Tip-off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever

Filip Bondy, Author . Da Capo $25 (281p) ISBN 978-0306814860

It's not the worst mistake in sports history, but it's among the most famous—with the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers selected Sam Bowie instead of several future stars, including Michael Jordan. In this tremendously readable book, Bondy tells the full story of that draft, which most experts consider the best ever. Bondy follows six draftees—Bowie, Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Sam Perkins and John Stockton. With commentary from scouts, general managers, coaches and the players themselves, Bondy draws a portrait of each player from just before the draft to the present day. Bondy perfectly synthesizes exactly why each player landed where he did, examining prevailing draft philosophies, recent roster blunders and the possibility that teams lost on purpose. While not as revelatory as Michael Lewis's Moneyball (Bondy's post mortem of Portland's mistake focuses on familiar themes, particularly the fetishism of height), this book is every bit as enjoyable as the baseball bestseller. Bondy delves deeper into the character of Bowie than anyone has before, revealing a likable man with terrible luck, and gives the reader a sense of how profoundly Jordan, Barkley and Olajuwon reshaped the league. It may not be transcendent enough to breakthrough with nonbasketball fans, but anybody with a cursory interest in the game is in for a treat. (May)

Reviewed on: 12/31/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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