Jena Henry's Reviews > The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

The City Game by Matthew Goodman
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I am a basketball fan, thriving on high school, college, and NBA action. I’m drawn to the speed, incredible skill and chess-like maneuvering of the game. I couldn’t wait to read this book and I found it just as thrilling as any NBA playoff game. Author Matthew Goodman’s book promised a story of “Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team” and it delivered.

When I tell you I’m from Cleveland, you will understand how I could relate to this book. Cleveland- sports proud and blessed with fans who root for their home team, “this year will be the year.” Except it never was the year for a Cleveland championship, until 2016, when the stars aligned and one star in particular, LeBron James, led Cleveland to an historic NBA championship. Sounds like the plot of The City Game, so let’s tip-off and see how the book plays out.

The cover of this book shows a scene from Madison Square Gardens and that’s where most of the hoops action in this book takes place. City College of New York played most of its basketball games there. City College was a beacon of hope for its students- who were mostly poor and from proud immigrant families. Their dreams and hope for the future made City College a vibrant place. The City College basketball team is the focus of this story, and the basketball season of 1949-1950 was the miracle year for the Jewish and African American players. It was a time of segregation, yet this team achieved the pinnacle of success, not once, but twice that year. They were heroes, at the top, then it all crashed down.

Author Goodman’s book is filled with research and facts that bring the players, their families, teachers and coaches, and the times to life. In a parallel story, we also learn of the scandals and corruption in the police and political world of New York City and how illegal gambling poisoned the times. This book is written in the “creative fiction” style, so while it is dense and factual, the story reads like a thriller. You will feel like you are living in the New York of 1950 and experiencing the sights, food, and energy of this melting pot city. You will also enjoy your “seat” in Madison Square Gardens as you root for the City College Beavers.

Who were to blame- the players, the coaches, Madison Square Gardens, New York City, the system? This is a good book to read, and to discuss. Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for a digital review copy. This is my honest review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 1, 2019 – Shelved

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