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The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; First Edition edition (October 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594200351
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594200359
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jackson’s chronicle of his final season as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers moves as crisply as a well-executed fast break. Under his direction, the Lakers won three NBA titles, but failed to reach the championship round in 2003. Determined to make another run at the finals in the 2003–2004 season, the Lakers added Hall of Fame players Karl Malone and Gary Payton to a team that already featured superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. But instead of producing another ring, the Lakers were crushed in the finals by the Detroit Pistons. That the Lakers even reached the last round of the playoffs was a feat given the turmoil that surrounded the team (involving the animosity between Shaq and Bryant, and Bryant’s rape charge). Jackson briefly critiques the Lakers’ biggest games of the regular season and analyzes each playoff performance, providing fresh insight without boring readers with play-by-play accounts. He peppers the narrative with pungent observations of his stars—and it’s no surprise that he saves his sharpest criticisms for Bryant. While Shaq could be difficult to deal with, Jackson contends, he was ultimately a team player. And although Shaq and Bryant reached a truce in the season’s final months, Jackson sees Bryant as the epitome of today’s selfish player, a "callous gun for hire."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

While...a hoot for basketball fans, Jackson's experiences also offer lessons for anyone dealing with chaos at home or work. -- Time, October 25, 2004

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Customer Reviews

A must read for all basketball and Laker fans.
G. Guillen
This book provides a very insightful look into a pro sports team and the world of the NBA, as well as a peek into the psyches of Phil, Shaq and Kobe.
K. Harriger
Phil Jackson is coming back to coach the Lakers again this year!
TIm Grubbs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Michael Erisman on October 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you were one of the many who believed that when the Lakers put 4 future Hall of Fame players on the court they would certainly win a championship, then this book goes a long to describing why a team of basketball players with less talent beat them decisively.

Phil opens up on the behind the scenes squabbles, pettiness and egos so large they simply defy explanation. In one example, Kobe Bryant is offered the use of a plane by the Lakers to make his trips back to a Colorado courtroom for his alleged rape trial, and instead of being grateful for the support his team is giving him financially, is mad because he thought he deserved a bigger plane.

The book is full of the insights into the battles between Kobe and Shaq. Imagine two first graders with 100 million dollars each and you start to get close to the level of professionalism and emotional maturity. It is often funny, often sad, and usually just shocking.

The book is written very well, a breeze to read through, and a fascinating tale of psychological narcissism gone wild. I recommend highly for fans of the NBA, or just anyone who is interested in team dynamics. It will also explain why the Lakers got beat so easily by a team with far less talent. A lesson to leaders in organizations everywhere.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Matthieu P. Raillard VINE VOICE on October 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I agree with previous reviewers in that truly insightful books on the NBA (or other sports) tend to be few and far between. The reason, one can suspect, is that everyone wants to cover their behinds, protect their endorsement dollars and preserve any chance of being hired again. This is what makes Phil's book so interesting and entertaining to read. His account of what transpired behind the scenes of the Lakers' fabled season is at times shocking (the immaturity of certain players/coaches/agents is staggering), at times funny, and always honest. Phil has a disarmingly serene style, and his words feel measured yet honest and never manipulative. He is mature enough to put the blame on himself at times, and his candor is in contrast with the 'he said/she said' going on with the Lakers. I know that for many people the Lakers were the Evil Empire, the Yankees of basketball, but I would recommend this work to anyone with a love for basketball, and also anybody who thinks they know how things are behind the scenes. Good stuff.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Continental Op on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Phil Jackson's book isn't packed with gossip and revelations like I thought it would be. Truth be told, all the gossipy stuff about Kobe Bryant came out in the excerpts in the press before the book was released on Oct. 21.

For such a fascinating train-wreck of a team that the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers were, Jackson's book comes across as a little dull. I'm a die-hard Laker fan and most of the information here I had already gathered from reading the newspapers or watching ESPN.

This book is a very fast read. In its pages you get insight into Jackson's unorthodox coaching techniques (meditation, Eastern philosophy, etc.), how he copes with the intrusive sports press, how he massages the Lakers' gargantuan egos, and how he manages a relationship with his boss's daughter (who also happens to be a Laker executive).

The part of the book detailing the regular season has some juicy behind-the-scenes details, but if you've read the excerpts, then you know them already. By the time you get to the 2004 playoffs, it's nothing but basketball jargon.

The sudden implosion of the Lakers following their NBA Finals defeat was jarring and Jackson covers it well. Overall, Jackson's relationship with Kobe Bryant is more complex than the newspapers will have you believe. Kobe is portrayed as a supremely talented but tragically narcissistic character whose search for happiness through basketball will ultimately prove unfulfilling. He's not the next Michael Jordan, folks. As a matter of fact, he's not even CLOSE.

Shaq is portrayed as a big baby and has his flaws, but overall is a good person with a terrific sense of humor. It's telling that Phil Jackson writes how he turned down an executive position with the Lakers, partly in protest of L.A.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
On one hand, after reading this book one can only marvel at the fact that the Lakers even made it to the NBA finals this past year. On the other hand, it's also quite evident why the Lakers failed and ultimately were broken up.

Former Coach Phil Jackson let's loose both barrels squarely aimed at troubled star Kobe Bryant.

He details the pettiness involved in the constant battles with Shaq and Kobe. About how Kobe complained about the quality of the jet which flew Kobe from his courtroom appearances in Colorado back to LA.

Phil documents how he had wanted to trade Kobe as long ago as the 2000 season but was denied by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, in whose eyes Kobe can do no wrong.

Phil documents how he comlained to GM Mitch Kupchack that he could no longer coach Kobe but his hands were tied and it was at that point that Phil knew he would not return for the 2004-2005 season.

Ultimately the house of cards came crumbling down in the NBA finals against the Detroit Pistons. Another person argued that the Pistons were not as talented...a fact that I whole-heartedly disagree with.

The Lakers certainly had the two best players...but the best TEAM was the Pistons. A team that worked harder, and a team with underrated but up and coming stars that was too quick, too resilient for the aging Lakers to deal with.

Quite a read!
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