From hang time to prime time Business, entertainment, and the birth of the modern-day NBA

Pete Croatto

Book - 2020

Explores the NBA's surge in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s and its transformation into a global cultural institution. Far beyond simply being a sports league, the NBA has become an entertainment and pop culture juggernaut. From all kinds of team logo merchandise to officially branded video games and players crossing over into reality television, film, fashion lines, and more, there is an inseparable line between sports and entertainment. But only four decades ago, this would have been un...thinkable. Croatto takes us behind the scenes to the meetings that led to the monumental American Basketball Association-National Basketball Association merger in 1976, revolutionizing the NBA's image. He pays homage to legendary talents including Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan and reveals how two polar-opposite rookies, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, led game attendance to skyrocket and racial lines to dissolve. Croatto also dives into CBS's personality-driven coverage of key players, as well as other cable television efforts, which launched NBA players into unprecedented celebrity status.

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2nd Floor New Shelf 796.32364/Croatto (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Subjects
Genres
Instructional and educational works
Published
New York : Atria Books 2020.
Edition
First Atria Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xii, 370 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 321-322) and index.
ISBN
9781982103958
1982103957
Main Author
Pete Croatto (author)
  • Introduction: Our game
  • The politician, the doctor, and the brat
  • The players get their close-up
  • Setting up the business plan
  • Getting ready for star time
  • Oh shit... here we go
  • Finding a soundtrack, gaining a culture
  • Making a Super Bowl
  • The accidental god
  • Let's go to the videotape!
  • Imports and exports
  • Ready for prime time
  • Postgame
  • It's my game now.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Moving beyond a simple explanation that Larry Bird, Erving Johnson, and Michael Jordan saved the NBA, writer Croatto details how a systematic shift in business, marketing, and organizational decisions in the late 1970s and 1980s contributed to the league's global domination. NBA teams faced financial difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s; the league remained solvent by acquiring a new TV contract, restructuring the collective bargain agreement, and creating revenue sharing between teams. Commissioner David Stern understood that the NBA was in the entertainment business as well as the basketball business. As a result, the league concentrated marketing strategy on promoting players over teams. The author shows how, in order to improve the sport's reputation, the NBA produced their own TV and video content, focusing on exciting highlights, and explains how the rise of sneaker culture and hip-hop synergized with the aesthetic that the league tapped into. Croatto goes into depth about the Jordan-Nike collaboration, the All-Star game, and ABA-NBA merger. VERDICT A well-researched work for readers interested in sports business and NBA history. Casual basketball fans should seek out Jackie MacMullan's Basketball: A Love Story.—Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Explores how the NBA's popularity surged in the 1970s and 1980s and how it became a global entertainment and pop culture behemoth, with behind the scenes stories of business meetings and profiles of legendary players.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Explores how the NBA’s popularity surged in the 1970s and 1980s and how it became a global entertainment and pop culture behemoth, with behind the scenes stories of business meetings and profiles of legendary players. 40,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Perfect for fans of Moneyball and The Book of Basketball, this vivid, thoroughly entertaining, and well-researched book explores the NBA's surge in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s and its transformation into a global cultural institution. Far beyond simply being a sports league, the NBA has become an entertainment and pop culture juggernaut. From all kinds of team logo merchandise to officially branded video games and players crossing over into reality television, film, fashion lines, and more, there is an inseparable line between sports and entertainment. But only four decades ago, this would have been unthinkable.Featuring writing that leaps off the page with energy and wit, journalist and basketball fan Pete Croatto takes us behind the scenes to the meetings that lead to the monumental American Basketball Association'National Basketball Association merger in 1976, revolutionizing the NBA's image. He pays homage to legendary talents including Julius 'Dr. J' Erving, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan and reveals how two polar-opposite rookies, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, led game attendance to skyrocket and racial lines to dissolve. Croatto also dives into CBS's personality-driven coverage of key players, as well as other cable television efforts, which launched NBA players into unprecedented celebrity status.Essential reading whether you're a casual or longtime fan, From Hang Time to Prime Time is an enthralling and entertaining celebration of basketball history.