Jeff Pearlman

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Replaced by Max

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Every family has its share of sad stories, but the Pearlmans have one that takes the cake.

The woman in the above photograph is the mother of my late grandfather, Nat Pearlman. In other words, she’s my great grandmother. And the man accompanying her is Max Sailor. He’s not my great grandfather.

According to a conversation I’ve heard myriad times, and one that was reaffirmed tonight at the dinner table, my great grandfather was a good man who, as he aged, began to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. As his symptoms worsened and worsened, he did two things that are either noble or crazy. Or both.

• A. He told his wife to divorce him so that she could have a better life.

• B. She told him to marry Max Sailor, a man they both knew and were friendly with.

So that’s what she did. My great grandmother divorced my great grandfather who, I believe, went to live in some sort of home for the disabled. His Parkinsons got worse and worse and worse. He supposedly visited my Uncle Marty (his grandson) a couple of times when he was an infant, but otherwise retreated into a very sad, very private life until his death.

Meanwhile, Max and my great grandmother lived on.

Without him.

I never met any of the characters involved, but it still breaks my heart.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life