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Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever Hardcover – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's not the worst mistake in sports history, but it's among the most famous-with the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers selected Sam Bowie instead of several future stars, including Michael Jordan. In this tremendously readable book, Bondy tells the full story of that draft, which most experts consider the best ever. Bondy follows six draftees-Bowie, Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Sam Perkins, and John Stockton. With commentary from scouts, general managers, coaches, and the players themselves, Bondy draws a portrait of each player, from just before the draft to the present day. Bondy perfectly synthesizes exactly why each player landed where he did, examining prevailing draft philosophies, recent roster blunders and the possibility that teams lost on purpose. While not as revelatory as Michael Lewis' Moneyball (Bondy's post-mortem of Portland's mistake focuses on familiar themes, particularly the fetishism of height), this book is every bit as enjoyable as the baseball bestseller. Bondy delves deeper into the character of Bowie than anyone has before, revealing a likeable man with terrible luck, and gives the reader a sense of how profoundly Jordan, Barkley and Olajuwon reshaped the league. It may not be transcendent enough to breakthrough with non-basketball fans, but anybody with a cursory interest in the game is in for a treat.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The 1984 NBA college draft produced Michael Jordan, Akeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton--all future Hall-of-Famers. Bondy, a New York Daily News columnist, explores the draft and its far-reaching impact with analysis and interviews of the principals--coaches, scouts, and general managers. Rod Thorn, the Chicago Bulls general manager who selected Michael Jordan, reveals that he came close to trading the man who would become the face of the NBA to Houston for a package that included the previous season's rookie of the year, Ralph Sampson. League history would have been a bit different without Chicago's six championships in the 1990s. Bondy also offers a thoughtful portrait of Sam Bowie, the Kentucky center selected by Portland immediately before Jordan. His career was destroyed by injuries, and as a result he's become the poster child for poor draft choices. Also included are profiles of Barkley, Olajuwon, and Stockton as well as some of the next tier of players from the draft. This mother lode of wouldas, couldas, and shouldas will make very entertaining and informative reading for NBA fans. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814860
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's quite a privilege to be the first amazon.com reviewer to weigh in on Filip Bondy's excellent book about the 1984 NBA Draft, a seminal event in league history in which four sure-fire Hall of Famers were drafted: Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. To a lesser extent, the Bondy's book also covers Sam Perkins, another class of '84 draftee whose nice career fell a bit short of Hall standards.

The best part of the story though is Bondy's inclusion of the famous pick #2: Sam Bowie. Famous for the wrong reason because MJ was pick #3. The nice part of the book is Bowie's cooperation with the author. I was very pleased to see and read of his gentle manner, his happiness in life and his "no regrets" look back to his injury-prone career. He seems unperturbed by naysayers who term his pick as "the NBA draft's biggest historic blunder." Because, as Bondy skillfully points out, this is revisionist history. This was 'before Michael was Michael.' Dean Smith kept Jordan's breakout talents well-concealed with the UNC team system. Barkley, speaking in Bowie's defense, says (in typical Barkley hyperbole) "No one but me knew how good Michael was."

Moreover, the prevailing wisdom in the NBA back in those days was that you win with a big man. And, in the draft, given the option between a good big man and a good playmaker, you always went with the big man. Portland, with its reverie of Bill Walton's glory days culminating in the 1977 Association championship, was certainly very susceptible to that thinking...especially with Dr. Jack still at the helm.

That's the reason why Bondy subtitles his book "How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Verhoeven on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for an anthology on Michael Jordan, then stop reading now. But if you are looking for a definite history on the NBA, its clubs and some of the Top 50 greatest players, this is a must. It not only provides insights into the NBA draft and how it changed the landscape of the game, but it also provides a behind the scenes look into what teams were thinking and trying to achieve. Probably the best basketball book I have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Lichtenstein on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just think how the basketball landscape would have changed had the Houston Rockets traded Ralph Sampson straight up for Michael Jordan! The Bulls would have done it and were waiting for the Rockets to call but Rockets coach Bill Fitch was in love with the twin towers idea.
The Sixers had a deal in place to trade the aging Dr. J to the Clippers for Terry Cummings but didn't pull the trigger for fear of fan backlash.
Bobby Knight, the dictator that he is, had Michael Jordan in tears during the Olympic tryouts.
Charles Barkley showed up at the 1984 Olympic trials not with the goal of making the team, but rather improving his draft status.
When the tough Soviet team pulled out of the 1984 games Coach Knight cut Charles Barkley because he didn't care for his personality. But had the Soviets stayed in the Olympics Barkley wouldn't have been cut because his superb playing ability would have been needed to beat the Soviets.
Barkley gained 15 pounds within 24 hours to tip the scales at a Sixers predraft weigh in to scare them away from drafting him.
I could go on and on with all the interesting facts brought out in this book.

This book is not just about who was drafted when but more about how things fell into place. Teams with awful records playing hard at the end of the season because they had traded away their lottery pick - upsetting the teams that had traded for these picks. Teams with their lottery picks tanking it at the end of the season in order to get the highest pick possible. This tanking led to the weighted ping pong ball draft ordering system in place today.
It is amazing how many prior drafts and trades came around to help or haunt teams picking in the 1984 draft.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jmhard on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very fast read for me. The author focuses on several of the top picks from this draft: Olajuwon, Bowie, Jordan, Barkley, Stockton, and Perkins. He spends a lot of time on each of these players and gets very in-depth, and that alone made the book a worthwhile read to me.

Also, the author talks about some of the fall out from this draft: The NBA draft lottery, salary cap changes, and the globalization of the league. I enjoyed the author's style, lots of quotes from major players at the time and reflecting on the time later. The bibliography is quite extensive. So I felt like the author pulled a lot of info from lots of different articles and books I might have read separately anyway. I felt he did a nice job sorting through the material.

Again, I really enjoyed the book. If you love the NBA and love this particular era, I think you'll enjoy the book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vince Moon on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A previous review is correct - this book is mislabeled. The book spends very little time detailing how this draft changed the NBA forever - but instead focuses on the upbringing and collegiate biographies of Olajuwon, Jordan, Perkins, Barkley, Stockton, and Bowie.

Nevertheless, I found this book to be remarkable. Reading firsthand from various GMs and Stern about the various deals that occurred and didn't occur that resulted in the draft order in 1984 was exactly what I hoped to learn. I wanted to know of the potential trades that could have occurred - resulting in Jordan on the Mavs/Rockets/Blazers/Cavs/etc. All of the inside information that fans never get to know about was presented by Bondy - in addition to the biographical information of each of the "Sweet Six" players that made the draft.

Even the biographical info on each draftee was solid information. Before reading this book I had no idea that Barkely simply saw basketball as a means to an end - a way to make money to set himself up for life - and lobbied hard not to be picked by Philadelphia b/c the franchise was over the salary cap - whereas individuals like Olajuwon and Jordan wanted to play basketball and were willing to go anywhere to make a name for themselves on the court.

Just as interesting was also the information detailing the Olympic trials and Bobby Knight. Seeing how Knight whittled away the talent to create the Olympic team and the way he managed the roster of future stars was an interesting read - as was the information regarding how Barkley/Jordan interacted and worked with Knight was a fun read.
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