Halberstam, David. The Breaks of the Game. New York: Hyperion, 2009.
Reason read: March Madness is well, in March. Everyone has heard of March Madness before. Read in honor of college hoops time.
This is an interesting topic for a book. Halberstam follows the 1979-1980 sad season of Portland, Oregon’s basketball team, the Trailblazers. Not their winning year. Interestingly enough, they had won the championship the year before. They bombed the year after. Maybe that’s what Halberstam found so interesting. After Bill Walton left the team they simply imploded. Halberstam could have called his book The Wreckage Walton Left Behind.
According to Breaks of the Game between 1970 and 1979 the Portland Trailblazers won 322 games and lost 416 and yet their fan attendance went from a paltry 1,095 to a cap of 11,500 by 1979. The One to Watch was Bill Walton, a first round draft choice. After he joined the team season ticket holders jumped from 2,971 to 6,218.
True to Halberstam form, Breaks of the Game looks at every angle of the sport of basketball from the coaches to the players, from the referees to the sponsors, from the owners to the fans and everyone in between. If you like basketball, this is the book for you. If you love the Portland Trailblazers no matter their record, this is a must read.
As an aside, I have seen Dead concerts “with” Bill Walton. He and I are huge fans. He’s often in the front row (or close to it) while I’m in the nosebleed seats.
Author fact: I probably mentioned this before but Halberstam was tragically killed in an auto accident on his way to an interview. I still can’t get over that.
Book trivia: Breaks of the Game contains no photographs whatsoever (not even of Bill Walton) & is not indexed.
Nancy said: Nancy connects Breaks in the Game with another sports book, The Punch, since Kermit Washington was traded to the Portland Trailblazers following the infamous punch (p 226).
BookLust Twist: from both Book Lust and More Book Lust. From Book Lust in the obvious chapter called “Sports and Games” (p 225) and from More Book Lust in the even more obvious chapter called “David Halberstam: Too Good To Miss” (p 112).