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Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made Paperback – February 1, 2000
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That he would now turn his considerable abilities to exploring Michael Jordan is not surprising. Halberstam loves hoops, and Jordan not only defines the game, he defines an era. His fame crosses international borders as easily as he dribbles past half-court lines. In focusing on Jordan--as athlete and force of nature--and his osmosis from a young hoop dreamer to product pitchman to the world, Halberstam is really examining intangibles like myth and legend, celebrity and fame, wealth and image, excellence and genius, race and style, the qualities of heroism and the pursuit of perfection. "That there had been even one Michael Jordan seemed in retrospect something of a genetic fluke," he writes, "and the idea that anyone would arrive in so short a span of time and do what he did both on and off the court seemed highly unlikely." But the phenomenon that is Jordan did just that.
Understanding, even admiring, what he did, how he did it, and what it means in a basketball context and a larger one is Halberstam's goal, and, despite Jordan's lack of cooperation--or maybe because of it--Halberstam's muscular prose and thinking scores powerfully. Yet, there is a wistfulness, in the end, to Playing for Keeps; the game doesn't seem as much fun and collegial as it used to for Halberstam, and Jordan, great as he may be, emerges with less of the historic grace exhibited by Jackie Robinson, Ali, and Arthur Ashe than with a quality that Halberstam deems the athlete-explorer "in terms of going beyond previously accepted limits of what was humanly possible, and somehow by dint of physical excellence and unmatched willpower, pushing those limits forward that much more." Dazzling, certainly, but not necessarily heroic. Playing for Keeps is also available on audiocassette. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It would be hard to read this book and not come away impressed at Jordan's willingness to push himself to do anything legal to be the best and to win.
What didn't I like about the book? There was no index and no footnotes. Much of it was derivative (I'd read The Jordan Rules and A March to Madness and recognized the portions pulled from them). This book sheds no light on Jordan's off-the-court life. It's not strictly chronological, making it confusing to follow at times. And Jordan's change from a wide-eyed and approachable young man to a sophisticated and more aloof man of the world, a worthy story in itself, just happens all of a sudden.
I'd still give the book four stars. The pre-NBA portion is in the same league with the excellent current Lombardi biography (When Pride Still Mattered), and the rest of the book, though flawed, is strong enough to merit the rating.
This is not merely a book which focuses on the greatness of Jordan; although, it does that. What Halberstam does even better is capture and capsulize the events and influences that assisted in making Jordan the figure he became. What separates Halberstam from other sports' historians is his detailed attention to, and superb research of the supporting cast and societal influences.
Markedly as interesting as the continual rise and perfection of Jordan's own career are the other cultural and societal phenomenons, which simultaneously converged to elevate Jordan's career and change the culture of basketball and other professional sports. For instance, Halberstam fully develops the emergence of ESPN as a cultural and societal change. Not only did the coinciding emergence of ESPN influence and shape Jordan's career, but it changed the way popular America approached sports and reshaped the perception of American athletes. For better or worse, ESPN has changed athletes from mere sports heros into rock-stars. As interesting is the development of sports' agents and their influence on the players, and the resulting players' attitudes influence on the games that they play and we watch; not to mention, the evolution of Nike from merely a successful shoe company into a ubiquitous marketing presence.
And as interesting as the symbiotic societal developments are the stories of Jordan's supporting cast.Read more ›
This book gives wonderful insight into Jordan. However, the book is much more about the entire panoramic story behind and around Jordan. The book centers on Jordan, but it is also about the NBA in general, the dominant teams over the last 20 year, the emergence of cable TV and the entertainment culture, as well as, the fundamental change between players from the time Jordan came into the league and now. It is truly the big picture, and it amazes me how easily Halbestam weaves the whole thing together.
If there's one thing I wish this book had, it's even more insight into the brilliant Phil Jackson. And, even though the entire book is about Jordan, it's still lacking in some way about the man's core. It's hard to put my finger on what's missing. Maybe if Jordan had consented to be interviewed - maybe then we'd undertand more.
Here's my favorite Jordan story from the book - I wish there were more. For some reason this one seems to get at the almost maniacal, pathological way that MJ thinks. And it makes sense; Jordan is so incredibly competitive, and pushes himself so hard, there must be something out of whack in there.
The story is about the deciding game 6 of the NBA Championship series against Phoenix.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting work from a terrific author. If you like BBall, I would recommend this book to you. Quick read, too.Published 6 months ago by Leonard Eddinger
Like all of his books, well researched, and giving great insight into what made Mike what he is, and also great background on others, like Scottie Pippen, etc. Well worth reading.Published 7 months ago by Gary Hernandez
great investigative piece, very solid book.
halberstam is now deceased, but this book could really use an update, several characters are now in very different places. Read more
A well written bit of insight behind the Jordan story. A must read for for those who want to understand the Jordan "Legend". Lots more to it than just basketball.Published 16 months ago by frequent user
When a writer first puts his pen to paper, there are a number of things that are being sought. More than anything else, a writer wrestles with how to take something as complex as... Read morePublished 16 months ago by The Careful Observer
Absolutely unique book, fantastic telling, epic story concerned an unique athlete, an icon not only of contermporary sport but also a pattern of personnality in an area of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by DARIUSZ WYSPIANSKI
Great story and truly inspiring. I had to get the paper book at the library. It was not ideal that this book was only available as a cassette tape. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Richard R. De Blasio