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Showing 1-10 of 82 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 97 reviews
on January 10, 2012
I just finished "The Last Great Game" and I enjoyed it tremendously. The story of the two greatest college basketball dynasties in America is touched on in the form of Coach K and Rick Pitino and the teams they led into one of the greatest games of all time.

Fair warning to UK fans, the Duke team is given a far more thorough and in depth examination than the Kentucky team. Now that is not to say UK is ignored or that there is a bias or the sense that Duke is more deserving, rather it could very well boil down to a case of "to the winner go the spoils" since Duke did win the game. I do think the author could have added 15-30 pages to discuss UK's team dynamic, the players, and the campus- as he did with Duke- but I suspect this might have more to do with a lack of access to the UK side rather than a lack of diligence.

For Duke fans, you might be disappointed to learn that Bobby Hurley did not fully participate in the writing of this book. Given the attention given to the contentious nature of the relationship between Hurley and Christian Laettner and Hurley's pivotal role in Duke's success, I really wanted to hear Bobby's take on his college career and the game vs. Kentucky. That being said the sections devoted to Duke are well written and very revealing, giving a great perspective on all the players, the dynamic of the team, and Coach K's influence on their success.

I am a UK fan and I hate (but respect tremendously) Duke, and aside from a few complaints, I can recommend this book to UK, Duke and college basketball fans of all stripes.

And to respond to the other review regarding Hurley's participation:

Hurley is not quoted with any detail on the following:

Being "handed the keys" to the team as a Freshman to the chagrin of the upperclassmen.
His contentious relationship with Laettner.
Needing bathroom breaks in the finals loss to UNLV due to illness.
Being labeled a whiner as a Freshman.
Playing with a broken foot in a loss during the 92 season.

I simply think his voice was largely missing in the book, especially given his pivotal role in the story.

But it's still a fantastic book that I highly recommend...just not as perfect as others would have you believe.
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on September 5, 2014
The Last Great Game is a really good recount of the one of greatest college basketball games ever played. Wojciechowski does a really good job of setting the background of this game. He goes over the major figures of the game,coaches and players and gives you all the background information you would need to know that makes this a highly interesting book. My only problem with the book is the last part of the title. The 2.1 seconds that changed basketball. He never says why this is so. Yes it was a very dramatic game. I watched it live myself. I was rooting for Kentucky but was very pleased by the effort and play of both teams. The game was played at a very high level. It is one of the best games I have ever seen even if it did have a disappointing for myself. But I don't see how it changed the game of basketball at all. If any one game did it was the 1979 final that featured Magic Johnson going against Larry Bird. IMO, College basketball became a big player on the sports stage after that game. If the author had summed up his book with his explanation of how it changed the game I would have felt better about it. But he didn't and that a small hole in the book for me. Still a fine book that any college basketball fan would enjoy.
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on October 28, 2012
The title gets in the way. While waiting for this book to arrive, I read 16 pages of reviews (at goodreads.com) and a lot of the reviewers kept puzzling over the title and how the author never tried to explain it. Kind of like Brokaw's "Greatest Generation." What, like history is over now, and no one should bother trying anymore? For all I know, the title was the publisher's idea. Ignore it, it's a great book.

I was at Duke when Krzyzewski arrived. Somebody had been making money selling t-shirts that said, "Duke: A Dynasty is Fostered," and then the quitter Foster left, and we got this new guy from Army (Army?) whose name no one could spell. One of the guys in my dorm, Vic Kucharew, wanted to make a new shirt: "Duke: a Dynasty is Krzyzewskied." Looking back, boy we really should have. I was still there when the Iron Pukes were trying to get K fired, (Note: all of your better NCAA scandals are started by boosters, people who believe their money can buy anything), and was still in Durham when Butters made his then-courageous decision to keep K on, and the last 28 years have proven how correct Butters was.

That pivotal moment is in this book, as are pivotal moments of a great many people of vision and dedication at Duke and UK: Butters, Roselle, Newton, Pitino, because this book places the game in context, as the culmination and intersection of the efforts of two now-legendary college franchises (don't let the word "university" fool you--collegiate "amateur" athletics in this country is all about money--the players may not be getting it, but someone is).

That, naturally, is the strength of this book: What put K and his squad, and Pitino and his squad on that court that day. K's and Pitino's careers, the recruitment and college careers of all of their players, how they worked together and gelled as teams. Although it spans the preceding three-plus seasons in detail, it's a gripping read; I read it almost in a single sitting, it's that good.

You get to read about UK's "Unforgettables," and this book for the first time helped me understand why UK fans love them so much: they ought to, and I do now as well. Building back from the NCAA sanctions was an almost hopeless task, but against all the odds, they did it. You also get to learn more about what was the deal with Laettner, about what drove Hurley, Davis, G & T Hill, Lang and the rest, and perhaps my favorite, the simple, touching humanity of Richie Farmer. You get to see how two great coaches like K and Pitino work with their kids, because success at this level is ungodly hard. It's love, tough love, and sadistic fury a lot of the time, and the kids put up with it (or, in Laettner's case, assist with it) because they know it is to help them be their best, and only their best will do, at least if they want to be remembered 20 years later, like these kids are.

One of the things about championship sports is that at the end of the season, every team but one ends as losers, and there's something perverse and wrong about that. (There's something perverse and wrong about a lot of college hoops, from the death threats that Butters received above, to my hearing what I thought had been perfectly sane Kentuckians say that Pitino deserved to be killed when he came back to "The Commonwealth" to coach UofL.) Books like this highlight the fact that although the Unforgettables' season ended with a losing game, that was not the real story. The Unforgettables were winners, and those around them, from their own Newton, to K, to the author of this book, did what they could to make that clear.

Obviously Duke fans and alums will love this book, and it does spend a little more time on Duke than it does on UK, because K's story started a little longer before this game, and the Devils season ran a couple more games after it. But will UK fans love it as well? Honestly, I can't speak for a UK fan. As a Duke grad living in "The Commonwealth," I can tell you that wearing a Duke shirt will introduce you to a lot of enemies you never knew you had, and if you have a nice car, don't put a Duke sticker on it. And I swear a lot of people around here have a movie of the 2.1 seconds tattooed to the inside of their eyelids, and they see it again every time they close their eyes. But, based on those 16 pages of reviews I mentioned earlier, it appears that UK fans love this book, and dearly appreciate the loving attention it places on the UK team. And speaking for myself, I know that I came away very moved by their story, and wishing, like Butters and Newton, that this time instead of a Final Four, it could have been a Final Five (page 235, it's not in the index).

I'd be curious if anyone ever wrote a book or an article about the Iron Pukes clamoring for K to be fired back in 1983-4. What do they have to say about their opposition to Krzyzewski today? Like rich jerks who believe that everything has a price in dollars, they've probably found a way to claim credit for K's career. This book reminds us that, while everything in life does have a price, it's not in dollars.
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on April 5, 2017
Being a Duke graduate, I was on the right side of this one. However, if we had lost, I would still think that it was one of best, if not the best game ever played. It didn't hurt that my tickets to the final four were riding on the outcome. I've been to the final four twice, in 1992 and 2015, and have seen my team win both times. Priceless!
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on April 28, 2017
I had the good fortune to have been at that game and will never forget it. Learning all of that background information about each program in the few years before the game as well as the young men who played in that game was a terrific read. Thanks
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on May 20, 2012
I am a slow reader and, as a Kentucky graduate, I found myself reading this book more slowly than I do most others. The reason is probably pretty obvious, as the result of the game is not a happy one for UK fans. This is a good book and worth reading for college basketball fans. It really opened up my eyes to the excruciating practices and conditioning programs that the players go through. Wojchiechowski does a superb job conveying the interactions between players on their own teams and on the opponents' teams as well.

Of course the title is overstated. It wasn't the "Last Great Game" and "The 2.1 Seconds" didn't change college basketball in the way the words seem to imply. But it was a great game, an exciting game, and an unforgettable one, especially so for those of us who watched it. Wojchiechowski does a great job relating much information that I was not aware of and enjoyed learning about. I learned more about Christian Laettner than I ever wanted to know; it is clear why his teammates referred to him as "A**hole." I wish Wojchiechowski had told us more about Kentucky's Sean Woods, who made the unbelievable floater that easily could have been the unforgettable shot instead of Laettner's buzzer-beater. Also, I'm still wondering how C.M. Newton got Eddie Sutton to resign as the UK coach as he never tells us how it came to pass. Those things said, I strongly recommend the book.
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on April 24, 2013
First of all, I am a Duke basketball fan. I remember watching that game and commenting to my husband that many, many travel agents were tearing their hair out as the game went first one way and then the other. I've often heard people say no one should have lost an athletic event but this is really true about this one. My opinion about the book is that I learned many new things about the teams, coaches, and players on both sides that I had not known before. And remember I said I was a Duke fan. It was interesting to go from featuring one team or coach or player in one chapter and then to change to the other side for the next chapter. Test of a good book for me is if I want to read it again - much like I want to watch the game(s) again. And I do for this book and this game. Thank you for writing it.
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on April 28, 2012
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's not just about the game but it's also about the four years that led up to it along with some interesting stories about each of the important people that made that game so great.

I went to Duke and graduated in 1982. I lived in New York City and had Duke Season Tickets during the years discussed in this book. I also had Knick Season tickets including the years Pitino was coaching the Knicks and there were so many interesting behind the scene stories that someone who followed both teams religiously never knew. Along with those stories you're able to relive the four greatest years of Duke Basketball in a nice easy read.

If you're a Kenucky fan I have to imagine you'll love this book too but I'd read reviews of some UK fans first.

When I purchased the book I was hoping to get a little more insight into the game and this book did that.
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on April 29, 2013
The book provides much more that just a detailed description of those last 2.1 seconds (which I watched live). It provides many more details about the players who were the participants in those 2.1 seconds, and how and why they were there in the first place. It provides details on the coaches and how they achieved the positions tthey had on that day. Having being born and raised in Durham and my Father teaching Engineering at Duke (his office at one time was on the first floor of Cameron Stadium); graduating from Duke; playing midget basketball games on the Duke court at halftime; watching Dick Groat score 48 points against UNC; and the fact that Duke won; all make the book more interesting to me than most readers.

Howard Haines
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on October 22, 2012
This is really a fun read for any fan of college basketball. The author follows a familiar but enjoyable formula. (See Adam Lucas'THE BEST GAME EVER about the 1957 triple OT national championship game between North Carolina and Kansas) In this case the game is the titanic 1992 NCAA tournament game between Duke and Kentucky and Wojciechowski uses the game as a springboard for brief biographies of the coaches--Mike Krzyzewski of the Blue Devils and Rick Pitino of the Wildcats--and then goes on to examine the recruitment and personalities of the players on each team. The sections of the complex relationship between Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley of Duke and the story of the four seniors who stuck it out at Kentucky in the wake of a major scandal are particularly interesting.

Then comes a detailed discussion of the season and finally the story of the game itself, which ended in one of the most memorable shots in the history of college basketball. The book reflects the very best of college athletics--praise for the winners and respect for the losers along with the passion and drama that only sports can offer. But along with a wonderful sense of nostalgic fun, the book leaves the reader longing for the days when the rosters of great college basketball teams were filled with talented juniors and seniors in the era before the dark days of "one and done."
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