Book Review - Tip Off: How the 1984 Draft Changed Basketball

June 9th, 2007

Tip Off – How The 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever
Filip Bondy
Da Capo Press
$25.00 ($30.00 Canada)

New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy’s Tip Off is out just in time to put this year’s NBA draft in perspective. While Greg Oden and Kevin Durant appear destined for greatness, there isn’t any other “superstar” apparent in the mix. On the other hand, four of the greatest players of all-time were picked in the 1984 draft – Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

To think that heading into the draft Olajuwon was the only prospect of the “big four” considered a sure-fire superstar is mind-boggling. The league’s mindset on drafting players at the time (bigger is better) is analyzed and many basketball bigwigs come clean and admit that they messed up. Why Portland picked Sam Bowie over Jordan is dissected, along with the concerns over Barkley’s attitude and Stockton’s strength and skill set. While it is very interesting reading the in depth material on the four superstars listed above, it is also fascinating hearing Bowie’s and Sam Perkins’ back stories and thoughts on what went down draft day.

Where the book really excels is the behind the scenes glimpses it gives its reader. Bondy tells how Barkley tried to eat himself out of the Sixers’ draft plans in a desperate attempt to not be picked by them, how Bobby Knight reduced Jordan to tears at the 1984 Olympic team practices and Bowie’s feelings on being selected ahead of arguably the greatest player to ever lace them up.

Overall, Tip Off is a must read. While there are a couple of errors this eagle eye reviewer found (mention of Jordan’s phantom senior season in college, referring to the Virginia Cavaliers as Cleveland), this book is meticulously researched and a breeze to read. It is a must read for all CHN readers.

4.5 out of 5 stars