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READ: The Punch - One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever 
- John Feinstein 

Publisher: Little Brown
Price: £16, Hardback

Christmas 1977. An oncourt fight breaks out between the Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers. Rudy Tomjanovich races to break it up and is met by Kermit Washington's fist, delivering one of the worst punches ever seen in a sport not governed by the Queensberry Rules 

The blow to Tomjanovich dislodged his skull from his head and required years of surgery and therapy. Washington, hitherto an hard-working journeyman, becomes a near pariah as punishment for his moment of madness and even today, getting work is difficult. 

Meanwhile, Rudy T becomes head coach of the two-time NBA Championship Rockets while picking up Olympic gold on the way before stepping down last summer. Feinstein, in his words, "chronicles the untold story of what went wrong that night, the drastic response by the NBA, the conspiracy theories about the fight's origins and the remarkably story about how one man's mistake has haunted two good men for their entire adult lives."

Like Einstein's other fabulous work, these are the stories behind the tales and the dramas inside the play. No amount of detail is spared to recount the torturous path taken by the protagonists until they finally meet again 25 years removed from that fateful night.

The problem with this work is that, essentially, it is the perfect 2000 word feature - not an entire book. Read three chapters and you've got most of the plot. Read one more and you get it all. It feels too stretched out and often repetitive.

Kermit comes across as the victim as much as Tomjanovich and as absolution for his sin, this is effective. But sometimes less is more, and this is too much to truly impress.
 

Rating:  5/10

Click here to buy this at Amazon.co.uk
 

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