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David Halberstam
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Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordon and the World He Made

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,654 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Over the course of an extraordinary writing career, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian David Halberstam has covered events and personalities that define significant moments in American history. In his latest book, Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made, Halberstam turns his insightful eye to not only the greates
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Published June 1st 1999 by Recorded Books (first published 1999)
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Jun 20, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, biography
I read this book when it came out. As I watched the Cavaliers win the NBA title last night, I thought how I really haven't followed basketball since Michael Jordan retired. Spoiled being able to watch all the Bulls games on television, I saw electrifying plays night after night. Halberstam allows even casual fans insights into Jordan and the Bulls circus. Looking back now that the game has reached global proportions, Halberstam really meant it when he said Michael Jordan transformed the world. K ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
David Halberstam can do no wrong. A wonderful look at the modern NBA and how the intersection of money, marketing, entertainment and sport created a climate where Jordan could become the most famous person in the world. The reporting and storytelling is excellent, but it lacks something that Breaks of the Game had. Breaks felt like (because he was) Halberstam was there. There was a real connection to the players, coaches, and everyone involved. Playing for Keeps, like the modern NBA, is more ste ...more
Jan 04, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Halberstam is to writing sports books the way Robert Caro is to biographies. He was just so much better at it that it almost doesn't seem fair when others attempt it. While Playing for Keeps is not quite as strong as The Breaks of the Game, it's still great. What makes Halberstam's work so good is that he doesn't just profile one subject--Michael Jordan--rather he presents a story of the late 1980s and 1990s NBA. This includes whole chapters that are about the rise of Nike, David Falk, the ...more
Mar 20, 2007 janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basketball fanatics
This book is very dense and detailed, probably geared toward basketball fanatics and Jordan-o-philes rather than the casual b-ball watcher like myself. But it does a great job describing the history of the modern NBA and, of course, the role Michael Jordan played in shaping it. I looked up MJ's old Nike ads on YouTube after reading this.

Halberstam describes in-depth every person who possibly had an impact on Jordan. Although Halberstam sometimes goes on too much about peripheral characters, I a
Mar 20, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was written before Michael Jordan announced his retirement in 1999. Halberstam is a great writer, though I think this book could have been edited down about 10%. It's not just about Jordan, but about how he changed the NBA and how "sports" changed to "sports entertainment" during his years in it. Key components of this change are the rise of ESPN and the marketing connections of the players. I felt I got to know Jordan a bit better (even as a Chicagoan I had heard much of this before), ...more
Vitalijus Sostak
Jan 20, 2016 Vitalijus Sostak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a basketball fan in any way (in fact, not a sports guy at all), but reading about Michael Jeffrey Jordan achievements one cannot help but to be impressed.
This book is a goldmine for basketball aficionados - so many details about players, coaches, games, drafts, training regimes etc. that it sometimes was too much for a layman to grasp and appreciate. Otherwise, it's a beautiful Jordan's biography that mainly focuses on his NBA years.

Intense, motivating reading.

"He was a great player with
Jul 15, 2013 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more than just a book on Michael Jordan. As a relatively new fan of the NBA (started following in 2000 when I met my husband), I really enjoyed all the information about former players and to see how the league has changed over the past 30 years, most notably, the contract amounts and lengths which were small and long (even MJ's) compared to today's players.
I knew Jordan was competitive, but I didn't really know just how much until I read this book. There are a few players out there toda
Theo Johnson
May 21, 2015 Theo Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playing for Keeps is an autobiography about the life of NBA legend Michael Jordan. The book covers the span of Jordan's basketball career, starting from high school and ending after his 6th championship. The book also has excerpts about opponent players and teams Jordan faced. David Halberstam wrote this book for many reasons: sharing Jordan's life and how he affected the world but also sharing a story of dedication and overcoming odds. The book is written in a very formal way, not showing much ...more
Thomas Rush
Mar 01, 2015 Thomas Rush rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a writer first puts his pen to paper, there are a number of things that are being sought. More than anything else, a writer wrestles with how to take something as complex as reality and reduce it into little, black, written letters printed on paper. The writer wants to do this in such a way that the reader, when it is taken in, will use mental powers of the imagination, filter it, and then represent it within so that the original reality comes back alive. In this book, Halberstam has done j ...more
James P
Playing for keeps is a well-described biography on Michael Jordan. It shows who he influenced during his career and also the people who influenced him. In his early childhood, he grew up with strict rules, except for one: basketball. His parents never made him practice or play, but his love for the game drove him to get better. He had an older brother, who beat Michael most of the time they played. He ended up improving and going to North Carolina, where he learned life lessons from Dean Smith. ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Randy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think I’ve read a sports bio since high school. But, having finished Halberstam’s book on The Fifties I decided to try another one and the Michael Jordan book was handy. Halberstam is a master writer/story teller and a superb journalist. He gets to the bottom of the story and in an objective way. He makes no editorial comments about Jordan and his amazing career, a career that made him one of the two or three most famous people in the world.

I really like the way Halberstam provides mini
Jabril Lawson
My book is “Play for keeps:Michael Jordan and the world he made.”The genre of my book is sports as you would see.The topic of my book was Michael Jordan's Basketball life from 1979-1909’s.Him transforming to different stages of his basketball career from Laney high school to North Carolina University to the Chicago Bulls.Also,how Michael Jordan actions reflecting the people around him.The main idea of the book is Michael Jordan was an amazing basketball player and great respectful and competitiv ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Hamza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a hero that never gave up and did the best he could. " I can accept failure everything fails, but I cant accept not trying." Micheal Jordan was a person that failed by missing 9000 shots, lost 300 games, 26 times trusted to take, which means he failed again and again and that is why he succeeds. He left high school in junior because he is so good at basketball. He never gave up as a player. Micheal Jordan will be a person that thought me and everyone else which is that failur ...more
Frank Bell

Playing for keeps by David Halberstam is about an athlete who exhausted his copy of superlatives, a magician whose sleight of hand never failed to amaze in a profession measured by harsh, unforgiving statistics. Michael Jordan was compared to Michael Angelo, and Picasso and hailed as miracle and superman. In an age of celebrity and hyperbole, he remained one of those rare performers whose achievements matched the hype. Michael took Bill Russell definition of sports, a mixture of art and war to
Hasan Harrington
Playing for Keeps:Michael Jordan and The World he Made by David Halberstam is a nonfiction sports novel about how Michael Jordan as a kid and growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina was cut from his High School team and made it to the NBA. He grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Wilmington NC and was very Athletic. he played baseball, soccer, football, and of course basketball. Michael has went through his ups and downs with sports and other things in this book because this is about him and hi ...more
May 15, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a scene in this book that is more vivid in my memory than it stands on the page. Roy Williams, then an assistant at UNC, can tell Jordan is dogging it during a practice. He calls Jordan out on his lack of effort. Jordan responds something to the effect, why should I have to work harder if I am already better than everyone else out on the floor. Williams, who Jordan previously told in confidence that he wanted to be the best of all time, said that in order to meet that goal, be the best, ...more
Logan Williams
Jan 13, 2015 Logan Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while now. I am a HUGE Michael Jordan fan. I am aware of this author and I knew it was a quality book because my dad read it before me. Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made, is a book about MJ’s career as a whole. From North Carolina, to the 84 draft, to dunk contests, all star games and championships. I enjoyed learning about the struggle he went through to become the greatest basketball player the world will ever see. I would recommen ...more
May 03, 2011 Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether he is writing about the quagmire of Vietnam, Balkan peacekeeping, Olympic rowers or Michael Jordan, David Halberstam is great.
Ivan Zullo
Nov 19, 2015 Ivan Zullo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like being back in the stands and watching the all-time greatest basketball player. David Halberstam succeed in making the readers part of that world.
Not a celebration, not a promotion. This book has an edge, probably the same edge that is accountable for MJ success.
So hard to write a book about such a game changer without falling into the traps of old clichè and easy catchphrases. Halberstam succeeded and gave you a very peculiar perspective of, using his on words, Michael Jordan and the world
3Lane J
Apr 07, 2016 3Lane J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Jordan was one of the most underrated high school and college basketball players that has ever played. Almost no one knew about him except people in the Carolina area which made him very unnoticeable. When he went to basketball camps, many coaches were caught saying; "who's that?"(59) and "he is going to be a star at the next level"(59) Michael Jordan was under the radar until he started showcasing his talent all around but impressing Roy Williams the most (NC head coach). Almost immedia ...more
Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made, by David Halberstam, is a book that I have grown to really appreciate. The reason for this is because of the depth at which Halberstam takes the reader into Michael Jordan's world.
“Jordan was the most gifted athlete in the league, but unlike most other supremly gifted players, he had an additional quality rare among superb artists whose chosen work comes so easily: He was an overachiever as well.” In essence, Jordan was able to elevate hi
Jan 19, 2015 Randall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I usually don't enjoy reading especially when it's a big book but this book I liked.I couldn't put this book down.In the book it talked about how Micheal Jordan was able to change the world on the court and off the court.It also shows how he became the owner for the Charlotte Bobcats (Now known as the Charlotte Hornets).After you read this book if you don't like Micheal Jordan than something is wrong with you.I recommend this book to people who like basketball.Also people who like sports in gene ...more
Mayur Patel
Dec 04, 2014 Mayur Patel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book "Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made" by David Halberstam,is a very historical and cool book to read because the topic that is mainly talked about is from the past making it historical and learning about it makes it cool. As you can tell from the title the book is about Michael Jordan. However, it also has to do with the people that Michael Jordan was coached by, players against him, and the players who played with him. The book highlights his spectacular career in t ...more
William Johnson
This was reprinted from my website, Secure Immaturity. Please check it out and comment.

Although I consider David Halberstam (may he rest in peace) one of my all-time favorite authors, I never actually finished one of his books. I read hundreds upon hundreds of pages in his books, for sure, but I never finished them: not because they aren’t good but because, well, his depth of knowledge, his skilled writing, and his deep analysis of both history and current affairs made me selfish. Not only would
Steve Kettmann
May 02, 2010 Steve Kettmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My S.F. Chronicle review from 1999:

It's going to be a tough year for anyone who loves basketball. Faced with the painful absence from the scene of Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever, it's hard to imagine anyone working up anything like the breathless enthusiasm of Cameron Diaz squealing, ``Let's go watch `SportsCenter!' '' in ``There's Something About Mary.''
Who cares? Who wants to see the latest highlights? It all seems so flat, so coarse. The NBA has become a banal spectacle in which st
May 09, 2013 123tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the fall of 1997, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, once of Wilmington, North Carolina, and now of Chicago, Illinois, arrived in Paris, France, with his team, the Chicago Bulls, to play a preseason tournament run by McDonald's, one of his principal corporate sponsors, as well as a very important corporate sponsor of the National Basketball Association. Even though it featured some of the better European teams, the tournament was not, in terms of the level of play, likely to be competitive for a top NBA ...more
Shawn Liu
Apr 18, 2011 Shawn Liu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone but especially basketball lovers
Shelves: basketball
Simply put, this is the single best piece of writing I have found on the man/legend known as Michael Jordan. David Halberstam brings his journalist's clarity and trenchant, but non-judgmental psychological observations to bear in telling MJ's story all the way from Laney High School through his sixth championship in 1998.

The book layers in different aspects of Jordan's history but the major focus is on the character traits and personality that drove Jordan to be so good at basketball. One of the
Jim Kristofic
Mar 27, 2011 Jim Kristofic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves basketball or sports journalism in general
Recommended to Jim by: Found it on the $1 rack at my local used book store
If you grew up in a mythic time when you could turn on the television and watch the Almighty St. Michael Jordan work his magic, then you'll like this book. A lot.

Halberstam uses in-depth interviews and sharp narrative techniques to sketch the key players from their developing moments as players to their rise to tenuous stardom. We see images of Phil Jackson as a high school phenom whose arms were so long that he could sit in the middle of the back seat of a car, reach out his long arms, and ope
Jun 06, 2012 Mighty_k24 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In't kort: een uitgebreide biografie van Michael Jordan, 's werelds beste basketballer en waarschijnlijk bekendste sportman.

Mijn oordeel: in twee aparte chronologieën krijgen we een beeld van hoe Jordan tot een wereldsporticoon geworden is. We volgen zijn laatste seizoen bij de Bulls (1997-98) van naderbij, met daartussen flashbacks over zijn verleden (high school, college, beginjaren in de NBA, eerste grote successen, zijn baseballuitstap en zijn terugkeer via de grote poort).

Daarnaast krijgen
Oct 04, 2010 BJ added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Chapter 1: Jordan is in Paris in October, 1997. How global MJ was and how he made the NBA a huge marketing monster. How much Dick Ebersol of NBC and David Stern got along. A discussion of MJ of his place in basketball, marketing, and culturally. Incredible how MJ became the greatest player of all time, especially under such spotlight and microscope. Quick recap of his incredible accomplishments including his flu game in Game 4 of the '97 Finals.

Chapter 2: Quick background of MJ and his childhood
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David Halberstam (April 10, 1934–April 23, 2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author known for his early work on the Vietnam War and his later sports journalism.

Halberstam graduated from Harvard University with a degree in journalism in 1955 and started his career writing for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing for
More about David Halberstam...

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