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on April 1, 2015
This is one of the most famous books about basketball ever written. It captures a unique moment in the history of the NBA. The old Celtic dynasties are over and the Magic/Bird has not yet begun. Halbertsam, famous for his pulitzer prize wining reporting in Vietnam, follows the Portland Trail Blazers for a whole season. The team two years removed from their championship victory over the Sixers is struggling to survive the loss of the gifted Bill Walton to free agency. The playoffs and even a winning record are not guaranteed. But the real beauty of the book is not the drama of the Portland team but the changing nature of the NBA in general. Halberstam is writing in 1980. He cannot see that Magic and Bird will change the league and make it both popular and profitable. That is part of the beauty of this narrative; It is trapped in time. At the very end of the book, the owner of the San Diego Clippers decides to sell the team because, with Bill Walton injured he cannot make any money. He sells the team to a local real estate agent named Donald Sterling for 13.5 millions dollars. This is told without any irony because it was written in 1981.
This is the last Halberstam book I will read. I have read just about everything he has written and I was deeply saddened by this death. He has long been one of my favorite authors. But the cadence of his words becomes painfully predictable in this book. I will need a long fast before I can appreciate it again. (less)
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on December 11, 2014
This is a typical David Halberstam book in the sense it is meticulously accurate, documented and deeply descriptive of the real characters captured in this insightful story of professional basketball. The comprehensive, very interesting backgrounds of most of the real life personalities within this story are fascinating and engaging. The inclusion of team owners, coaches, trainers, general managers and most of all the players in this evolutionary human drama is a microcosm of our general society as it relates to socioeconomic, business and racial issues of the 70's and 80's. Almost any sports fan would enjoy and be fascinated by reading
" The Breaks of the Game ".
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on January 28, 2018
This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in an up-close look at what it's like to play in the NBA. It's entertaining on a number of levels -- as a piece of league history, as a study of a number of marvelously interesting characters, as a way to examine American culture at a particular time through the lens of sport, as an examination of Bill Walton, as a close look at how the game of basketball is played at high levels -- and the degree of access Halberstam got (and made good use of) is impressive. You really come away feeling like you know these people.
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on January 25, 2016
I believe this is the greatest sports literary accomplishment of all time. Every paragraph is perfectly constructed as the reader is drawn into the locker room with the Trailblazers, a team with unlimited potential and unforeseeable complications around every corner. Journalists are not allowed this level of access to athletes anymore. You will see why when reading this book - the relationships are fickle, fragile, and fascinating. Halberstam's unflinching account does not spare anyone from the scrutiny of his honest focus.
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on April 2, 2017
This work delves deeply into the Portland Trailblazers of the late seventies following their earlier championship season. Not only does it discuss the game of basketball, but it discusses deeply all the pressures felt throughout the team, from renegotiation of contracts to playing identity to second and third order effects of injury. While it may not get super deep into the "X's and O's" of the game of basketball, this work provides a broad view of a very tumultuous season for the blazers. Worth the time to read.
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on June 24, 2017
Literally one of the best books I've ever read. David Halberstam takes such an intense journalistic approach to every story. It may seem convoluted at first with each sentence seemingly leading to a pages long backstory, but you come to appreciate and look forward to reading every single one. From parts on Moses Malone, to Kermit Washington, and Jack Ramsay, this book truly does give you a great look into the individual components of that Trailblazers team.
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on August 9, 2017
Obviously written by an insider, the book is rich in facts. There is no theme, flow, or point. In fact, I was taken completely off guard when the book ended - without a coherent conclusion.
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VINE VOICEon May 31, 2010
I read this book nearly 30 years ago when it was originally published in 1981 and I just recently re-read it. It is very deserving of its classic status. Not only is it one of the best basketball books, it's one of the best sports books.

In Breaks of the Game, Halberstam follows the Portland Trailblazers through the 1979-80 season. The Trailblazers, who won the 1976-77 NBA championship, are without Bill Walton, who was traded to San Diego Clippers after suffering an injury and a broken foot. Walton sued the Trailblazers and team doctors, alleging malpractice.

Although Walton is no longer a Trailblazer, Halberstam writes a lot about him (all of it interesting) and his impact on the Portland club and the NBA.

Halberstam takes a social, racial and economic view of the NBA. He traces the impact of television on the NBA, the escalating salaries and the impact of black players on the league and the style of play. From the late 1960s to the mid-70s, thanks in large part to the fledgling ABA, the average salary in the NBA increased from $75,000 to $500,000 to $600,000. This decreased the influence of the coaches and increased the influence of the players.

After reading this book, you'll probably never think of a basketball team in the same way. It is much more complex, more fragmented and fragile than you think. Halberstam offers rich profiles of the players, coaches and owners, including Coach Jack Ramsay, coach Stu Inman, owner Lester Weinberg, Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas, Kermit Washington, Larry Steele, Bobby Gross, Dave Twardzik, Billy Ray Bates and others.

While this book is essentially about the Portland Trailblazers, it virtually touches every important NBA development. And, always with Halberstam's unmatched insight.

A great writer, Halberstam seems to effortlessly bring everything together in an extremely interesting manner. A minor complaint, however, is that the book has no chapters or index.
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on September 25, 2016
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. A good amount of history mixed in along the way, a great read for fans of the game, an informative read non fans. worth checking out.
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on September 24, 2017
I enjoyed this book. This author always generates well researched sports books
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