From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-Day NBA

Pete Croatto. Atria, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0395-8
Croatto, a sports and culture writer and reviewer for PW, debuts with a stellar reconstruction of how the NBA transformed from a struggling league into the multibillion-dollar behemoth it is today. It may be hard to believe, given the contemporary prominence and wealth of the NBA, but 40 years ago, the sports organization was on hard times, an era Croatto calls the league’s “interminable and frequently painful puberty,” which was hampered in part by the discomfort felt by white Americans at rosters “dominated by black men.” Finances were so bad that even the storied Boston Celtics contemplated a move to Long island, and one All-Star Game reception was “held in the Suns’ team doctor’s backyard.” The rebound was the product of innovative commissioners Larry O’Brien (named in 1975) and his successor David Stern, who came on in 1984. Between them, they pursued marketing opportunities, struck TV deals, and expanded the league’s visibility with licensed merchandise and brand partnerships. Croatto’s diligent research, which included more than 300 interviews, pulls back the curtain on all that went on off-court. Any fan of the game would do well to pick this up—it’s a slam dunk. Agent: Louise Fury, the Bent Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/20/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1630-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1632-7
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