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Michael Jordan: The Life [Kindle Edition]

Roland Lazenby
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $30.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Book Description

"It's not every day that I'm blown away by a book about a sports figure. But MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE, by Roland Lazenby, ranks up there with the very best: The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger, and Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer. The depth of reporting, his frequent ascent into poetry, and his intelligent analysis of the life of this complicated, fascinating American icon deserve Pulitzer Prize consideration. For the first time I understand what makes Michael Jordan tick. I was captivated, fascinated and beguiled from beginning to end." -- Peter Golenbock, New York Times-bestselling author of George and In the Country of Brooklyn

The definitive biography of a legendary athlete

The Shrug. The Shot. The Flu Game. Michael Jordan is responsible for sublime moments so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. When most people think of him, they think of his beautiful shots with the game on the line, his body totally in sync with the ball -- hitting nothing but net.

But for all his greatness, this scion of a complex family from North Carolina's Coastal Plain has a darker side: he's a ruthless competitor and a lover of high stakes. There's never been a biography that encompassed the dual nature of his character and looked so deeply at Jordan on and off the court -- until now.

Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby spent almost thirty years covering Michael Jordan's career in college and the pros. He witnessed Jordan's growth from a skinny rookie to the instantly recognizable global ambassador for basketball whose business savvy and success have millions of kids still wanting to be just like Mike. Yet Lazenby also witnessed the Michael Jordan whose drive and appetite are more fearsome and more insatiable than any of his fans could begin to know. Michael Jordan: The Life explores both sides of his personality to reveal the fullest, most compelling story of the man who is Michael Jordan.

Lazenby draws on his personal relationships with Jordan's coaches; countless interviews with Jordan's friends, teammates, and family members; and interviews with Jordan himself to provide the first truly definitive study of Michael Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lazenby, author of an acclaimed biography of NBA great Jerry West, correctly points out that there have been enough books written about Michael Jordan to qualify as a genre. So why another? In order to reveal, Lazenby says, more of Jordan’s true self, his complex, almost bipolar personality. Jordan, we learn, driven by his hypercompetitiveness, could go from being a gracious person off the court to a vicious antagonist to teammates and opponents. As Jordan’s fame grew, Lazenby shows, he became its prisoner, and his isolation worsened after his father, Michael’s anchor in a world of sycophants, was murdered. Lazenby also digs into the rest of Jordan’s family, noting that Michael was estranged from the family for a time over a dispute between his then-wife, Juanita, and his mother. Lazenby’s resources include the vast printed Jordan library as well as interviews conducted recently, along with gleanings from the author’s years on the NBA beat. Readers who have immersed themselves in the Jordan “genre” will be familiar with much of what’s detailed here, but MJ’s life is a movie worth watching again, and Lazenby adds enough deleted scenes to add some oomph to the familiar story. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Interest in Jordan remains high, and this biography will be heavily promoted and is sure to receive coverage beyond both book pages and sports sections. --Wes Lukowsky


One of Amazon's Best Books of the Year: Sports & Outdoors

"In his thoughtful, extraordinarily well-­researched biography "Michael Jordan: The Life," Roland Lazenby... gives us the life and much more.... The exhaustive narrative of Jordan's basketball career is written with appropriate awe. But what makes this portrayal especially worthwhile is everything else."—Mike Greenberg, New York Times Book Review

"An utterly definitive biography.... The most comprehensive attempt yet made to explain the factors that have gone into producing the most famous basketball player and marketing phenom in the history of world sports....I don't know how it would be possible to write a more complete biography of him."—The Chicago Tribune

"When a world-class biographer writes about a world-class athlete, you have a biography for the ages. This is the ultimate study of Michael Jordan, and I know you will be as captivated as I was."—Pat Williams, Orlando Magic senior vice president, author of Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret

"Revelatory.... A fascinating examination into the lonely, prideful man behind the glimmering icon."—Publishers Weekly

"Roland Lazenby's new biography of Michael Jordan is as breathtaking as a dunk by 'His Airness.' ... A richly detailed, thoroughly researched book.... Lazenby expertly sifts through the myths to produce a definitive portrait of Michael Jordan."—Bob D'Angelo, Tampa Tribune

"Right from its early pages it's clear that Roland Lazenby's biography of Michael Jordan is in full-press mode to be the best volume ever written on perhaps basketball's greatest player.... Lazenby's a born researcher and some serious legwork went into gathering all of the quotes and facts here, which add up to a kind of Jordan-centric encyclopedia."—Colin Fleming, The Boston Globe

"Lazenby's thoroughly enjoyable biography is an impressive portrait of a man consumed by his competitive ambitions. It is also by far the most complete book on Michael Jordan to date.... Essential reading for all sports fans and particularly for those interested in American cultural history and popular culture."—Library Journal (starred review)

"A lot has been written about arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, but Roland Lazenby's Michael Jordan: The Life is easily the definitive version. The journalist has covered Jordan's career for nearly thirty years and his knowledge of the game and of this miraculous player shows in what is one of the best sports biographies in years."—Parade

"What makes this portrayal especially worthwhile is the long trail Lazenby follows before the awesome career even begins."—New York Times Book Review's "Editor's Choice"

"It's not every day that I'm blown away by a book about a sports figure. But MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE, by Roland Lazenby, ranks up there with the very best: The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger, and Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer. The depth of reporting, his frequent ascent into poetry, and his intelligent analysis of the life of this complicated, fascinating American icon deserve Pulitzer Prize consideration. For the first time I understand what makes Michael Jordan tick. I was captivated, fascinated and beguiled from beginning to end."—Peter Golenbock, New York Times-bestselling author of George and In the Country of Brooklyn

"Studded with insights."—Kirkus Reviews

"Resplendent... A definitive, multidimensional portrait of a man and a legend, and a notable contribution to sports literature."—Miriam Tuliao, BookReporter

"Lazenby's book is impressive in its research. There are details bound to surprise even the most die-hard Bulls fan."—Mike McGraw, The Chicago Daily Herald

"The definitive portrait.... The dream of the non-fiction writer is to condemn future books on the same subject to irrelevance. It's possible Lazenby has achieved this lofty goal: nothing more needs to be written about Jordan."—Adrian Lee, Macleans

"A comprehensive look at the life and times of the man and the legend.... A great work for any sports enthusiast and B-ball fan to read about one of the best that ever came to the game."—Brook Stephenson, Ebony

"Lazenby is one of the best, most thoughtful and thorough people writing books on the NBA today, which makes all his books fascinating reads and great looks at the psychology of teams and great players. His stuff is must read."—Kurt Helin, NBC Sports' Pro Basketball Talk

Lazenby is "the Michael Jordan of writing about Michael Jordan."—MSNBC's The Cycle

"Lazenby's prose soars as dramatically and excitingly as does his subject. Jordan appeared to fly through the air; Lazenby makes time fly as readers immerse themselves in an extraordinarily competitive life. Does any biography deserve 700 pages? When you read Lazenby's Michael Jordan: The Life you'll be hard-pressed to answer anything but yes."—Michael Levin, New York Journal of Books

"MJ's life is a movie worth watching again, and Lazenby adds enough deleted scenes to add some oomph to the familiar story."—Booklist

Product Details

  • File Size: 5888 KB
  • Print Length: 675 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316194778
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,625 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Raze
Micheal Jordan:The Life is an average biographical work of a sports icon whose career was larger than the game of basketball, and any other sports figure in the history of sports. Roland Lazenby's account of our beloved MJ fails to deliver anything new or exciting, and the book comes off as just another familiar sports column. Sure, he covers much of MJ's basketball career, but he clearly steers past major obstacles-positive and negative-in MJ's life, with only scant details, i.e., Operation Push's Nike Boycot, and his refusal to endorse African American Harvey Gantt in the North Carolina Senate race against Jesse Helms because "Republicans buy shoes too." How did these decisions impact MJ, family and friends, African-American teammates, and the African-American community?

MJ's family life is only remotely mentioned, many marital infidelities are oddly omitted, inplying that his affairs surfaced toward the end and after his basketball career. How did all this impact his wife and family? Also, Lazenby writes that MJ was a proud father, but fails to give any documentation to his Airness's fatherhood experiences; how his legend impacted his boy's (Marcus and Jeffrey) basketball careers, and how his failures affected all his children's (3 total, at the time) childhood experiences. Lastly, the book ends rather abruptly, leaving almost a blank concerning future plans of MJ's Charolette Hornets, his children's successes-life journey, and his new life with current wife Yvette Prieto. It would have been interesting story concerning MJ and Yvette Prieto's first meeting, and how she ultimately won MJ's heart. And what of MJ's estranged relationhip with his mother and siblings? All of these questions are strangely ignored as the book comes to a close.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty exhaustive look at Jordan's career August 13, 2014
Format:Audio CD
Lazenby was apparently able to roll together chapters from previous books about Michael and the Bulls together with new information into this comprehensive 700 page biography of the Greatest of All Time. It spans from Jordan's ancestry all the way to his caustic Hall of Fame acceptance speech and failures as Charlotte owner.

I grew up in the Jordan Era, had The Dunk on my wall, wore Nike everything, and watched Bulls games on NBC and WGN religiously. This book includes every anecdote and story I ever heard about MJ's early career-- pretty much anything that was ever put in print or on the air. Lazenby has exhaustively gone through public record; a weakness of the book is that he seems to lack personal access to Jordan over his 30 years of covering him. That is probably just as well, plenty of other journalists were close to Jordan and protected his secrets. But the depth of Jordan's relationships with others aren't explored, it is not an expose like The Jordan Rules was. But critics wrongly assail Lazenby on this point as Jordan does not open himself up to just anyone, and neither do those who know him well-- Jordan never forgets a slight and does not care to make amends. If Lazenby had been close to him, the book may well have been a promotional piece like Hang Time was.

The strength of this book is looking at Jordan's family tree beginning with his great grandfather, who came of age in the post-Civil War South. Speaking of him still brings tears to Jordan's eyes, the man was tough and relentless and Lazenby has the reader believe that his resolve runs through Jordan's DNA. Jordan's ancestors faced discrimination and hardship that helped mold his family into a unit and created opportunities for Jordan.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive! June 5, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The content itself is great. This issue here is how much you want to read about Jordan's ancestors and early life. I think some of the negative reviews I've read have overstated it, though. By about 15% into the book, you're already dealing with Jordan's high school (varsity) playing, and his recruitment to UNC. From there, the remaining 80-85% is lots of new tidbits about the life you already know: college, the NBA, and post-pro life.

If you're really looking to jump into an inside look at the parts of Jordan's life that you're already somewhat familiar with, skip the first 10-15%. That said, slogging through the early stuff makes the later stuff feel more satisfying.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"The rarest talent is like a comet streaking briefly across the sky, captured only by the trailing flash of its brilliance." In his resplendent biography of Michael Jordan, veteran sportswriter Roland Lazenby carefully chronicles the Hall of Famer's journey from his humble beginnings in Teachey, North Carolina, to his startling transformation to "His Airness."

"Personality-wise, he's a study," said former Chicago Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter of the six-time NBA champion. Lazenby offers nuanced insights into the basketball phenom's character through soulful and, at times, wistful family narratives. To understand the full force of MJ's wondrous life, Lazenby opens with the poignant story of Dawson Jordan. Born at the turn of the 20th century in a shotgun shack on the banks of North Carolina's Coastal plain, Michael's great-grandfather was a looming authority figure who possessed immense physical strength. In his youth, Dawson engaged in dangerous forestry, taking down trees, then bundling and floating the logs downriver to Wilmington's shipyards. In his lifetime, he was a lumber mill worker, logger, sharecropper, moonshiner, hunt club cook and determined survivor.

Lazenby portrays James and Deloris Jordan as thoroughly devoted parents, preparing their five children to become citizens of the world. "The greatest impact of their parenting came in the constant shaping of the children's attitudes," Lazenby writes, "they preached a constant refrain: Work hard. Achieve. Set goals. Think ahead. Don't be denied. Be considerate. Don't dwell on race."

Jordan's ability to listen was among his most impressive attributes, and his relationship with his mother made him receptive to coaching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
Probably the best biography I've ever read. I read a lot of sports related titles like this and I was blown away. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Blake Bollinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read for a Jordan fan. Blood on the Horns next!!
Published 15 days ago by Kenute C. Francis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 17 days ago by Ervin L. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Tells enough to disappoint you re: him as a person but stays vague enough not to be slanderous
Published 19 days ago by Marty G. Waters
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I enjoyed the narrative, Lazenby takes you into the locker room, he family relationships, and contentious war with the Bulls brass.
Published 19 days ago by Darren walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking Air out of Jordan
Was nice to get perspective of Jordan's life from different perspectives. Personally I think too much emphasis on negative things in his life as opposed to the positives he gave... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Darrin C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
it was a gift and his words….it was “the bomb” :))
Published 1 month ago by Branchel
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight to the past
I did like the book a lot, specially the part about Jordan's family past. I think that set the tone of a biography that brings a lot of information about the dynamics of the Bulls.
Published 1 month ago by Adrián Fallas Cordero
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
all obligations were met, job well done
Published 1 month ago by aaron steadman
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for basketball fans
It took me awhile to finish this book because of my classes, but this book was captivating from the first page. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Demerye J Paulin
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More About the Author

Michael Jordan saved my life once. It was during the 1995 playoffs, Chicago vs. Charlotte, after a practice at the arena in Charlotte. He was walking out of the building with a group of reporters following. Walking backwards, I was leading the pack, with my tape recorder in his face, interviewing as we walked. I was a foot from walking off the loading dock at the back of the arena, about a 10 foot fall onto concrete, when he reached out and grabbed my arm to stop me from going over the edge.
So when I say that I have an interest in Jordan, I mean it.
I've written a new biography, Michael Jordan, The Life, set to be released by Little, Brown on May 6, 2014. His is a very big life, and the book was an immense challenge to write but oh so fascinating, as was the Jerry West bio I wrote in 2010 for ESPN Books/Random House.
I like to write about competitive personalities, especially those in the NBA. I like to write about their families. Among the zillion questions I had about MJ, I wanted to know where he came from, who the Jordans were. They were moonshiners, making and selling illegal liquor on North Carolina's Coastal Plain. So that's where his hard edge came from, I thought upon discovering who they were. Just about all the farmers and sharecroppers were moonshiners back in the day. That was their cash crop, the one that kept the family fed. They were tough-minded people, just like Jordan himself.
I've written a book that builds his life from that background. Starting at the beginning, with the birth of his great grandfather Dawson Jordan, allows me to take the reader through the process of his family, his background, and the nurturing of his vast competitive nature. What's more, it's immensely fun to track his rise. I enjoyed writing about the sharecroppers on North Carolina's Coastal Plain, just as I enjoyed writing about the coal miners and frontier settlers in Jerry West's background in West Virginia.
I see it as connecting all of the important cultural dots in the backgrounds of iconic figures.


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