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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller, David Halberstam's 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.

More than six years after his death David Halberstam remains one of this country's most respected journalists and revered authorities on American life and history in the years since WWII. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his groundbreaking reporting on the Vietnam War, Halberstam wrote more than 20 books, almost all of them best sellers. His work has stood the test of time and has become the standard by which all journalists measure themselves.

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 listener in the room and on the court, and The Breaks of the Game in a league of its own.

©2012 David Halberstam (P)2016 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about The Breaks of the Game

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    5 out of 5 stars

This book is a must read for all NBA junkies.

This book is a must read for NBA junkies. This covers an in-depth look of the Portland Trail Blazers from 1977-1980. Led by Bill Walton, the '77 Blazers thrilled many basketball purists with their unselfish style of play. Following the '77 season, injuries and chemistry problems led to decline of the team and their unsuccessful pursuit of a potential dynasty.

More importantly, the story also tackles many topics such as race, racism, contract disputes, loyalty, television advertising, team chemistry, team politics, Bill Walton, corruption in college basketball (this is in the 70s which is crazy!), college vs. pros, the Blazers making one of the WORST trade of all time by trading Moses Malone to the Houston Rockets for a bag of chips, a player by the name of Marvin Barnes who could've been the GOAT but ruined his career by doing drugs and many more.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ed
  • 03-11-16

Truly one of the all time great sports books

The fact that Halberstam, a world renown American historian, put as much effort into chronicling an era of the NBA as he did with wars and presidential administrations makes this a must read for any sports fan, even if basketball isn't your thing.

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful, a must for any NBA fan.

This is a wonderful book and is beautifully narrated. If your a Blazer fan or general NBA fan you have to read/listen to this book, it will give you a greater appreciation and understanding of the people that make up the greatest league in professional sports.

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Hasn't Held Up

Way back in the dark ages (the early eighties) I read and enjoyed this book, and though I had my reservations about how well it would hold up to time I decided to get it on Audible. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam and set in particular, during the 1979-80 NBA season it really doesn't hold up well. It now seems quaint and out of touch, as if it were a relic from another century; oh wait, it is from another century. There are jarring differences from the NBA of today that clang like a Shaquille O'Neal or DeAndre Jordan free throw. When the author speaks of huge contracts for 300,000 or 400,000 dollars a year, it feels particularly incongruous in that the the league rookie minimum is now 525,000 a year. Another is that the players sound astonishingly naive, and disconnected when they bitch and complain about unfairness in regards to their salaries. From what the book says the players were still buying the concept of professional sports as a game rather than as a business. The print media was still king in those days and trumpeted the concept and the fans generally bought into it. The players are constantly complaining about race and equality; seemingly expecting loyalty and fair play to be forthcoming from management and ownership. Today all parties are aware that pro sports is a business; nothing more, nothing less. A concept that ownership and management has always grasped.
Though I enjoyed hearing names that defined my experience of the league, overall the overly detailed biographies and descriptions of players, coaches, owners and sportswriters along with the author's intense focus on race combined with the passage the time caused me to give up on this book a few hours before the end.

1 person found this helpful

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Can’t recommend this book enough

Fantastic… this is what journalism looks like, for those of us who seem to have forgotten these days

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Loved it!

Brought back so many memories of that era and watching these players as a young fan. Really enjoyed both the story and the excellent narration.

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  • vn
  • 11-28-21

Great!

A classic from David halberstam. Takes you back to the days of the early NBA what a great read!

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Early NBA Lore

Loved the book, especially the parts about Walton and the San Diego Clippers. I was first introduced to basketball in San Diego in late 1978 as a first grader. Was obsessed with the sport especially the high scores and the even taller players. Brought back excellent memories of my early years of fandom.

The writing was excellent and the back story on the players and the league was phenomenal.

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Fascinating Book

Great book - lots of details and side stories.

Great insight on race relations which makes it applicable for now.

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DATED

Good book but dated. It's not like a true history. I know that this is sacrilegious to say about David Halberstam, but I just listened to Bill Walton's own book that he wrote and read for Audible, and it seemed more accurate and MUCH less dated than this, in both style and general content. Yes, I KNOW it's history, but there are different ways to read and write about history, right?

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