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When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Last Comeback Paperback – November 1, 2005
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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But I liked Leahy's book for other reasons as well. Most sports books recite the stats but fail to delineate how the player did it. But Leahy describes Jordan's play. How he got his points and how he got stuffed. I got the feeling after reading many sports bios in the last few years that the writers were quite unable to describe how their subject did it. But Leahy knows the game and was able to relate the levels of skill and talent exhibited by pro players necessary to make it in the NBA. It's an unflinching, candid look at certainly one of the greatest athletes to ever play any sport and maybe the greatest basketball player ever. Leahy does his job knowing that his subject would freeze him out. Which gives Leahy a level of integrity far above the usual posterior smoochers in the press. I doubt this book will hurt Jordan's reputation too much. When he was a star he was known for his arrogance, egotism and nastiness. His level of superstardom protected him from the usual criticism leveled at most superstars when people find out they've feet of clay. But it is refreshing to know that not every sportswriter falls victim to the phony love phrases about their subject often offered by scribblers. This overall unflattering look at Jordan (and some of his sycophants in the media like Michael Wilbon) is an excellent antidote to all paeans of praise generally written about very human athletes.
Such is the tale provided by Michael Leahy in this definitive work on Michael Jordan's comeback with the Wizards. The account provides details from Jordan's start as an executive to his comeback and to his eventual firing (not unexpected as it first seemed).
Interesting details abound in this book in contrast to the droning sound bites found in newspapers who seem quite reluctant to call out the naked emperor. Examples include the true extent of Jordan's tendinitis, the effect of Jordan's injury to his right index finger plus Phil Jackson's thoughts on the comeback. Also, Leahy provides quite a convincing critique not only on Jordan the player but on Jordan the playing executive as well.
My only problem with this book is that it tends to get repetitive at times - Pollin's firing of Jordan and the Karla Knafel story is retold more than once. However, it stands on its own in chronicling Jordan's days as a Wizard which luckily for Jordan will always remain a footnote to an otherwise marvelous career.
Most of us would have considered that jump shot at Salt Lake City the highlight of our lives, but then again Mike still has more than half of his life to live.
Fascinating look into the daily life of the world's greatest basketball player trying to wring what was left of his fading skills.
If I have a criticism - the book seems to bash Jordan for tainting his legacy. In my opinion, it's Jordan's legacy to taint.