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When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Last Comeback Hardcover – November 2, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1ST edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743254267
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #966,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After serving as president and part owner of the Washington Wizards for two years, Jordan, bored by his executive duties and frustrated by the team's poor play, returned to the court in 2001 in a bid to revitalize the struggling basketball franchise. But the aging superstar's attempt to resurrect the team flopped as the Wizards failed to make the playoffs in either of Jordan's two playing seasons. While the highs and lows of Jordan's comeback are known to most basketball fans, Leahy, a Washington Post feature writer who covered Jordan's return, offers an in-depth look at the inner turmoil that plagued the Jordan-led Wizards. In a smartly written, often angry work that is as much a sports story as a psychology study and condemnation of the media that built up the Jordan myth, Leahy not only documents Jordan's performance on the floor, but examines what motivated him to play despite serious knee problems. Leahy also deals with the role sportswriters (he makes it clear he isn't one) play in building America's athletes into godlike characters, a practice he abhors. Leahy has no use for idol worship and casts all three of the book's main figures—Jordan, coach Doug Collins and majority owner Abe Pollin—in unfavorable lights. This engaging read is marred by one flaw: Leahy's tendency to insert himself into the story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Michael Jordan may have been the greatest basketball player ever to lace 'em up, but he has not always been a likable man. At 38, three years retired from his championship run in Chicago, Jordan was serving as president of the Washington Wizards when he decided to join the team as a player. Washington Post staffer Leahy observed it all, from the triumphs--now and then MJ did seem to be an ageless wonder--to the very ugly moments of humiliated coaches and teammates who did not measure up to Jordan's personal standard of excellence and acquiescence. This is not a pretty portrayal of Jordan, but it is consistent with the assessment of his strengths and weaknesses offered by Sam Smith in The Jordan Rules (1991). If anything, this account is tinged with melancholy in its portrayal of the alpha male finally being exiled from the herd. This is an intelligent, persuasively written account of an athlete who remains one of our most recognizable celebrities. Expect the phone lines to be buzzing on the sports talk shows. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I rate it as one of the top 50 books I've read over the last 27 years.
Amazon Customer
This book should have been entitled "When Nothing Else Matters... But ME Michael Leahy, The Latest Sportswriter Attempting to Cash in on Michael Jordan".
James A. Christian
You get the feel that he was shooting down a hero to earth because people "worship" him too much, blindly at that too.
G. A. Co

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Kouns on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a groundbreaking book in many respects. I am an ardent NBA fan but have found it nearly impossible to find 'real' biographies on the real goings-on in NBA locker rooms. I believe most sportswriters are either afraid to anger their sources (many examples of that in this book) or lack the journalistic know how to do in-depth reporting.

I thouroughly enjoyed the book. It paints a detailed picture of an NBA locker room and the dysfunctionalities that go on. I came away with a very clear picture of Jordan as a sad figure in a sense who is self-absorbed, immature and really has little understanding of life beyond the small and plastic world he inhabits. I actually felt somewhat sorry for him by the end of the book. The portrait came as no suprise given the surreal environment and idolic treatment these athletes (who in the big picture put a ball through a hoop for a living though God bless em for it) receive at a very early age. You can't really blame Jordan as he is a product of his stilted environment. On the other hand, it makes those ads and "Be Like Mike' endorsements ring hollow and ironic.

The book is also an interesting study on how fans need athletes to validate themselves. From the Wizards minority owner who basically buys Jordan's aquantance for a piece of his stake in the franchise to the reporters who feel privilaged to ask Jordan a 'staged' question even if they aren't doing any real reporting. To the Wizards (Collins)coach who is so enamored of Jordan that he is afraid to make a move without his approval to the detriment of the team.

This is a book for true NBA or Jordan followers or those interested in the distorted relationship between pro athletes and their fans. I have a lot of respect for this author for daring to accurately report a man-God.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Otherone on January 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am glad to see this book has already generated a good deal of buzz and reviews. I lived in the DC area during the "Jordan Era" both his management of and play for, the Wizards, and I must say (and perhaps I am biased) that this book is a mostly accurate reflection of what many of us suspected about MJ when he came to town. To wit: (1) He had little/no respect for owner Abe Pollin; (2) He installed flunkies in senior management positions, ostensibly to do the scouting, negotiating, etc he apparently was uninterested in doing; (3) His "return" was one part attempt to restore "buzz" around his name and brand and a second part an attempt to whitewash/hide his shortcomings as an executive by pulling the team to near .500; (4) As soon as he retired, Pollin shivved him and showed him the door.

In short, there are no "winners" or "good guys" in this story, indeed, everyone comes out looking badly. Jordan is portrayed as a distant, arrogant, demeaning teammate who put his own self interest ahead of his team, even as he was holding the Coach's puppet strings and using the media to communicate not-so-thinly veiled threats at the very people he signed/drafted. Pollin comes across as a money-hungry owner who used Jordan to sell tickets and then tossed him overboard roughly 3.5 seconds after his final game. Ultimately, the relationship was one where both parties were USING the other, there was no trust, no sense of team, no sense of "we're all in this together", so why should be be surprised it blew up so quickly.

Leahy has received some heat in other reviews for injecting bias and/or reflecting his own opinion, but hey, THAT'S HIS JOB. He's providing an angle, an opinion, it's his book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bill Ryan on November 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the finest book I've ever read on Michael Jordan. It is one of the best sports books written in many years, I think. What Michael Leahy has done so magnificently is wipe away the stardust from our eyes and enable to see what the Jordan comeback meant to the star, a city and a struggling team. It is sympathetic in parts, and tough in parts. It is unflinchingly honest and brilliantly written. The way he writes about basketball games was reason alone for me to devour the book. The writing is so vivid and powerful. And I thought I was seeing Jordan for the first time. I finished the book thinking I finally understood the measure of his psyche, and the pressures bearing on him, and the stresses felt by his teammates and others who seemed to chafe under his incessant demands that they either win or satisfy his other demands. Leahy does an outstanding job of putting the media under the microscope too, which was pretty eye-opening, with his point clearly being that the media in many cases gave Jordan flattering publicity in exchange for the hope that they might receive special access to him. The portrait here of everything in the two seasons is gripping. One of my favorite parts was reading of the day-to-day interaction of Jordan with his teammates and coaches, the preparing for games, the pressures building, the teammates deferring, the coach's anxiety wrenching and impossible to conceal. Some of his young teammates seem like terrific guys, caught up in a difficult situation that had them reeling. The story is so compelling and wonderfully told that I found myself feeling sympathy for all of them. They seem so boxed in, especially Jordan.Read more ›
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