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The Breaks of the Game Paperback – February 17, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
David Halberstam, best-selling author of THE FIFTIES and THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST, turns his keen reporter's eye on the sport of basketball -- the players and the coaches, the long road trips, what happens on court, in front of television cameras, and off-court, where no eyes have followed -- until now. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The difference between good books on sports and great books on sports is that the great books aren't really about sports. Ok, ok, that's not quite fair. The Breaks of the Game expertly chronicles the 79-80 Trailblazers and captures the ebbs and flows of an NBA season: the injuries, the mastery of the coach, the skill of the players, the relief of NBA victory and the very real (for Jack Ramsey, especially) pain of defeat. This is a book very much about sports and its heroes.
But, more than that, The Breaks of the Game is about the growing pains of the NBA as it entered its golden age--the age of Magic and Bird--and the way those pains were felt. What makes this book so incredible is the way that Halberstam blends objective observation with his keen knowledge of the game, its history, and his great capacity to see the humanity in everyone. When all of his considerable skills are dedicated to painting a portrait of Maurice Lucas, for instance, the player becomes the man, vibrantly portrayed and filled with conflicting instincts and emotions. Halberstam deftly works into his analysis of the players, the team, and the league as a whole the seminal aspects of money, respect, and race. The ideas and observations fueling the book are fantastic, and Halberstam's subtle, lyrical prose makes them all the more powerful. Ultimately, this is a book about people: who they are, why they play, what they need, how they interact.
In short, this is the best book on basketball--and one of the best books, period--that I've ever read. It is thorough, fiercely intelligent, and captures a moment in time when the NBA was in flux between the white, poor league it was and the black, rich league it has become.
Halberstam is more than fair in his depiction of all the personalities involved with and on the periphery of the team. His exhaustive research is in evidence. The players are not shown to be charming charismatic larger than life heroes but human beings with stories of their own, interesting ones at that. Mr. Halberstam successfully conveys how the personalities all combined to make up this team.
The thing about this book is that Mr. Halberstam always presents a new take even on well covered topics. He makes you consider what you may not have considered otherwise.
Interestingly this book covers the team in something of a decline not the championship year. That in itself gives a unique view at the end of this book you have an idea of not only why they won but of the difficulty of repeating as champions, of the tenuous relationships formed between players, the slights, the friendships, the business of sports and those behind.
Vivid and rich with color and power. This book doesn't disappoint. Everyone from the rather unique owner to the 12th man. From preseason to playoff. An excellent read.
Breaks of the Game is as well-written and thoroughly researched as any sports book you'll find. Halberstam presents fact after fact on why the NBA game has been shaped by big money and TV moreso than any player, coach, or team. He does a tremendous job exposing the conflict between the league's big money sponsors and its actual product--a game predominantly being played and dominated by black athletes.
Halberstam's excellence isn't limited to the politics and power struggles taking place in NBA front offices. His reporting on the actual game played between the lines is insightful and intriguing. Many of the complaints about today's NBA game--too much one-on-one play, ballyhooed rookies not paying their dues, primadonnas, lack of fundamentals, etc-- are covered in-depth by Mr. Halberstam. Keep in mind, this was written in 1978-79.
It's a great book that can easily be appreciated by anyone--hoops fan or not. And if you consider yourself an NBA fan, then you need to get on this ASAP. Although I wouldn't pay the prices here on Amazon. $59 for a paperback book? Strange. Like another reviewer said: Check your local library. Good luck and enjoy!
The book tells the story of the 1979-80 season, at the beginning of the book a timeline is given of the Blazers, their coaches and first round picks from their start in 1970 to 1980.
The team won the Championship for 1976-77 so much of the telling of the '79-'80 season is compared to the Championship season. Bill Walton was the star of that team. The years that followed he injuried his foot and eventually left the team under a not good situation so that is hashed and rehashed. Any character that is mentioned is then explained what impact he had on Walton or Walton had on them. Almost each character that is introduced we get their life history, weather it matters or not. Just too many people, and, most are injured and cannot play anyway.
Coach Jack Ramsey has a game plan for the team but the team is not winning, oh, and players are injuried. The season could have been broken up into chapters by the months but it is not. Just one very long lumbering chapter. Some pages feature one paragraph for the whole page.
For me the most interesting part was how TV coverage and the TV contracts somewhat changed the league and brought in more $. Also black players entering the league changed it from a game played by slow white men stuck on the ground to something akin to what is seen on the playgrounds. Racism is mentioned often which suprised me that it was a problem even in 1980.
Kermit Washington is mentioned for having been involved in an on-court fight that involved Rudy Tomjanovich.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Maybe not one of the greatest sports books ever (as I had heard), but still very good.Published 4 days ago by Brian Ruggles
A first hand ,insider view of the nba before the Jordan era as the league was just starting to become a big money, national attraction. Read morePublished 1 month ago by santo mollica
If your a fan of the Portland Trailblazers then this is the book for you. Otherwise, find another read for your NBA fixPublished 1 month ago by MW
After reading Bill Walton's recent exceptional biography I decided to read this book by Bill's close friend and noted historian, David Halberstam. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rick Spell
Halberstain, long one of my favorite authors, focused this book on the event-filled 1979-80 basketball season of the Portland Trail Blazers. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Blaine Greenfield