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The Pivotal Season: How the 1971--72 Los Angeles Lakers Changed the NBA Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 27, 2005


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, January 27, 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (February 1, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0312325096
  • ASIN: B001G8W68E
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,957,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Now a basketball mecca, Los Angeles was once anything but. In the 1960s, the Lakers lost the NBA championship to Boston six times and again in 1970 to New York. By 1971, Laker fans had grown tired of being perennial bride's maids, so much so that, despite a star-studded lineup featuring Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, the Lakers' first home game attendance was 2,500 short of capacity. It wasn't until well into "the streak," during which the Lakers won a record 33 straight games, that fans began paying closer attention. Rosen, a columnist for ESPN.com, writes, "The scoop around the league was that the Lakers' 1970-71 season had marked the team's last chance for glory....The Lakers were the over-the-hill gang and ready for the glue factory." And yet their new coach, Bill Sharman, "the best basketball coach nobody ever heard of," was determined to turn this aging group into a fast-breaking bunch. Rosen's volume is less about how these Lakers changed the NBA than it is about a team remaking itself in one remarkable season. The narrative pulls the reader deep into the action, describing every game, strategy and key injury, as well as the many records set (a 63-point margin of victory, a record 69 wins and those astounding 33 consecutive wins). Casual fans will likely be overwhelmed by the level of detail presented here, but serious NBA history enthusiasts, and certainly Laker fans, will find this armchair entertainment almost as exciting as watching a Lakers' game on television.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 consecutive regular season games on their way to a championship. The team, built around future Hall-of-Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, was coached by a third Hall member, Bill Sharman. Rosen, author of five novels and coauthor, with Phil Jackson, of More Than a Game (2001), traces the team from training camp through the start of the next season. His dual focal points are Sharman and Chamberlain. Sharman, who played with Bill Russell in Boston, convinced Chamberlain to play a more Russell-like style, emphasizing passing and teamwork. Rosen provides background for all the principals, context for games in the streak, as well as an account of the team's play-off run to the championship. This is wonderful reading for NBA history buffs, replete with anecdotes, humor, and revealing profiles. What Rosen doesn't do is make the case that this team changed the NBA. Still, recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in the NBA. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Very detailed; this book has all the day to day minutiae of the full season.
Ron Cliff
I read this book as a basketball fan, and found it to be quite interesting and entertaining.
Newton Ooi
I was severely disappointed and question my own judgment of the Molinas book.
BHop

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Judd Vance on September 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a story that needs to be told, as this fabulous team is not given enough credit since their single-season victory record has been eclipsed. Unfortunately, the wrong guy is telling it.

Charley Rosen, is simply not a good writer. I had never heard of him until I read this book. Since then, I have read some of his articles on Fox Sports website, and I am more convinced that he is a lazy sportswriter, who won't look up facts and lets no truth stand in the way of his spreading his pompous erroneous ideas. No factoid is too big to ignore nor any truth too difficult to discard in his attempts to spread venom.

It is obvious quickly that Rosen is no fan of Wilt Chamberlain and worships Jerry West and Bill Sharman. Don't get me wrong, Wilt had his faults, and West was phenomenal, and Sharman should be in the hall of fame for his coaching, but I will present four passages to prove how much of a vendetta Rosen has:

Page 14 :
"Indeed, the Lakers were in firm control of the game when Chamberlain committed his fifth personal foul late in the third quarter. Coach Butch van Breda Kolff immediately sent Mel Counts, a lanky seven foot jump shooter, in for Chamberlain.
Unfortunately, one of Chamberlain's most cherished personal records was his never having fouled out of a game. So when van Breda Kolff called for Chamberlain to reenter the fray midway through the fourth quarter, the big man refused, mumbling something about an aching knee. Infuriated by Wilt's monumental selfishness, van Breda Kolff vowed to keep Chamberlain on the bench and win the game, and the championship, with Counts.
As the game raced toward the wire with the Celtics relentlessly eating into the Lakers' lead, Chamberlain approached his coach and asked to return to the action.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BHop on January 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to this book based on my enjoyment of Rosen's book on Jack Molinas (Wizard of Odds). I was severely disappointed and question my own judgment of the Molinas book. There are a staggering number of factual errors in this book that could have been corrected by thumbing through a copy of the Basketball Encyclopedia or any number of websites that include boxscores of playoff games. I wouldn't have done that but for my own recollections that were at odds with Rosen's reports. I now question whether anything in his other books is worth the paper its written on.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Tupy on March 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately the author covers some hallowed territory with the legendary 1971-72 Lakers team and plays fast and lies as he dispenses his bias against Wilt Chamberlain who was the missing ingredient who basically brought the Championship to L.A.. All the author need do is ask Jerry West if they could have won it without El Foldo, you know, the most dominating force to ever play professional basketball? Oh yeah, and somehow he attempts to grind down the truth by restating the old line that Wilt Chamberlain was a 'selfish' player. Yeah, okay, does the author realize this is the same Wilt Chamberlain who led the league in assists? The only center to ever do so IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME?! I mean to lead the league in assists in Rosen's mind is likely just Wilt being selfish again and going for personal records...even though his coach asked him to pass more that season. As for the MVP of those finals...yep, good old El Foldo himself...Rosen's writing and research is a joke and so is this book. Buy "TALL TALES" by Terry Pluto instead.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Howard Wexler on September 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off, hats off to Judd Vance for his wonderful review. My comments are similar, there are so many lazy errors in this book that it diminishes a wonderful team.

Page 1 compares the Laker-Buck series of that year to rivalries like Dodgers-Yankees, Hatfields-McCoys, Louis-Schmeling and Michigan-Michigan State.

First off, comparing two good teams that met a couple of times does not make a rivalry. Second, Michigan-Michigan State is a big rivalry? I thought it was Michigan and Ohio State.

Rosen repeats the old cliche that LA anything is style and no substance. What a schlocky and wrong stereotype. I am a born and bred New Yorker and even I think it is a stereotype.

Page 3, if the Bucks double-teamed West and Goodrich, that leaves one man to cover Hairston, McMillan and Chamberlain. Is that ridiculous?

Page 62, Chamberlain and Russell were two vastly different people off the court and on. They were good friends.

Page 247, eastern teams do not play fast-break basketball. I guess the Celtics in the 50s and 60s never ran the ball.

Page 273, the Knicks in the early 70s were not a 1-hit wonder. In 70 they won it, 71 had them in the divisional finals, 72 had them lose to Lakers in finals, 73 they were champions, with the same core team.

It is a shame that this great team received such a careless and slipshod book like this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joey Bee on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an entertaining look at the Lakers historic title run in 1972; however, it is filled with errors of fact (Neal walk a rookie in 1961?) and spelling (Dave Debusschere is a Hall of Famer - spell his name correctly)! There are more examples, and they're pretty disctracting - it's tough to see that a major publisher wouldn't do a better editorial job.
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