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

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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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)

From the Back Cover

PETE AXTHELM follows the 1969-70 season of the New York Knicks and provides a parallel focus on basketball as it was then played in the black neighborhoods of New York City. Throughout, he writes clearly, intelligently, and passionately about the game, bringing alive the players' efforts, accomplishments, and failures.
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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: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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By Darlene on February 4, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this one for my son also. He is a retired athlete and just loves books about the history of sports in general and everything concerning
sports. He says he learned alot about the development of basketball by reading this book. He gives it a "thumbs up" rating.
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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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Format: Paperback
Close your eyes, take your time machine, then open this book. You are seated at Madison Square Garden and eager to live one more time that epic season. But it's not over. We're in NYC, so basket is a faith and you have a sanctuary to visit: it's Rucker Park. Here you can earn the immortal respect.
Pete Axthelm superbly goes with you page after page in a marvellous jorney in the city of basketball, "the city that knows and love it best".
It's not only a sport book, it's a free entry for Basketball City of New York.
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I am reading through the Sports Illustrated's top 100 sportsbooks of all time and this book is deservedly on the list. I found it a little dated but the research that Axthelm poured into the book makes it worthy of a read. It has become a historic book and one that I am proud to own.
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