Tuesday, October 9, 2007

When Nothing Else Matters (Hardcover)

Category: Books
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Author: Michael Leahy

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. Fairly held because uou have sold your basketball shoes to people plunking down in excess of $100 not merely for a chance at better Ups but for a way to rub up against your aura, to feel a tiny sense of you in that admittedly silly way people feel when they wish to emulate anybody, to be inspired by your class and elegance, your morality and grace, as they've heard it told. And if some of that was artifice, then so, too, was everything you sold with your likeness on it."

Disturbing but quite true, personally, I have seen myself on many occasions wanting to "be like Mike." I've bought the shoes, worn the clothes, gotten the cards, read the books...and it is only now I realized. What about me? Leahy's book showed me that. In the years that I have been collecting "Jordan" in order to be inspired, all I needed to do in the end was look in the mirror in order to be inspired.

This is a great book that puts any not only Michael Jordan's life in perspective but also that of your own, especially if you are a Jordan fan who has collected his paraphernalia over the years.

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