves caught up in the journey, cheering for Mikey and his team…An absorbing, uplifting tale of finding light and self-worth in adversity’s darkest depths. Kirkus (starred review)


Head Fake is a wonderful read on so many levels. The writing is superb, as the characters and each storyline kept me from wanting to put the book down. The topics of mental illness are hit with such brutal honesty and woven into a team taking its roller coaster ride through their basketball season with a rookie coach. So many themes touched me: coaching/support; team/togetherness; hanging in there/standing strong in the face of adversity; and mostly love and dedication. I highly recommend it.” – Nick Nurse, Head Coach, Philadelphia 76ers, 2019 NBA Champion, 2020 NBA Coach of the Year

Head Fake is an inspiring addition to the literature of sport, the literature of long odds and underdogs, the literature of mental illness, the literature of overbearing fathers. Scott Gordon writes with profound candor, wit, and empathy about people on the edge, people who could just really use a few wins.  Chris Bachelder, National Book Award Finalist, winner of the Terry Southern Prize for Humor, and author of The Throwback Special


Tonally reminiscent of Up in the Air, Sideways, and Fargo Rock City–the engrossing Head Fake can be simultaneously profound and hilarious. Scott Gordon’s highly accessible writing exhibits irreverence and pathos, with a deep empathy for his richly drawn characters. I was cheering along with their small victories, laughing along with their absurdities, and crying along with their traumas. Don’t wait for the inevitable film adaptation–you know the book is always better! Bring on the National Book Award.” – David Wolthoff, Producer of Concussion 


Despite its heavy subject matter, Head Fake is full of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, not just from Mikey’s frequent wisecracks but also the team’s antics as they forge unlikely bonds that help them cope with the heartbreaking challenges they face at school, at home, and within their own minds. Gordon’s precise, detailed writing not only brings each character's inner world into sharp relief, it also captures the team’s growth on the court…This persistently honest look at the difficult realities of mental illness avoids any sugar coating but still offers an uplifting tale full of warmth and humor. Funny, honest story of teamwork in the face of mental illness. – BookLife by Publisher’s Weekly (Editor’s Pick)  


Head Fake offers a suspenseful and emotional journey that's full of passion, conflict, drama, and resilience. Multiple stories from different realistic and deviant characters merge to create an unforgettable, heartwarming, and lifelike book. Furthermore, basketball fans and readers who enjoy stories about sports will love it. I strongly recommend it!" – Los Angeles Book Review (5 out of 5 stars) 


Scott Gordon's uplifting novel Head Fake combines humor with emotionally charged storytelling to explore themes of self-worth, perseverance, and the inner strength we can find when we need to fight for our team…one of the real strengths of the novel is Gordon’s fantastic characterization. Each of the students Mikey coaches has a convincingly rendered and unique voice. The reader quickly grows to care about every single one of them, and thereby becomes emotionally invested in their struggles. Gordon also uses the range of voices to good advantage comedically, drawing out humorous moments as each character looks for the (darkly) funny side of their difficult circumstances. The author’s deep compassion for his cast of underdogs and misfits is infectious, and readers will quickly find themselves cheering for the team’s successes—on and off the court.” – IndieReader


Like all the best novels that revolve around sports, Head Fake is much, much more than what happens on the basketball court. This is a novel that explores mental illness and offbeat youth with a warm heart. You won't soon forget Mikey Cannon and his underdog journey as he comes to realize that not everyone can play for the Lakers but anyone, in fact, can make a difference. Head Fake is nothing but net. – Mark Stevens, author of The Fireballer 


Head Fake is a rousing story of failure, success, and connection. Scott Gordon creates a multifaceted story… a wry tone of ironic humor permeates the novel, lending it just the right flavor of insight and fun to keep readers enjoying and thinking… an examination of intergenerational relationships; an uplifting success story that navigates mine fields of failure before achieving its goals. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


Head Fake made me laugh and cry in equal measure—sometimes simultaneously. Scott Gordon treats his cast of misfit basketballers with compassion and sensitivity, and writes unflinchingly about the mental health issues that challenge them both on the court and off. More than an underdog sports story, this gut-wrenching and ultimately uplifting novel will have you cheering in ways you never imagined.” Doug Kurtz, Story Coach and author of the novel, Mosquito


Mikey Cannon and his eclectic basketball team are not just characters, but complex and fascinating humans who will leap off the pages and nest inside your psyche long after the final point is scored. Emerging from street homelessness, and yearning to make his championship winning father proud, Mikey takes a job as a bus driver, then basketball coach, at an alternative Los Angeles school for juvenile offenders, who suffer from a wide range of mental illnesses. Connecting with these kids, like nobody ever has, Mikey creates an unlikely family bound by shared trauma, a lot of heart and humor, and unparalleled empathy. This is not your typical “dude helps troubled” kids story. This story will gut you, and change your perception of those we deem outcasts forever. Scott Gordon weaves an absolutely brilliant and authentic tale that set me on a roller coaster (the thrilling, yet frightening, upside down kind) of emotions. It’s been ages since I’ve read a story that can have me cackling one second, then bawling my eyeballs out the next. – Eve Porinchak, Bestselling Author of One Cut  

Scott Gordon’s novel Head Fake is a compassionate look at young people with mental illness and how society treats them. The novel book is inspiring, and exciting and the pacing of the story creates the perfect amount of tension to keep you turning pages. Gordon’s characters were so well drawn and realistic, they jumped off the page and begged me to get to know them. I couldn’t help but to root for them as they worked together to push past their weaknesses. This is one of those books that you will think about and wonder how it will end, and then when it does, you will miss the characters as they will have found a place in your heart. A novel I won’t soon forget." Leslie A. Rasmussen, award-winning author of After Happily Ever After and The Stories We Cannot Tell

Head Fake is a wonderful and timely story that illustrates in the most basic and profound ways the absence of connectivity and understanding between young people in crisis, their families, and the very institutions designed to help them. Scott's writing exemplifies how that disconnect contributes heavily to a growing epidemic in this country - mental illness in young people. Head Fake is a celebration of life. It reveals that being part of something bigger than oneself - a team, a purpose - can help assuage some of that isolation and pain. We see how love and empathy can transform communities one child at a time. Head Fake is inspiring, moving, and meaningful. It made me laugh all the way through. A great story - a great piece of work.” – Gil Bellows, Actor and Emmy Award Winning Producer of the film, Temple Grandin


Gordon writes with humor and compassion about a courageous team of characters as they navigate friendship, contend with their demons, and play some hoops. Head Fake is a masterful debut.” – Gary Lennon, Writer and Executive Producer of TV’s Euphoria and Power

Meet Scott

Scott Gordon’s fiction has appeared in the Green Hills Literary Lantern (GHLL), Modern Times Magazine, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Satirist, and Mobius Magazine.


In addition to writing fiction, he has written and directed films and television series, including A History of Black Achievement in America, Great American Authors, and more.


Scott spent years working as a Youth Advocate for juvenile offenders with mental illness. Head Fake is inspired by the strength and courage of the kids he worked with.


Originally from New Jersey, Scott lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Samantha, and their two rescue pups, Mel Brooks and Khaleesi Bee. 

Gordon - Author
bottom of page