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The Jordan Rules
on February 6, 2012
A detailed, journal like retelling of the Chicago Bulls 1991 championship season, their first of six in the 90s.
This was controversial because it gave a rare glimpse of Michael Jordan outside of a Nike commercial or NBA promotional video. And indeed, while there's plenty of drama to go around, Jordan comes off the worst, seeming selfish and mean spirited to his teammates. In the end (spoilers are hardly worth warning about in this book), he and the team come together and beat both the hated Pistons and the Lakers, but for kids growing up idolizing Jordan, these stories serve to shatter a well crafted image.
At the time, there were some denials by Jordan and some of the other players (Stacey King, who perhaps comes off worse than Jordan in places, compared it to "Mother Goose") but for me, these stories seem to ring true. The stories in here aren't that unbelievable, or uncommon in sports. Books like this serve to undo the narrative that we as fans (often with a willing press) build in our own heads, with our team, bearing our hometown's name and a distinctive logo as the good guys. The truth is that teams are made of individuals, human ones, some who if we met we'd like, and some we wouldn't. They have their own lives and concerns, and more often than not simply don't go through the vicarious identification we as fans do. It's easy to see why journalists, in private talk, tend to root for players they like instead of teams.
Sam Smith clearly has his favorites, the hard working Paxson, the beleaguered Cartwright. The weakness is that the book often reads more like a collection of anecdotes than a full narrative, with often awkward writing (as another mentioned, comparing Chuck Daly's sideline antics to Fred Astaire, then Bobby Knight). But for many fans of Jordan or the Bulls or of sports in general, those actually make the story enjoyable. Still, I'd recommend it to hardcore basketball and sports fans primarily. For a parental note, because I know to this day many extremely young fans who eat up anything with Jordan on it, I'll add that the language and subject matter delves often into mature subjects.