Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mourning Halberstam's Passing

I am saddened by the death of the author David Halberstam. I have three books of his; "The Breaks of the Game", about the Trailblazers of the late 70's and other NBA stories, "War in a Time of Peace", and "The Reckoning." I haven't read The Reckoning yet, but I certainly will soon. Frankly, this post is going to be lousy; it's not very easy to make this interesting or cheery.

What I find so enviable about David's writing gifts in "The Breaks of the Game" is the way he could even make injured players interesting. When we read something like "DNP: Foot injury", we tend to forget that player or ignore them. David interviewed them and showed how they were struggling to stay in the league, or regain their starting jobs, or even return to an MVP level (in the case of Walton). Especially interesting is the Billy Ray Bates story; you know Billy Ray is doomed, but thankfully the book is done before it happens.

I also envy the way he reports the story without falling prey to jock envy. Sports books can get ruined because the embedded reporter is either too close to the story and players, or because the reporter is too distant and snobbish. But David navigates such shoals and sandbars with ease in his book.

Halberstam wrote a few articles for ESPN Page 2. Somehow, this was never promoted the way it should have been. Either that or I missed it. But here is an article he wrote titled "Sports can distract, but they don't heal" about getting our priorities right after 9/11. I recommend it. And my sympathies and condolences to those who knew him.

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