An exhaustive—and exhausting—biography of the greatest player in NBA history.
Countless words have been written about Michael Jordan since his NBA debut in 1984, to which veteran sportswriter Lazenby (Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, 2010, etc.) adds this exceedingly long biography. So much of Jordan's legend—his highlight reel, his logo, his six championship rings—is old hat even to non–basketball fans, yet the author purports to examine what makes "The God of Basketball” tick. Lazenby begins with an examination of Jordan's gene pool, going back to his great-grandfather's birth in 1891, and readers can be forgiven a sense of ennui (if not dread) when he doesn't get around to Jordan's rookie NBA season until a third of the way into the book. The author strives to reveal what he calls "the many tightly clasped secrets of the Jordan legend," but does lifting the veil—and in such depth—increase fans' appreciation of his extraordinary playing career? Lazenby offers solid insight into Jordan's renowned competitive fury, and there is a well-told story of how Nike came to endorse and build a brand around a rookie who had yet to play a single minute of pro ball. He also shares how Chicago Bulls head coach Kevin Loughery saw fit to implement an "all-Jordan, all the time" offensive strategy early in Jordan's career, which let the egotistical lion out of the cage, to the consternation of teammates as well as league veterans, who found the cocksure youngster arrogant and standoffish. Fortunately, Lazenby doesn't traffic in obsequious prose; although fairly dry, the book is dutifully and objectively written. However, though the author covered Jordan's college and professional career for decades, many readers likely won't share his single-mindedness.
Studded with insights but unnecessarily long—though, given the continued aura of Jordan, likely to sell well.