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The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds Paperback – February 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803259344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803259348
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The master prose stylist portrays parallel basketball worlds in New York City: Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks won the 1969-1970 championship, and the playgrounds of Harlem, where stars such as Earl (the Goat) Manigault burned brightly but too briefly."—Sports Illustrated
(Sports Illustrated)

"The best description of basketball played in New York City streets during the sixties and seventies."—Bill Bradley, The New Yorker
(Bill Bradley The New Yorker)

"Superb . . . [Axthelm] combines Knick history, player backgrounds, seasonal anecdotes and court triumphs with another phenomenon—city basketball in the crowded ghettoes of the nation. The areas he focuses on primarily are the asphalt playgrounds of Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. There basketball has its special code of behavior, its pecking order and its own culture heroes. . . . A few city playground aces have made it to college . . . , and a few have found an escape route to the Harlem Globetrotters or the Eastern League. But many others have become strung out on poverty or drugs or have been imprisoned. . . . The book offers absorbing insights into the most unique and gripping of all city sports."—Rex Lardner, New York Times
(Rex Lardner New York Times)

About the Author

Pete Axthelm was an editor for Newsweek. Rick Telander is a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a writer for ESPN Magazine.

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Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
I was bored throughout the book .
Robert Singer
The author, the late Pete Axthelm, does a great job of portraying the New York Knicks and pro ball along side the streetball side of the game.
W. John Paquette Jr.
Great books like this will keep Pete's name alive.
Craig Connell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This has the greatest combination of the Knicks first Championship season and the best of the playground Legends and Players. It shows the good and the bad of basketball in New York. It describes some legendary games by some of New York's finest athletes like the "Hawk","Goat","Destroyer","Helicopter",etc. If you love the true game you should get this book. Much love to Earl "The Goat" Manigualt who past away last year.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Leif Quinlan on August 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pete Axthelm has a handle on what makes basketball a wonderful sport, and why many of us are in love with it. He doesn't seem to know exactly what he wants to do with this book. Is he reporting on inner-city basketball heroes? On their gravity-defying dunks, or their lightning-quick handles? Or is he reporting on 1970, the year the Knicks won the NBA Championship. The two stories don't intertwin seemlessly as he would have them, and you are left feeling like you haven't been fulfilled on either of the stories in this book. I gave this book 4 stars based more on his obvious joy in writting it (which makes it very fun to read) than his actual skill in writting it. I would have been much happier buying two books as long as this one, one on inner-city basketball in New York City, and one on the Knicks Championship of 1970.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Real King Fish on April 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Pete Axthelm's classic basketball book, The City Game alternates between basketball as it was played in Harlem in the late 1960s and early-1970s and the 1969-70 Knicks championship season. The dual storylines work, and to call them juxtaposed would be inaccurate. They're woven together seamlessly by Axthelm, who wrote the book on the heels of the first Knick championship and had it on the shelves before the close of 1970.

I read The City Game for the first time when I was 13. I had basketball fever bad, and I would pore over Slam magazine every month. They ran a lot of streetball stories at that time, and I developed a real interest in guys like Earl Manigault and Herman Knowings. And like any Knick fan, I knew about Bradley and Frazier and the rest of the championship teams. When my dad gave me his copy of The City Game, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Someone else had seen the connection between streetball and pro ball? I thought I was the only one, in a way that only a 13-year-old can.

I'm more than twice as old now as I was when I read the book for the first time, and I was curious to see whether it was as good as I remembered. It was better. Axthelm was a talented writer, and the cast of characters in the NBA made things easy for him. Kareem was still Lew, Wes Unseld, Earl Monroe, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, not to mention "Clyde" and Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett and Willis Reed were all battling up and down the NBA. Every match-up the Knicks face is compelling, every game a war.

Axthelm got deep into Harlem and he profiled those who made it out of the neighborhood and those who didn't. His words about Manigault were written before "The Goat" turned his life around, making his story especially sad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Craig Connell on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read several great basketball books from early `70s and they were so good, I remember them to this day. One of them was this book. Another was "Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story." I'm sorry not to have either book in possession but that will be rectified. I'd particularly love to read this book again, almost 40 years later than when I first enjoyed it

The book is divided into two main categories: the 1969-70 New York Knicks championship season in the NBA and the playground legends around New York City. I found the book far more interesting and memorable when author Pete Axthelm wrote about the playground guys, particularly Earl "The Goat" Manigault, a name I have always remembered.

I used to see Axthelm interviewed on TV, or doing football and other sports commentary, and used to enjoy listening to him. He was a very good writer and speaker. Sadly, he died in 1991 at the age of 47.

Great books like this will keep Pete's name alive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Falk on July 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is about basketball and the way it is supposed to be played. True historical heros of the professional game and heros that didn't make it off the streets. This is the time of the NBA that is currently being referenced by analysts of today's game. An excellent read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Watson on August 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you've ever played basketball you have to read this book and you'll love it. From Madison Square Garden and, especially. to the playgrounds. From Clyde and Willis to the "Goat" and the "Helicopter."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It brought back alot of memories of the Knicks when I was in my teens. I also saw the movie Rebound "The lengend
of Earl "The Goat" Manigualt and throughly enjoyed it.
I grew up in Brooklyn where basketball was the game.
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