Customer Reviews: The Jordan Rules
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HALL OF FAMEon August 29, 2002
With "The Jordan Rules," Sam Smith proves why he is one of the very best sportswriters in America. The book follows Jordan and the Bulls during their first championship season (1990-1991), before Jordan established himself as the most successful NBA player (in terms of championships) since Bill Russell. What is largely forgotten today is that in his first six years in the NBA was thought of as a selfish ballplayer who would never win a championship because he was not a "team player." Enter coach Phil Jackson, who in his first year would manage to convince his star player that in order for his team to win the championship, he would need to rely more on his teammates.
Great sports books are usually the case of the right writer (Smith in this case) being in a position to cover the right story at just the right time (Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" is another example). That is certainly the case here. As a sports reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Smith had plenty of access to the team during that first championship run, and he interviewed all of the principals extensively. Fortunately, Smith pulls no punches. The book's title refers to the preferential treatment afforded to Jordan that was a constant source of irritation to his teammmates. Then-Bulls Center Bill Cartwright, for example, is memorably qoted as saying that Jordan is, "Maybe the greatest athelete ever to play any sport...He's just not a basketball player."
Overall, "The Jordan Rules" is that rare sports book that transcends the particular sport it covers and can be enjoyed by any sports fan.
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on May 9, 2007
This is one of the great books that I had a hard time putting down. Sam Smith plays with our intrigue and wins out, enticing us to keep reading as we ask, "Did Isaiah Thomas really say that?" or "How did the Bulls stand together when at least half the team was demanding trades in 1991?"

We see them as if we were a part of the team.

*Hopson weeping after the 1991 title due to a fleeting feeling of comradely.

* Michael Jordan's off-the-court feud with Isaiah Thomas.

*Pippen demanding to be traded due to contract negotiations.

* Jerry "Crums" Krause being ridiculed publicly by Jordan and his brown-nosing cronies.

* Alliances forged through empathetic teammates who viewed the team's other pockets of faction with distrusting, and sometimes vengeful eyes.

* Cliff Levingston's constant butt-kissing of "His Airness".

* Horace Grant physically standing up to Jordan in practice and bragging about it later.

* Scottie Pippen's inward fear of Dennis Rodman.

* Phil Jackson's craving to buy a gun after a private meeting with a then-psychotic Scott Williams.

* The Pistons' mental control of B.J. Armstrong, Scottie Pippen, and others.

* Stacey King and Michael Jordan's verbal wars.

* Literal fist fights between certain players in practice.

* Jordan's constant campaign to assume control of the team's decision-making processes and how Phil Jackson combated his egocentric, and often enigmatic star.

A priviledged look into the makings of one of sports' greatest teams ever, and a eye-opening look into the makings of sports' greatest hero.
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on February 13, 2015
I read this book despite all the negative feedback about the Jordan bashing. It wasn't just bashing MJ. A lot of Bulls came off as whining brats, complaint about money and playing time. I'm not naive even to think that it doesn't happen, but this book focused on it too much. It was annoying at times. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. But, hey, I finally read it and can check it off my bucket list.
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on January 1, 2015
This is a well told story which showed the reality of professional sport's world, without of "white PR" or hagiographic "legends". GOOD but not OUTSTANDING. To tell a truth I expected the role of MJ as a HIGHLY MOTIVATED DOMINATOR and MENTAL LEADER with big EGO. But this is no MISTAKE in that situation of that team. Funny is -from my perspective - story of KING's or WILLIAMS's expectations of more playing and giving opinions about JORDAN to be selfish. Now, after twenty years after the season 1990/91 We know a litlle bit more of career of players like KING, PERDUE, CARTWRIGHT or HOPSON which were pretty poor (with respect but that's a fact). But who was MJ ? THE BEST PLAYER OF BASKETBALL HISTORY (sorry Kobe or LbJ but this is a true and nothing so far woludnt change it)
MJ maybe was sometimes selfish but to tell a truth HE WAS RIGHT looking post-BULLS careers of his teammates...

From my view - MIKE WAS RIGHT ! "CHICAGO BULLS" without Him had never became a "CHAMP".
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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.
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on April 29, 2014
I remember when I was a kid, this book was very controversial. A lot has changed since then, specifically reality TV. So the image of the book isn't what it once was. The actual narrative is a bit dated, very workmanlike. BUT there's more to this book than insight into "Mike". It's fascinating to hear the motivations of players. I never realized the importance of time on determines the the value of player, both to themselves and in trades. And the coach is the key to this access. Amazing. So come for the headlines, stay for the insights.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon February 23, 2001
Michael Jordan has transcended from the ranks of a mere athlete to a cultural icon. Between the shoes and clothing line, all the commercials, the image, the accolades, the title of ultimate champion, one can sometimes forget that before he won his first title in 1991, people viewed Mr. Jordan in a different light. He was looked at a tremendous scorer, but not a winner. People questioned whether he would tone down his scoring and become more of a team player in order to breakthrough and win a title. The name of the book comes from the Detroit Piston's rules against playing Jordan. Sam Smith was a beat reporter for the Bulls and his insights into the innerworkings of the team during their first title run in 1990-91 are revealing and entertaining. Though his views of Mr. Jordan sometimes cast him in a less than favorable light (in reading the book you get the feeling that Mr. Smith is not a big Jordan fan), what he does show is that Mr. Jordan had an intense desire to be the best at everything he does. It is this intensity that made him the greatest ever. Every fan of Michael Jordan or fan of the game of basketball should read this book as it is an interesting chapter in the career of the best ever to lace up the sneakers.
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on September 23, 2014
Good view of the backstage of the first Bulls championship. Fun to read in retrospect after all that happened afterwards. The digital edition brings an interesting afterword written more recently. At times it may become a little boring on the game by game of the regular season. It is very interesting to read the doubtful and slow transformation that Jordan has - or tries to have - from an individual to a team player, and the role that Phil Jackson had on it. Probably my main discovery was about the smart personality of Jackson, it will probably get me to "Eleven Rings".
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on April 10, 2013
Bolstered by dozens of primary sources and author experiences, this book provides a naked and often raw look into the team dynamic of the Chicago Bulls and legend of Michael Jordan during their first championship run. The intimate account is largely entertaining and light but occasionally is bogged down by the cacophony of subplots, back stories and strained metaphors.

If you have a strong interest in Michael Jordan and are willing to accept the premise that he was flawed as both a person and a teammate (blasphemy for some), then you will enjoy this book's insight and honesty.
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on January 21, 2013
I have been reading the book Jordan Rules. Jordan Rules is a book about the Chicago Bulls team over the Michael Jordan era. It gives great insight to the player widely accepted as the greatest ever, Michael Jordan. There were dark secrets revealed about him, about he was a jerk in the locker room, how he insulted his teammates and didn't pass to them. There are little stories about most of the other players, such as Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxon, John Hopson, Will Perdue, and Bill Cartwright. There are also stories about the staff, like Phil Jackson, Jerry Krause, and Billy Reinsdorf, the owner. Michael Jordan wasn't the perfect guy, he was kind of mean, none of his teammates really liked him. One of the stories that I really enjoyed was about John Paxon, on how he was the most underpaid starting point guard in the lauge, but he still somehow hung in there, deferred to Jordan and played some gritty defense. I loved this book, it is great for basketball fans of all ages.
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