“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.”

Read the Review

Kirkus (starred review)

Head Fake is about how laughter can save us. It’s 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.”

Comedian, Actor, Writer, Filmmaker

Chris Rock

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.”

National Book Award Finalist, winner of the Terry Southern Prize for Humor, author of The Throwback Special

Chris Bachelder

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.”

Head Coach, Philadelphia 76ers, 2019 NBA Champion, 2020 NBA Coach of the Year

Nick Nurse

“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)

Publisher’s Weekly

“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.”

Midwest Book Review

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer

“Head Fake accomplishes a rare feat; to make me care as much about the protagonists as the game they play. The truth under the mental illness subject matter could’ve come off as medicine in lesser hands, but Scott’s ability to merge character development without slowing plot is simply amazing. I love this book! You will too!”

Writer/producer, Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, The Boondocks, American Gods

Rodney Barnes

"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! 5 stars"

Los Angeles Book Review

“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.”

Producer of Concussion

David Wolthoff

“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.”


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.

Author of The Fireballer

Mark Stevens

“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.”

Bestselling author of One Cut and writing Instructor, UCLA

Eve Porinchak

“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.”

Writer and Executive Producer of TV’s Euphoria and Power

Gary Lennon

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.”

Actor and Emmy Award Winning Producer of the film Temple Grandin

Gil Bellows

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.

Story Coach and author of the novel Mosquito

Doug Kurtz

"Scott Gordon’s novel Head Fake is a compassionate look at young people with mental illness and how society treats them. The novel 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."

Award-winning author of After Happily Ever After and The Stories We Cannot Tell

Leslie A. Rasmussen

"Like all great underdog stories, Head Fake includes a group of loveable misfits led by an unlikely hero who we pray, against all odds, might win. The fact that the unlikely hero is a recently homeless twenty-six-year-old man living with anxiety and depression who takes a job as a high school basketball coach for kids with serious mental health challenges raises this underdog story to a whole new level. Full disclosure: I’ve never even watched a basketball game, but I eagerly turned the pages in this heartfelt, funny, wise book like a rabid fan standing and cheering for my team from the stands. Of course, this story’s not about basketball. It’s about not giving up. On anybody. Not even yourself."

Award-winning writer, author of All the Girls in Town

Staci Greason

"Inspiring, deeply emotional and uplifting, are just a few simple words to describe a truly wonderful work that reminds us to never judge and to never give up."

ex-Chairman BAFTA LA, Publisher of THE LAB MAG and President of Screen International North America

Nigel Daly OBE