The Breaks of the Game focuses on one grim season (1979–80) in the life of the Bill Walton–led Portland Trail Blazers, a team that only three years before had been NBA champions.
As Halberstam follows this collection of men through the months, through the losing streaks and occasional victories, the endless trips and the brutal schedules, we come to know them and their world--the other players, coaches, and owners; the competition, drafts, trades, and traditions; the wives, the fans, the media connections--a world of grand dreams, impossible expectations, and bracing realities.
The tactile authenticity of Halberstam's knowledge of the basketball world is unrivaled. Yet he is writing here about far more than just basketball. This is a story about a place in our society where power, money, and talent collide and sometimes corrupt, a place where both national obsessions and naked greed are exposed. It's about the influence of big media, the fans and the hype they subsist on, the clash of ethics, the terrible physical demands of modern sports (from drugs to body size), the unreal salaries, the conflicts of race and class, and the consequences of sport converted into mass entertainment and athletes transformed into superstars--all presented in a way that puts the reader in the room and on the court, and The Breaks of the Game in a league of its own.