The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist looks at the life and times of the Chicago Bulls superstar— “The best Jordan book so far” (The Washington Post).
One of sport’s biggest superstars, Michael Jordan is more than an internationally renowned athlete. As illuminated through David Halberstam’s trademark balance of impeccable research and fascinating storytelling, Jordan symbolizes the apex of the National Basketball Association’s coming of age. Long before multimillion-dollar signings and lucrative endorsements, NBA players worked in relative obscurity, with most games woefully unattended and rarely broadcast on television. Then came Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Jordan’s two great predecessors, and the game’s status changed. The new era capitalized on Jordan’s talent, will power, and unrivaled competiveness. In Playing for Keeps, Halberstam is at his investigative best, delving into Jordan’s expansive world of teammates and coaches. The result is a gripping story of the athlete and media powerhouse who changed a game forever. This ebook features an extended biography of David Halberstam.
Halberstam (The Children, etc.) has written an excellent book about the game of basketball and its greatest player. Readers familiar with Halberstam's customary insight into American life might think he pulls some punches. But this is an engrossing portrait--much edgier than the ballplayer's own current bestseller, For the Love of the Game. This is an examination of Jordan as athlete and media phenomenon, of the superstar's professional life and also of the NBA's coming of age. The focus is squarely on Jordan's astounding competitiveness and will power, qualities that, Halberstam argues, have as much or more to do with Jordan's success than even his remarkable talent. Meandering back and forth through time, Halberstam covers everything from the invention of ESPN to the genius of Spike Lee's Nike commercials--and every major playoff game Jordan played. With equal enthusiasm, Halberstam profiles the supporting cast: Bulls' coach Phil Jackson, whose job was to "maximize Jordan's abilities, without letting him suck the oxygen away from his teammates"; agent David Falk, who created "the idea of the individual player as a commercial superstar"; teammate Scottie Pippen. The book is filled with salty, informed hoops talk. It does not, however, give readers an intimate look at Jordan, who declined the author's request for an interview. Nor does Halberstam pursue difficult questions about Jordan's character, about the way he has decided to use (or not use) his celebrity and his wealth.
Good, but no Breaks Of The Game
As the title says, his Breaks of the Game led me to devour this book hoping to get as much of an inside picture of the league & its players during the Jordan era.
I found the depth of this chronicle to be lacking in comparison. The writing is much more repetitive and missing are many the author's wry, subtle jabs of the earlier work.
To be fair, perhaps this is largely due to the more well-known and readily available history of the NBA after the boom of the early 80s. Still, the book did not provide as much insight into Jordan's early life, Carolina years, and early NBA career as I had hoped.