The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever

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9780316735636: The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever

With unerring insight into the deeper truths of professional sports, John Feinstein explores in riveting detail what happened one night in December 1977 when, as a fistfight broke out on the court between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers, Kermit Washington delivered a punch that nearly killed All-Star Rudy Tomjanovich. The punch-now legendary in the annals of American sports-radically changed the trajectory of both men's lives and reverberates throughout the National Basketball Association to this day. Feinstein's compelling investigation of this single cataclysmic incident and its after-math casts a light on the NBA's darkest secrets, revealing the true price men pay when they choose a career in sports.

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In 1977, Rudy Tomjanovich and Kermit Washington became entwined in a single punch that would change not only their lives, but how professional basketball is played today. Because the punch dislodged Tomjanovich's skull and nearly destroyed both men's careers, the scuffle never settled as a dusty bit of NBA trivia. Instead, it nearly superseded both men's notable achievements. The history of that punch (it could not, by any standards, be considered a fight) and the fate of the two men are the subjects of John Feinstein's The Punch.

In the early days of the NBA, teams had their stars and their "enforcers." Enforcers such as Washington protected star players on the court with their willingness to mix it up. With concise prose, Feinstein reports on this era, following strings of trades, drafts, and personal relationships to their nexus. Those who do not think about basketball on a statistical level may occasionally find themselves lost, but Feinstein, ever conscious of his subject, ties the tangents neatly to the core of the scuffle that led to the infamous punch.

Thorough and thoughtful, Feinstein does not make any excuses, nor does he vilify. He simply traces the web of both men's lives back to their adolescent years when it was not about the NBA, nor the punch, but about the game. Anyone who has ever wondered about these two men, or the history of the NBA, will want to read this book. --Karin Rosman

About the Author:

John Feinstein is the author of several acclaimed and bestselling sports books, including the now legendary A GOOD WALK SPOILED. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland and Shelter Island, New York.

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