Playing for Keeps

Halberstam, David. Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. New York: Random House, 1999.

There is no doubt in my mind that David Halberstam loved basketball. He may have even loved Michael Jordan even more. The care and consideration he gave both to the sport and to the athlete is exemplary. To be sure, you will also get biographies of the key people surrounding Michael Jordan’s personal life and career path as well. From mama to coaches, from friends to agents, Halberstam details each and everyone one of them. You will learn about Michael Jordan, the driven kid; Michael Jordan, the aggressive ballplayer; Michael Jordan, the savvy salesman and everything else he was in between.
My only complaint – the chronology is a bit disorganized. Because the timeline is interrupted by different basketball games throughout out Jordan’s career Halberstam’s timeline isn’t constructed in such a way that a reader could witness Michael Jordan’s rise to success smoothly. The games lend a certain drama to the biography but the timeline suffers for it.

Reason read: March is the month for Madness; college basketball madness, that is. Only I started reading this early because a friend loaned it to me.

Time for some honesty. I have a pet peeve when it comes to professional athletes and their retirements. The media goes into a frenzy. The bigger the star, the bigger the segment on ESPN. Reporters clamor for a “last” interview. Researchers comb the archives looking for footage of so-and-so’s rookie year. Childhood friends are contacted and the athlete’s mama is always asked to reminisce about the first she noticed star quality and athletic potential. The story will break for days and days and be seen on every channel several times over. It’s as if the retiring athlete hasn’t given up the sport. Instead it’s as if he or she has given up the ghost and died. That is, Until they start playing again. It’s the in and out of retirement I can’t stand. Michael Jordan was one such athlete. He retired more than once and each time the media gave him a send off fit for kings. And not the Sacramento kind.

Book trivia: Playing for Keeps boasts a lot of really cool photos.

Author fact: Halberstam has written on a myriad of subjects. Basketball only scratched the surface of the topics he covered.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “David Halberstam: Too Good To Miss” (p 113).



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