The Breaks of the Game (Anglais) Broché – 17 février 2009
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Description du produit
Présentation de l'éditeur
The New York Times bestseller, now with a new introduction! The Breaks of the Game focuses on one grim season (1979-80) in the life of the Bill Walton-led Portland Trail Blazers, a team that only three years before had been NBA champions.
The tactile authenticity of Halberstam's knowledge of the basketball world is unrivaled. Yet he is writing here about far more than just basketball. This is a story about a place in our society where power, money, and talent collide and sometimes corrupt, a place where both national obsessions and naked greed are exposed. It's about the influence of big media, the fans and the hype they subsist on, the clash of ethics, the terrible physical demands of modern sports (from drugs to body size), the unreal salaries, the conflicts of race and class, and the consequences of sport converted into mass entertainment and athletes transformed into superstars--all presented in a way that puts the reader in the room and on the court, and The Breaks of the Game in a league of its own.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Mr. Halberstam won a pulitzer prize for his reporting on the Vietnam War for the New York Times. He has written extensively on the Civil Rights movement and on a variety of aspects about the second half of the 20th century. Mr. Halberstam has the rare ability to fill his pages with well researched information and still have his writing be light and easy to read.
This 450+ page book is ostensibly about the 1979-80 Portland Trailblazers (it was notably Magic Johnson and Larry Bird's rookie year), yet it covers a number of players and coaches from the previous 20 years in depth. It spends a decent amount of time covering Portland's magical 1977 title run and the ephemeral wizardry of Bill Walton. The red-headed center had signed with San Diego before the 79-80 season, but Halberstam covered his progress that season as well. This book contains several 20 minute stories of a variety of individuals, including the owner, GM, coach, assistant coach, stars, role players, cast-offs, hold-outs, rookies and opposing players. The story of Kermit Washington (and Pete Newell) is handled with particular skill.
Halberstam also weaves in his strong understanding of economics, race, the effects of television, and American politics to paint a complete illustration about the state of basketball in 1980. Again, I can't stress enough the absolute mastery of writing that the author possesses. While I refuse to say it is the greatest sports book every written, I am fine with acknowledging that it should be in every conversation.
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)
Blazers head coach Jack Ramsay is considered one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA and was later inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he had his work cut out for him in the seasons following the 1977 championship in trying to lead a declining team. Injuries, player selfishness due to no-cut contracts, salary complaints, team chemistry problems, and the diminishment of the power a coach had in regard to his team all made their presence felt in Portland in the late Seventies.
Halberstam profiles Ramsay and the important players on the 1979-80 Portland squad in the course of the book, as well as some of the other key figures in the league such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Red Auerbach. Bill Walton meant as much as anyone to the '77 team, and the author recalls how injuries and other struggles led to his falling out with the franchise and departure to San Diego in 1979.
The author looks at many issues, some topical and others timeless, that were affecting the NBA in the late Seventies such as race, team chemistry, the business side of pro basketball, drugs, trade and contract rumors, important but unsung players, television and television advertising, and the relationship of college basketball to the pro game. Halberstam describes how the league was in trouble when he wrote, to the extent that the Finals that year between the Lakers and 76ers were tape-delayed, but later in the 1980s the league enjoyed a boom in popularity that finally gained it a wide, enthusiastic following across the country.
Longtime followers of the league will note that the problems of NBA overexpansion and the wave of similar, cookie-cutter arenas that Halberstam decried in "Breaks" repeated themselves in the late Eighties and early Nineties. Another constant of the NBA across the decades that Halberstam broaches which overexpansion has just made worse has been that of the top half-dozen or so teams being highly watchable and the bottom half of the league distinctly uninteresting, save for a period in the mid-to-late Eighties when about two-thirds of the teams were compelling.
Through Halberstam's description of the ups and downs of an 82-game regular season and one-miniseries-and-done playoff run of a declined team like the 1979-80 Trail Blazers, basketball fans get a more realistic picture of what NBA life is like for most teams than they do by reading one of the many books written about teams that won titles. The forward by Bill Simmons rightly notes that this is one of the best basketball books ever, and "The Breaks of the Game" is one of the premier case studies of how precarious success is for pro basketball teams and how quickly franchises can fall.
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