The great novelist James Michener is quoted as saying, “I can write four pages about a chair, any chair, and make you cry.” Sports Illustrated writer and bestselling author L. Jon Wertheim can write about sports, any sport, and make you smile.

The latest proof comes in the form of Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever, just published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which tracks Wertheim’s thesis that 1984 was a pivot point in everything to do with sports, entertainment, broadcasting, and popular culture. The case he makes is convincing, and the book he has written is outstanding.

The book covers everything from the Olympics to the NBA to pro tennis to baseball to professional wrestling. The main characters are Michael Jordan, Olympics commissioner Peter Ueberroth, and David Stern.

This is the year that Los Angeles hosted the summer Olympics, and, thanks to Ueberroth, enjoyed a ratings bonanza and a huge profit, coming on the heels of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which lost a bundle. The college athletes—no pros yet, thank you—competing for places on the US basketball team included Jordan, a young and hungry Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon (the “H”, to spell his name correctly would come later), and a bunch of other soon-to-be household names.

Back then, though, Jordan, who had just been drafted by the Chicago Bulls, was a happy-go-lucky, happy-to-be-there kid, evidence of his game’s transcendence only then beginning to be noticed.

Ueberroth is a commanding figure in the story, having taken the Olympics, starred by the Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and the aforementioned Montreal games, and turned them into, well, an Olympian success.

But there’s so much more that happened in 1984, Wertheim points out. The lowly Chicago Cubs fought their way into the National League Championship Series under the ownership of a fan-turned-billionaire, Tom Ricketts. His might have been the most amazing Cubs story of all, going from fan to owner in just a few short decades.

Meanwhile, back in the NBA, David Stern was the commissioner/drill sergeant who realized something no one else had understood—that people all over the world would pay big money to watch NBA games, buy NBA gear, or otherwise affiliate themselves with a league that, not too many years earlier, played its Finals on tape delay.

1984 is the year that Larry Bird and Michael Jordan entered the league and started their lunch bucket vs. Hollywood rivalry that enthralled billions of sports fans. It’s also the year that a thin, slight, hockey player—you might have heard of him, name of Wayne Gretzky—started his fantabulous run in the NHL.

In 1984, however, the fun never sets, especially if you are Cyndi Lauper, and you’re trying to launch a singing career with a ballad called “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” What’s the backdrop for Cyndi’s song? Would you believe professional wrestling, and MTV, all at the same time? It could only have happened in 1984, and you can only find the story in Wertheim’s Glory Days.

The book takes its name, of course, from the eponymous Bruce Springsteen song and album, which came out that year, as did a slight, unassuming, charming movie about martial arts. It was called The Karate Kid. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

What’s a Ralph Macchio vehicle doing in a book about sports? Well, prior to 1984 and the advent of Karate Kid, most Americans could name a maximum of two people associated with martial arts—Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The Karate Kid film and its sequalae changed everything, however. Now, Americans could name at least a few more people studying martial arts—their kids. Wertheim recounts how the movie launched a boom in suburban martial arts studios and competitions that lasts to this day.

And when did all that happen, class? That’s right…1984.

Wertheim is one of the great storytellers of the modern sports world, where he writes felicitous features, news stories, and mailbag pieces, often, but not always about tennis, and while other sportswriters may approach his level of talent, no one exceeds him for insight and readability.

Speaking of tennis, did I mention that 1984 is the year that John McEnroe, the biggest brat in the history of organized sports, took Wimbledon? And that one of the long-term benefits to Los Angeles for hosting the Olympics was the fact that inner-city tennis took off? Maybe you’ve heard of two of the young women who were able to learn the game in programs funded by the Olympics surplus. Serena and Venus Williams, anyone?

In short, it’s hard to argue with the central premise of Wertheim’s book, that 1984 changed everything. For those of us who lived through the year and can recall it, the book is a delightful stroll down multiple memory lanes. And for anyone who loves sports, any and all sports, it’s a feast not to be missed.