Summary and book reviews of Playing For Keeps by David Halberstam

Playing For Keeps

Michael Jordan and The World He Made

by David Halberstam

Playing For Keeps by David Halberstam X
Playing For Keeps by David Halberstam
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 1999, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2000, 255 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A narrative of astonishing power and human drama, brimming with revealing anecdotes and penetrating insights

In Playing for Keeps, David Halberstam takes the first full measure of Michael Jordan's epic career, one of the great American stories of our time. A narrative of astonishing power and human drama, brimming with revealing anecdotes and penetrating insights, the book chronicles the forces in Jordan's life that have shaped him into history's greatest basketball player, and the larger forces that have converged to make him the most famous living human being in the world.

From The Breaks of the Game to Summer of '49, David Halberstam has brought the perspective of a great historian, the inside knowledge of a dogged sportswriter, and the love of a fan to bear on some of the most mythic players and teams in the annals of American sport. With Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls he has given himself his greatest challenge, and produced his greatest triumph. The book is rich with Halberstam's professional signature: incisive, carefully woven human portraits of the major figures. We see the various players and teams the Bulls must overcome on their long, hard journey to six world championships, including Larry Bird and the Celtics, Isiah Thomas and the Pistons, and Magic Johnson and the Lakers. We get a rare insider's view of the dynamics between Jordan, the star, and the others who played critical roles in the championship seasons, including the shrewd, thoughtful Phil Jackson, the enigmatic Scottie Pippen, and the curiously shy Dennis Rodman. In addition, we see the bitter divisions between players and management on the Bulls, and the NBA's interior pressures and conflicts as basketball grows during Jordan's reign into a phenomenally successful big-time celebrity sport. This book is, as well, about fame in America, the forces that create it and its consequences. Among other things, we see how David Falk and Nike launched the campaign that sold Jordan to the world, abetted by a small Oregon ad agency, Wieden and Kennedy, and a struggling young Brooklyn filmmaker named Spike Lee.
        
The product of tireless on-the-ground reporting suffused with the wisdom and imagination of one of our greatest writers, Playing for Keeps is a book that, in defining Michael Jordan, also helps to define America in the Jordan Era.

"David Halberstam has written a remarkable book about the changes in American society over the last twenty-five years. On one level, it is about basketball and the game's greatest player, Michael Jordan. On another level, it is about how an entertainment culture envelops Jordan and makes him its own. But on its deepest level, it is a story about working to overcome the odds, honoring parents and family, and striving to become a positive social force. This book is a must read for basketball fans, admirers of Jordan, and anyone who seeks to understand sports in America today." --Bill Bradley

Excerpt
Playing For Keeps

In the fourteen years that Michael Jordan played in the NBA, no one other than a handful of players benefited more from the league's rising affluence and the shift in power from owners to players than David Falk. A relatively junior sports agent in the beginning of the era, Falk was by 1998 not merely the most affluent agent ever to represent basketball players but one of the two or three most influential men in the sport of basketball, a man whose power was said to rival that of David Stern himself. If the legal, economic, and technological changes that took place in the eighties and nineties had been good for players, they were arguably even better for agents. Since he first surfaced as an agent, he had split twice with partners: Early on, even before he was part of Jordan's team, he and Donald Dell split from Frank Craighill and Lee Fentress, and eventually he split off from Dell in what was considered a rather bitter professional divorce. In 1998...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

People Magazine
[A] thoughtful and fascinating study of Jordan's far-reaching impact on American culture, compiled by one of the most doggedly analytical authors around.

Entertainment Weekly
[S]olid and compelling....zeroes in on Jordan's defining moments, on court and off....the whole book takes shape as a paradoxical parable.

Publisher's Weekly
Halberstam has written an excellent book about the game of basketball and its greatest player.

Kirkus Reviews
As astute and objective an examination as we're likely to get of the rise and professional career of basketball and media superstar Michael Jordan.... a transcendent sports biography.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by David Halberstam

If you liked Playing For Keeps, try these:

  • Joe DiMaggio jacket

    Joe DiMaggio

    by Richard Ben Cramer

    Published 2001

    About this book

    In Cramer's hands, DiMaggio's complicated life becomes the story of America's media machine, the invention of a national celebrity in America, and the ways in which fame can both build and destroy.

  • When Pride Still Mattered jacket

    When Pride Still Mattered

    by David Maraniss

    Published 2000

    About this book

    More books by this author

    How Vince Lombardi rose to the top, and how his character and will to prevail transformed him, his wife, his children, his players, his sport, and ultimately the entire country.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: All the Devils Are Here
    All the Devils Are Here
    by Louise Penny
    In Louise Penny's All the Devils Are Here, the 16th book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: A Girl is A Body of Water
    A Girl is A Body of Water
    by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
    First Impressions readers were fascinated by A Girl Is a Body of Water, a riveting and nuanced novel...
  • Book Jacket
    Heaven, My Home
    by Attica Locke
    Attica Locke's 2017 novel Bluebird, Bluebird introduced us to Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, who ...
  • Book Jacket: Transcendent Kingdom
    Transcendent Kingdom
    by Yaa Gyasi
    Yaa Gyasi's (pronounced "yah jessie") Transcendent Kingdom is, among other things, a meditation on ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke

    A new novel from the NY Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste

An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.