Life on the Run

Life on the Run



The Pequod Review:

Bill Bradley was a star forward for the New York Knicks from 1966 to 1977, and his memoir Life on the Run focuses on about twenty days in the middle of the 1973-74 NBA season. It is an exceptionally well-written book, and Bradley has good insights into the rhythms of each game, the exhausting drain of an 82-game season, and the reasons that basketball teams succeed or fail. And some of the mini-profiles of his teammates are very good too; here he describes Phil Jackson:

At age sixteen, when Phil stood six feet five inches, he abandoned his first love, baseball, and chose basketball as his favorite sport. He acquired keys to the Williston, North Dakota, town armory. Alone, he sneaked past the stage that stood at one end of the hall to the basketball court, where for hours he worked on his hook shot…

Jackson’s style as a player developed in accordance with his build, which reminds me of a clothes hanger turned upside down. Tall and thin, with long arms (42-inch sleeve), he seemed to be off balance constantly. When he ran or jumped or shot he seemed to be caroming off unseen opponents, able to right himself with just enough time to make the necessary move. It was as if his arms served as separate sides of a scale which never achieved equilibrium but constantly fluctuated from side to side. He surprised big men by his defensive skills and made them feel they were being guarded by a man with three sets of arms. He shot his hook with great accuracy while coming across the middle.

Some of his other observations go far beyond just basketball: 

Only one thing is inarguable: without a body of convictions, life becomes a series of events in futile pursuit of utopia on earth, or of endless material possessions, or of sybaritic comfort, or of self-satisfied mastery of a narrow series of intellectual disciplines.... If you choose faith, then you move beyond ritual to search for your own individual path. You become engaged in a process of remaking yourself -- by what you do, what values you adopt, what you teach your children, how closely you listen to a neighbor, how good a steward you are for future generations, how sincerely you try to understand another persons suffering and joy, and how loving you are, not only to those who you love but also to strangers.


Living life intensely has a momentum and exhilaration of its own. Thinking about events you have experienced, and developing perspective about them, in some way completes, and finding words to express them gives perspective and bring about a sense of closure.