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

3.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743254267
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,288,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Published in 2004, author Michael Leahy shares his experiences during Michael Jordan's last comeback to the National Basketball Association.

Leahy's potrayal of Jordan showed a different side of the basketball legend which is not normally seen in the eyes of the public. Jordan, the "the most marketed player in the history of the NBA," was finally..."mortal" and did go through the same trials and tribulations (from a heightened perspective) that we all go through at some point in our lives. Leahy accounts the days wherein Jordan was at his best and would score 35 points over the span of several games to the days wherein he wasn't unstoppable and hit his career lows of 8 and 2 points respectively.

What stood out for me was Jordan's lambasting of players who didn't play up to his standards. Leahy quotes Jordan on numerous occasions wherein he would lambast teammates. Coach Fred "Tex" Winter, an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers and former assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls summed it up best, "you either work hard or Michael has no use for you."

But the one paragraph in Leahy's entire book which rocked my very foundation of emulating Michael Jordan was the following:

"His people had held him up as a man to be emulated, making Jordan more than a half-billion in endorsement dollars in the process...he had raised the bar on his behavior during 17 years of unremitting self-promotion, in campaigns approved by the Jordan camp and coordinated by Nike and other corporate sponsors that elevated him from great athlete to hero and, finally, to moral symbol.

...when you present yourself as virtuous in years of ad campaigns and TV commercials, you will be fairly held in time to that standard.
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