Not definitive, but a readable companion to the more insightful Collision Low-Crossers (2013), by Nicholas Dawidoff, as a...

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THE INSIDE STORY OF TOM BRADY'S FIGHT FOR REDEMPTION

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s battle against the NFL in the shadow of scandal.

If you’re a fan of the Patriots, you likely believe there’s nothing to Deflategate, the investigation that resulted when opposing teams charged that Brady had an unfair edge with an underinflated ball during the 2015 AFC championship game. If you don’t like the Pats, you’ll likely endorse the charge. Sherman and Wedge, who teamed up on Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy (2015), write that they “were committed to write this book fairly and accurately,” but their account isn’t likely to settle the matter in the minds of fans, even if it was adjudicated and analyzed meticulously. Though the charges came mostly from the hated Indianapolis Colts, they were taken seriously enough that the league suspended Brady for four games—even though, Sherman and Wedge write, “the proper inflation of a football had never been an issue in the long history of the NFL, as teams and quarterbacks often deflated or overinflated balls for personal preference,” and with no statistically significant effect on outcome. Given Brady’s championship record and the blotch the affair put on it, it’s small wonder that Deflategate became an important matter for top management and a phalanx of lawyers. The authors give Brady plenty of room for vindication with their extended, almost play-by-play account of Super Bowl LI, with all its sportswriterly conventions: “Dwight Freeney, a veteran defensive end who won a title with the Colts ten years earlier, had haunted Brady for years….Now [he] was lined up on the opposite side of the ball wearing a Falcons helmet.” Brady proved himself worthy that day, but a bitter denouement came the following year when, after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, he conceded, “I mean losing sucks…you show up and you try to win and sometimes you lose and that’s the way it goes.”

Not definitive, but a readable companion to the more insightful Collision Low-Crossers (2013), by Nicholas Dawidoff, as a behind-the-scenes look at the NFL.

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41638-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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