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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2006
Jack McCallum's outstanding ":07 Seconds or Less" chronicles a season (2005-2006) spent inside the Phoenix Suns organization. McCallum uses 40 years of journalism skills and his decades as SI's top NBA writer to give us a compelling story of the Sun's tremendous achievements last year. Beset by season-ending injuries to stalwarts Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni and his staff somehow piece together 54 victories and two already-classic 4-3 series victories against the Lakers and Clippers before simply running out of gas against the Mavs. The centerpiece of the book are the three playoff series, especially the stirring comeback from a 1-3 hole against the Lakers. There's probably 100+ pages on those games alone. Whoever made the editing decision to front-load and spotlight that material deserves an award. By starting out with that series, the book takes a two-fisted grab of your attention and never lets go.

For those curious about the title, it alludes to Coach D'Antoni's philosophy that his offense has the best chance to score if it gets a shot off within the first seven seconds of its 24-second possession. It's that philosophy that makes the Suns so exciting and refreshing to watch. McCallum and the coaching staff make the point that the NBA is, in general, over-coached and, well, flat-out boring. Let's hope more teams see the product and the results that D'Antoni is getting and sign up. [Eddie Jordan's Wizards look to be on pace this year.] I'm sure players around the league are dying to play for D'Antoni. McCallum's book can only reinforce that perception. He comes across as a good guy and a talented coach who has the respect of his players.

The one eye-opening surprise in the book is the fragility of Shawn Marion's ego and psyche. The staff has to spend a lot of time and emotional energy stroking the guy because he seems to feel slighted by, well, just about everything.

If you like basketball, you'll love this book. And there's no better team to cover than the Suns, the most exciting team in the NBA. I love the quote McCallum elicits from Lawrence Frank, coach of the Nets: "Playing the Suns is like being a passenger in a car going 75 miles an hour. When you're driving, like they are, you feel comfortable. But when you're the passenger, you feel uncomfortable. The trick is to figure out how to be the a driver. But they don't let you do that."

And that, boiled down to its essence, is what makes Mike D'Antoni a successful coach.
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on November 15, 2006
Finished the book in 2 days, amazing read, and well written. You laugh at the pranks,and player banter, and you see the daily struggles of life within a bright spotlight. You see Nash crying at a long season of overcoming doubters and pouring everything into this team and still coming up short of the NBA finals. You see a team, that was always doubted in there skills, there ability and there desire, but rising to challenge after challenge.

This book makes you feel apart of the team, and part of the inner circle and of a very special season. Jack McCallum is one of the best sports writers in my generation.
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on February 9, 2007
I grew up in Phoenix and was seven years old when the Suns played their first game. I have many fond memories of this team, and just as many agonizing memories. The team has usually played a very entertaining game, and has received great support from the city. The fact that so many ex-Suns players continue to be affiliated with the team is a testament to the special nature of this franchise.

I think the author did a great of reporting the good (and not so good) aspects of the 2005-2006 season. He really hit the nail on the head as he described the team's lack of a killer instinct. I wonder if there is any team that has blown more double-digit leads over the years than the Suns. Certainly the Suns have pulled some major chokes in the playoffs, being one of only a handful of teams to give-up a 3-1 edge in a series as well as losing a series (more than once) by having a 2-0 lead (and winning both on the road).

This is an excellent chronicle of a season that exceeded the expectations of the fans - I highly recommend this book.
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on November 23, 2006
I really enjoyed McCallum's cult hit "Foul Lines," and this is the non-fiction equivalent. The author takes advantage of some unbelievable access to give real sense of the inner workings of a team - of a coaching staff, in particular. The writing is top notch as well. This is really on the short list of fine sports books.
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on August 29, 2010
I'm going to keep this short, because I know I hate when people are too wordy with these reviews. This is probably the best book about the NBA lifestyle that I have ever read. You really feel like you are part of the team, traveling with them, experiencing the ups & downs of a winning season/playoffs, and you really feel like you know these guys (especially the coaching staff) after you finish the book. I know this might sound crazy, but that is just how well written the book is. I also have to give a ton of credit to Mike D, the coaching staff, and the players; something tells me that with any other group of guys this wouldn't have gone as well, but since these guys were all so willing to open up and let a journalist become part of their team...well the result is really something special. So basically, if you want to know what went on behind the scenes with the Phoenix Suns during their run to the Western Conf. Finals and basically just what it feels like to be part of a coaching staff everyday on an NBA powerhous, then buy this book...I guarantee you won't put it down until you're done.
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on January 9, 2007
This compelling book gives you an inside look at the NBA's ultimate run & gun team. McCallum had to resist the overpowering urge to become a 'fan' and remain a reporter--which must have been quite difficult to do considering the down to earth nature of the Suns players. It's amazing that any team would grant an author such access to the inner workings. You get a true inside look at how the coaches think, how they make decisions and how they pull the strings in their attempts to become a winner.

I live in Phoenix and have been a fan of the Suns for several years. This obviously contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the book. It's hard to judge how others unfamiliar with the Suns' players would enjoy it.

My only critism is that the book was far too short. The 'Year in the life of' format deserves more space than the author gave it.
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Great NBA book. Even if you're not a fan of the Steve Nash Phoenix Suns or Mike D'Antoni's coaching (guilty as charged on the 2nd), this book gives you a good sense of what coaching and game planning look like behind the scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The book mainly progresses game to game during their playoff run, with a few regular season games sprinkled in here and there to refresh the viewer. Jack McCallum does a great job at writing in general.
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on April 1, 2007
I loved this book because it was about the Suns, but any basketball fan should read this book. Jack McCallum is a wonderful writer who obviously is a great person who has the ability to befriend and become a part of the team. There is no other way he could have gotten such an insightful perspective. Every word of this book draws you in and makes you feel like you were right there in the locker room too. The worst part about this book is that it ends too soon.
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on November 23, 2007
A great, well-written and funny book exploring what goes on behind closed doors on an NBA team.

If you're looking for a book that delves into players affinity for clubs, booze and girls, then you'll have to look elsewhere. The Suns are a pretty clean club, and I'm sure they've done some stuff that isn't included in the book. What is included is an insiders look into the thought processes of coaches and players and discusses how the relationships within a professional organization can affect the win-loss column. There are some solid perspectives on team chemistry, ownership, the role coaches play in the success (or failure) of a ball club, the pressures of the playoffs, the psyche of the pro athlete (who knew someone making $20m a year could be so sensitive), how marketing efforts can affect a player's attitude and much more. I kind of wish the Suns would've won it all in 2006 so that this book could've been longer. Also, you don't have to be a Suns fan to appreciate this book. I'm a die-hard Pistons fan, and found this read very enjoyable.

On thing to point out: there's some swearing in this book (a few F bombs and the like), so if you're a parent thinking of picking this book up for a young Suns fan you may want to browse the pages beforehand. Otherwise, there really isn't anything worse than that, though.
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on January 31, 2012
I bought this book this morning because I was collecting some light reading material for when I'm on the treadmill. I had some downtime and cracked it open and could not set it down; I'm now finishing the last chapter at 10:35 PM. Somehow, the fact that we already know the end to this story does not diminish the book at all. By the end of it you'll be absolutely crushed. I now appreciate and respect each and every player from the 2006 Phoenix Suns. This book also sheds a lot of light on the New York Knicks current struggles. Not to mention it shows just how much work it takes to run a quietly strong basketball team, which we are lucky enough to have several of this season.
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