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.
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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 LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved