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Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made
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Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  2,802 ratings  ·  94 reviews
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 grea ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Three Rivers Press (first published 1999)
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Adam
Mar 01, 2011 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
janet
Mar 20, 2007 janet rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Donna
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
Thomas D.
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
Randy
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
...more
Hamza
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
Logan Williams
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
Riley
Whether he is writing about the quagmire of Vietnam, Balkan peacekeeping, Olympic rowers or Michael Jordan, David Halberstam is great.
Dev
Depicts the beginning of the modern era in huge salaries and shoe contracts. Not much to enliven rather dry prose.
Christopher
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
...more
Randall
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
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
...more
Steve Kettmann
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
...more
123tyler
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 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Jim Kristofic
Mar 27, 2011 Jim Kristofic rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Mighty_k24
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
...more
BJ
Oct 04, 2010 BJ added it
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
...more
Chris Lawnsby
Absolutely comprehensive (except for the fact that Jordan did a lot of shit after the book was published.)

Very interesting throughout. I wouldn't recommend Halberstam's "Education of a Coach" to someone uninterested in Bill Belichick. I would, however, recommend "Playing for Keeps" to someone not particularly interested in Michael Jordan.

This book touches on a number of topics that transcend sport (public perception of black athletes, shoe contracts, competitive drive etc.) Nevertheless, those
...more
Joe Keene
Great book on Michael Jordan. Book has a great flow to it and chronicles Jordan's life and career. While not a true biography of Michael, the book deals with Jordan the person, his gambling, his competitiveness, and his relationship with his teammates. A fairly quick read and a must for any sports fan.
Amanda
Really fascinating read about a time I actually remember and can relate to. Great story about the intersection of fame, sports and individual achievement
Adam
Feb 14, 2015 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sports
It's Halberstam, guy knows how to tell a story. Made me appreciate how lucky I was to witness Jordan's career.
Kevin
As good as The Breaks of the Game in the parts that describe the state of the NBA circa 1999 and in explaining how the timing was perfect for Jordan to become a global superstar. Not as good as The Breaks of the Game in that the Jordan parts are written at a great distance from Jordan. Part of this is the nature of biography and describing past events for which the author was not present, but much of it is due to Halberstam's not getting any interviews with Jordan himself, a reflection of how mu ...more
Steve M.
Not quite a classic like Breaks of the Game, but very good on Michael Jordan/late 90s NBA.
Toni
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
...more
Michael
Wide-ranging, but again suffers from "old man good ol' days" syndrome.
Dante
Jun 20, 2008 Dante rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Chicago Bulls fans or basketball fans in general
Any book about Michael Jordan will struggle for material which hasn't been covered and analyzed exhaustively, and Halberstam's is no different. Nevertheless, this is probably the best overview of Michael Jordan's career (excluding his Washington Wizards years, which took place after this book was published). Given Halberstam's historian's take on things, this book is best in describing how Jordan influenced (and was influenced by) the cultural and business trends of the times. I'd highly recomme ...more
Mariana Santillan
Playing for keeps is by far a great book. I love how it describes Michael Jordan life as the game's greatest player. I liked this book because i love basketball and Michael is one of my favorite basketball players . It's nice to learn more about Michale's personal life and how Michael became a great player . The first thing that caught my attention reading this book was learning how Michael became successful and a great basketball player. This book would be a great book for anyone that enjoys ba ...more
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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
More about David Halberstam...
The Best and the Brightest The Breaks of the Game Summer of '49 The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

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