Synopses & Reviews
As one of the greatest, most celebrated athletes in history, Michael Jordan conquered professional basketball as no one had before. Powered by a potent mix of charisma, nearly superhuman abilities, and a ferocious need to dominate the game, he won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and captured every basketball award and accolade conceivable before retiring and taking a top executive post with the Washington Wizards. But retirement didn't suit the man who was once king, and at the advanced age of thirty-eight Michael Jordan set out to reclaim the court that had been his dominion.
When Nothing Else Matters is the definitive account of Jordan's equally spectacular and disastrous return to basketball. Having gone on the road to chronicle Jordan's final two seasons, award-winning Washington Post writer Michael Leahy draws a riveting portrait of a deeply complex man waylaid by his impulses and impatience, frequently hampered by injuries, assaulted by younger players eager to usurp his throne, and ultimately done in by his presumption. Encouraged for two decades by his sport's magnates to believe that he had no limits or superiors, Jordan could not see his influence and power fading as his Wizards days ticked down and his team's losses and dissension grew. For teammates and outsiders alike, the star emerged as a relentlessly driven, at times unapproachable personality. Leahy reveals the striking contrast between Jordan's public image and the man who couldn't stand not bein' it.
Hell-bent on transforming the mediocre Wizards into championship contenders, Jordan controlled every facet of his new team, dispensing orders behind the scenes to coaches and players. As hisanger and bitterness over Washington's on-court setbacks became increasingly public, his teammates' resentment of him stoked already burgeoning tensions between Jordan and the Wizards' top brass. Leahy unmasks the myths and unravels the deeper lessons behind the highs and lows of the two seasons, illuminating the excruciating reality Jordan was forced to accept after the Wizards' failed playoff bid in his final season. When Nothing Else Matters is about nothing less than a man struggling to come to grips with the end of a career, and the uncertainty of his life ahead.
"A gripping behind-the-scenes book...an important corrective to our current celebrity culture." andlt;BRandgt; -- John Marshall, andlt;Iandgt;Seattle Post-Intelligencerandlt;/Iandgt;
"The best sports book of the year...easily the most fully formed portrait of Jordan ever written."andlt;BRandgt; -- andlt;Iandgt;GQandlt;/Iandgt;
-- Dan McGrath, Chicago Tribune
"Michael Leahy has written a heck of a book....Mr. Leahy combines an unrelenting eye for detail with extraordinary big-picture analysis." andlt;BRandgt; -- Jon Ward, andlt;Iandgt;The Washington Timesandlt;/Iandgt;
andlt;Iandgt;"When Nothing Else Mattersandlt;/Iandgt; gives us the best look we are likely to have of Jordan in decline...The result is a richly detailed, anecdote-driven account of one of the most famous men in the world approaching the end of his rope." andlt;BRandgt; -- Ron Rapoport, andlt;Iandgt;Chicago Sun-Timesandlt;/Iandgt;
Michael Sokolove author of The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw Leahy is that most unwelcome of characters around a pro sports team: a truth-teller. Where others were intimidated by Michael Jordan or just plain blinded by his star power, Leahy stood his ground and assembled a tough-minded, fair, and gripping account that reveals something far more interesting than Michael Jordan the icon -- he gives us Jordan, the man.
Glenn Stout series editor of The Best American Sports Writing Michael Leahy may be the first author to overcome his awe of Michael Jordan and let us see another Jordan, the legend in the autumn of his career. In this book we don't just meet a myth streaking across the sky -- we meet a very human being finally returning to earth. When Nothing Else Matters transcends its subject, for as we watch Jordan descend, we also somehow see ourselves.
Stephanie Davis, GQ,
November '04 No one's covered Michael Jordan like Michael Leahy. In 2001, Leahy a staff writer for The Washington Post, was assigned to write about the legend's return to basketball with the Washington Wizards and nearly everything he did off court as well. (At one point, Wizard coach Doug Collins refers to Leahy as a "stalker.") This obsessive reportage resulted in an acclaimed series for the Post
and is now a book, When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Last Comeback
(Simon and Schuster) -- easily the most fully formed portrait of Jordan ever written and one of the best sports books in recent memory.
If you know Jordan from those "Be Like Mike" Gatorade commercials, you are unlikely to recognize the petulant protagonist of When Nothing Else Matters. Leahy discovers an ailing star on the downward arc of his career -- "moving like a sea captain with a wooden peg for a right leg," he writes at one point. As he declines, Jordan claws at everyone around -- teammates (he calls one teammate a "faggot"), the competition (he lusts to destroy challengers like Kobe Bryant), and most of all, his employer (Wizards owner Abe Pollin). But this Jordan seldom makes the papers, because the sports media are so beholden to Earth's Most Beloved Star they dare not risk alienating him. "Around Jordan power flowed one way," Leahy writes. "Reporters were sharecroppers: They tilled him only at his pleasure."
There's plenty of gossip in When Nothing Matters -- Leahy doesn't hold back on the tales of Jordan's gambling and infidelities, and David Stern will enjoy the story of the NBA referee who allegedly set Jordan up with a girl -- but in the end, this is a far more melancholy than tawdry tale. Michael Jordan was undoubtedly the greatest basketball player of his time. It's just a shame it took us so long to find out he was a human being too.
"Riveting, myth-shattering."andlt;BRandgt; -- Dan McGrath, andlt;Iandgt;Chicago Tribuneandlt;/Iandgt;
As one of the greatest, most celebrated athletes in history, Michael Jordan conquered professional basketball as no one had before.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;As one of the greatest, most celebrated athletes in history, Michael Jordan conquered professional basketball as no one had before. Powered by a potent mix of charisma, nearly superhuman abilities, and a ferocious need to dominate the game, he won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and captured every basketball award and accolade conceivable before retiring and taking a top executive post with the Washington Wizards. But retirement didn't suit the man who was once king, and at the advanced age of thirty-eight Michael Jordan set out to reclaim the court that had been his dominion. andlt;iandgt;When Nothing Else Mattersandlt;/iandgt; is the definitive account of Jordan's equally spectacular and disastrous return to basketball. andlt;iandgt;Washington Postandlt;/iandgt; writer Michael Leahy reveals the striking contrast between the public Jordan and the man whose personal style alienated teammates and the Washington owner who ousted him.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Michael Leahyandlt;/Bandgt; is a staff writer for andlt;Iandgt;The Washington Postandlt;/Iandgt; and andlt;Iandgt;The Washington Post Magazine.andlt;/Iandgt; The recipient of numerous awards for journalistic excellence, Leahy has been honored with the selection of his stories for the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 editions of andlt;Iandgt;The Best American Sports Writingandlt;/Iandgt; anthologies. He lives outside Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
1 The Purge, May 2003
2 "Nothin' Compares to Bein' it"
3 The New World
4 When Supremacy Ends
6 Secrets and Tensions
7 The Costs of Pretending
8 Collapse -- and the End of the New Jacks
9 One More Gamble
10 "They are probably the most fragile team I've ever been around..."
11 The Backlash
12 The Romance Ends