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Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
“The absolute definitive work on the subject, a perfectly wonderful once-you-pick-it-up-you-won’t-be-able-to-put-it-down book.”—The Boston Globe
“An Olympic hoops dream.”—Newsday “What makes this volume a must-read for nostalgic hoopsters are the robust portraits of the outsize personalities of the participants, all of whom were remarkably open with McCallum, both then and now.”—Booklist (starred review) “One of the best basketball books you’ll ever read.”—The New York Post
“A great read for basketball junkies.”—Los Angeles Times “[A] stellar retrospective.”—The New York Times
“The Dream Team was one of a kind, and so is this fascinating account of the best basketball team of all time. Jack McCallum, the consummate basketball insider, lures you into the back rooms, living rooms, and locker rooms of this volatile group of superstars with revealing, colorful anecdotes that will make you laugh, cheer, and gasp. This is a terrific read by an all-star journalist.”—Jackie MacMullan, New York Times bestselling co-author of When the Game Was Ours
“Perfect book, perfect subject, perfect writer. Dream Team is one of the best sports books I have ever read—a riveting inside look at a once-in-a-lifetime squad at a once-in-a-lifetime moment in time. Jack McCallum has pieced together a masterpiece.”—Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness and Boys Will Be Boys “Jack McCallum is one of my favorite writers on the NBA. If Jack writes it, even if I know the story, I want to read it. He reflects the best of his longtime residence in the glory days of Sports Illustrated: You can see the event, but you still want to know what the reporter has to say about it. Dream Team is a wonderful look back at what will live on not only as one of the NBA’s great times but as a summary of its golden era. Jack beautifully blends what happened then with where-are-they-now? anecdotes, taking you behind the locker-room door with the greatest names of their era. This is such a wonderful read, you can’t help but smiling.”—Sam Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Jordan Rules
About the Author
Jack McCallum is the author of Seven Seconds or Less and a longtime member of the staff of Sports Illustrated. He has edited the weekly SCORECARD section of the magazine, has written scripts for various SI Sportsman of the Year shows, and is currently a contributor to the magazine and SI.com. He has won the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Women Sports Foundation Media Award and teaches college journalism. He lives with his wife in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
--I make a nice tomato sauce, using bell peppers and vinegar. --Our family used to have two waverunners that I drove too wildly and served as a poor example for my sons, who also drove too wildly. We don't have them anymore. --My wife is smarter than I. One of my sons is a farmer and the other is a professor of sociology and both are also smarter than I. --I'm not sure what else I would've done if I weren't a journalist. I always dreamed about having a TastyKake route at the Jersey shore. I am at the shore much of the summer but have no route, though I do enjoy Tastykakes. --I played a lot of pickup basketball until I tore my Achilles. My knees aren't great either. --Though it is more in the romantic tradition of journalism to have an eccentric two-fingered typing style, I type well, owing to a background in piano and a typing class in high school. I now suck at the piano. --I will talk about my grandson, Oliver, all day. He is also smarter than I even though he's not yet 3. --My golf game is just good enough to be ultimately disappointing. --I count myself lucky to have been covering the NBA in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The 1992 USA Olympic basketball team was dubbed "Dream Team." And, why not? The team featured the golden trio of Michael Jordan (perhaps the most famous person in the world at the time), Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as well as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Christian Laettner (the only college player). Chuck Daly was the coach. Author Jack McCallum describes the team as "a collection of immortals gathered in one place at one time."
The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona marked the first time professional athletes could compete. The challenge, however, was to convince the NBA's best players to sacrifice their summer, compete as a team and to do it essentially for free.
McCallum, who covered the NBA and the Dream Team for Sports Illustrated, details how the Dream Team was selected and profiles each player He also writes about the efforts to keep Isiah Thomas off the team. Jordan, who wielded immense power, despised Thomas and didn't want him on the team. And, it was more important to make Jordan happy than any thing else. Even though Thomas was the best player on the Detroit Pistons, who had won back-to-back NBA championships, he was not a Dream Team member.
Although Bird, who was on the verge of retirement because of a bad back, and Magic, who had recently announced he had HIV and faced an uncertain NBA future, were co-captains, Jordan was the team's kingpin.
The inevitable question for a team like the Dream Team is "How do you play with just one basketball?" Incredibly, that was not a problem. Magic and Jordan made it clear from the beginning that there would be no problem with playing time. "We're here to win," they said. And, it was true.Read more ›
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I was 8 years old when the Dream Team played in Barcelona. I remember thinking about how great the team was. After following the NBA quite closely this past year, I had lost touch on how great the team was, specifically how great Michael Jordan was. In this book, you get to really understand how great Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, et al. are.
While getting to understand the greatness of the team is valuable, the best part of the book is the behind the scenes look. We get to see the human side of the players without getting into exploitative tabloid news. We see how Michael Jordan's competitive nature allowed him to play 36 holes of golf and then come out and play excellent defense on Toni Kukoc (the game against Croatia). We get to see how hard it was for Pippen to be in Michael's shadow. We get to learn about Bird's back problems, Magic Johnson's controversial revelation of having AIDS. We get to read about the controversy surrounding not taking Isiah Thomas to Barcelona, the difficulty of Christian Laettner being the only college player on the team.
There's a lot of great stuff in the book, so I'll just mention two more things which I think deserve their own paragraph in the review:
1) The book talks about the difficulty in getting the Olympics to accept professional basketball players. In particular, it talks about the plight of the "Inspector of Meat" to convince the bureaucracy of both the Olympics and the NBA to join in and allow this team to form. It was a great time for basketball as Magic and Larry had saved the league, followed by the strengthening of it with Michael's excellence. It was well worth the read to find out about these deals and learn about how great things need the work of many people in many different areas.Read more ›
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On the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking entry of US pro basketball players into International and Olympic play, longtime NBA and Sports Illustrated writer, Jack McCallum, has given us probably as close as possible , a primary source into what turned out to be a grand experiment that changed the sport forever. Because McCallum was so close to the team, yet also kept professional, journalistic distance, he has provided for the general reader, an inside account with enough distance to add some real comprehension into what happened, for the sport and the athletes involved.
Wisely, I think, McCallum breaks his story up into chapters that focus on individuals. So a chapter places the larger story within a context of a chapter on Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Charles Barkley. He does provide the larger context for the Dream Team's inclusion, including interviews with Yugoslav FIBA representative, Boris Stankovic, a man largely unknown to American basketball fans, but without whom, the game might not have exploded as such a world wide, popular sport in the last few decades.
This story is partly anecdotal, partly personal memoir (because McCallum did have as much outside access to the Dream Team as anyone, partly journalism and partly history. It is clear that a tremendous amount of work and research went into this book. McCallum had extensive one on one interviews with all the '92 Dream Team players in the last two years, to get their reflections on the event, after having their initial reactions, as events happened 20 years ago.Read more ›
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