CHASE THE GAME by Pat Jordan


Email this review


An unlubricated biography of three Bridgeport (Conn.) boys--one black, two white--whose hopes of pro basketball careers foundered early. Jordan has thoroughly researched their circumstances but he hasn't selected carefully: facts and figures accumulate instead of forming a shaped narrative, and so much is attempted--deep family and environmental analysis along with the rebounds and assists--that the information obscures the picture. Walter Luckett was the most promising of the three, setting records in high school that netted him a Sports Illustrated cover, then freezing up in college, and never making it past Detroit's pre-season camp. Frank Oleynick, the least talented at the start, trained harder, perfected his game, and spent a season with Seattle; but he never played regularly for Bill Russell and was soon eased out of the organization. And Barry McLeod, Frank's cousin and the least egotistical of the lot, finished school, had a tryout with the Bulls, but never made the team; nowadays he won't even play pickup in the neighborhood. This is the flip side of celebrity, the guys whose playing time runs out before their Mercedes payments. Too bad Jordan overworks the novelistic touches--family drinking problems or one-on-oneupmanship incidents. He's scoured their teenage haunts, can quote early coaches and disappointed fans, even has a handle on the pro scene (reverse discrimination, rookie hazing, etc.). But in presenting his trio as almost tragic heroes, he both bloats their importance and trivializes their lost hopes.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Dodd, Mead