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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I'm not any kind of hoops fan at all really, but I am a huge fan of David Halberstam's The Breaks Of The Game-- maybe best sports book ever written.  Part of what makes it great is that Halberstam understood the characters so well, and conveyed that understanding so deftly. One of the best characters was Maurice Lucas, who played his college ball at Marquette. Halberstam's anecdote about Luke's time there was telling: Luke thought the white boys he was surrounded by were peculiar because they drank a ton of beer, and when they weren't drinking beer they talked about how much beer they drank. A whole school of comedy has developed from that sort of observation. When Lucas came to the Trailblazers he usurped what Halberstam described as the prerogative of the team's Big Man, Bill Walton, and was taped by the trainer last. Details like these made me feel like I understood something about these people and the game that I never knew. Charley Pierce adds to my store of knowledge about Maurice Lukas by fessing up to being one of the white guys who was at Marquette at the same time. Sadly, he does so in furtherance of reporting on Lukas' death, at 58, of bladder cancer.  It is odd that I feel this sense of loss, but a tribute, I guess, to David Halberstam as well as to Maurice Lukas.

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