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Last Season [Hardcover]

Phil Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct. 21 2004

Nine-time NBA Champion coach Phil Jackson knows all about being in the spotlight—about high-profile, high-pressure seasons coaching gigantic personalities through adversity and controversy in the middle of a media hothouse in which every move is another headline, another installment in the soap opera. But nothing—not six championships with the Bulls of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, not three previous championships with the Lakers of Shaq and Kobe—had quite prepared him for the only-in-Hollywood high-wire act of the Lakers’ 2003-2004 season.

In The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul, Jackson tells the full inside story of the season that proved to be the final ride of this great Lakers dynasty. From its beginnings in the off-season—with the signing of the future Hall-of-Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton and the enormous expectations it created, and the bombshell news of the felony sexual-assault charges against Kobe Bryant, one of the league’s marquee superstars—Jackson describes the many challenges that arose during this turbulent season. Juggling enormous egos with enormous sums at stake, managing difficult relationships and public feuds, facing injuries, contract disputes, and team meltdowns, all in the shadow of the Kobe Bryant trial-slash-media circus, Phil Jackson somehow guided his team through to its 4 NBA Finals in his five years as its coach. There, finally, his team ran out of road, a failure Jackson examines with the same deep honesty and wisdom he brings to bear on the rest of this amazing season.

Few seasons in memory can rival this one for drama, and fewer coaches rival Phil Jackson in the ability to write about it with such wisdom and clarity. The combination has produced, in The Last Season, a book of tremendous human drama and timeless appeal, rich in lessons about coaching and about life.


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From Publishers Weekly

Jackson’s chronicle of his final season as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers moves as crisply as a well-executed fast break. Under his direction, the Lakers won three NBA titles, but failed to reach the championship round in 2003. Determined to make another run at the finals in the 2003–2004 season, the Lakers added Hall of Fame players Karl Malone and Gary Payton to a team that already featured superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. But instead of producing another ring, the Lakers were crushed in the finals by the Detroit Pistons. That the Lakers even reached the last round of the playoffs was a feat given the turmoil that surrounded the team (involving the animosity between Shaq and Bryant, and Bryant’s rape charge). Jackson briefly critiques the Lakers’ biggest games of the regular season and analyzes each playoff performance, providing fresh insight without boring readers with play-by-play accounts. He peppers the narrative with pungent observations of his stars—and it’s no surprise that he saves his sharpest criticisms for Bryant. While Shaq could be difficult to deal with, Jackson contends, he was ultimately a team player. And although Shaq and Bryant reached a truce in the season’s final months, Jackson sees Bryant as the epitome of today’s selfish player, a "callous gun for hire."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Phil Jackson is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA. In his fourteen seasons as a head coach, he is 832-316, the best winning record in NBA history. He also holds NBA coaching records for most playoff wins and playoff winning percentage. Prior to coaching, he played thirteen years in the NBA, primarily with the New York Knicks. He is also the author of Maverick, Sacred Hoops, and, with his friend Charley Rosen, More Than a Game.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read! June 10 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Absolutely fantastic book! A great look into the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers, highly recommended for all basketball/NBA fans!

By the way, I'm a big Kobe fan and the negative things said about him are overblown in reviews/excerpts of the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  110 reviews
62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful insights into the Lakers demise Oct. 21 2004
By Michael Erisman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you were one of the many who believed that when the Lakers put 4 future Hall of Fame players on the court they would certainly win a championship, then this book goes a long to describing why a team of basketball players with less talent beat them decisively.

Phil opens up on the behind the scenes squabbles, pettiness and egos so large they simply defy explanation. In one example, Kobe Bryant is offered the use of a plane by the Lakers to make his trips back to a Colorado courtroom for his alleged rape trial, and instead of being grateful for the support his team is giving him financially, is mad because he thought he deserved a bigger plane.

The book is full of the insights into the battles between Kobe and Shaq. Imagine two first graders with 100 million dollars each and you start to get close to the level of professionalism and emotional maturity. It is often funny, often sad, and usually just shocking.

The book is written very well, a breeze to read through, and a fascinating tale of psychological narcissism gone wild. I recommend highly for fans of the NBA, or just anyone who is interested in team dynamics. It will also explain why the Lakers got beat so easily by a team with far less talent. A lesson to leaders in organizations everywhere.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective, shocking and a fun read Oct. 25 2004
By Matthieu P. Raillard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I agree with previous reviewers in that truly insightful books on the NBA (or other sports) tend to be few and far between. The reason, one can suspect, is that everyone wants to cover their behinds, protect their endorsement dollars and preserve any chance of being hired again. This is what makes Phil's book so interesting and entertaining to read. His account of what transpired behind the scenes of the Lakers' fabled season is at times shocking (the immaturity of certain players/coaches/agents is staggering), at times funny, and always honest. Phil has a disarmingly serene style, and his words feel measured yet honest and never manipulative. He is mature enough to put the blame on himself at times, and his candor is in contrast with the 'he said/she said' going on with the Lakers. I know that for many people the Lakers were the Evil Empire, the Yankees of basketball, but I would recommend this work to anyone with a love for basketball, and also anybody who thinks they know how things are behind the scenes. Good stuff.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PHIL TELLS ALL OF WHY LAKERS FAILED! Oct. 22 2004
By Tim Janson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
On one hand, after reading this book one can only marvel at the fact that the Lakers even made it to the NBA finals this past year. On the other hand, it's also quite evident why the Lakers failed and ultimately were broken up.

Former Coach Phil Jackson let's loose both barrels squarely aimed at troubled star Kobe Bryant.

He details the pettiness involved in the constant battles with Shaq and Kobe. About how Kobe complained about the quality of the jet which flew Kobe from his courtroom appearances in Colorado back to LA.

Phil documents how he had wanted to trade Kobe as long ago as the 2000 season but was denied by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, in whose eyes Kobe can do no wrong.

Phil documents how he comlained to GM Mitch Kupchack that he could no longer coach Kobe but his hands were tied and it was at that point that Phil knew he would not return for the 2004-2005 season.

Ultimately the house of cards came crumbling down in the NBA finals against the Detroit Pistons. Another person argued that the Pistons were not as talented...a fact that I whole-heartedly disagree with.

The Lakers certainly had the two best players...but the best TEAM was the Pistons. A team that worked harder, and a team with underrated but up and coming stars that was too quick, too resilient for the aging Lakers to deal with.

Quite a read!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freakin Awesome Dec 9 2004
By M. Lyons - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
OHHHHHH Man!!!!! This was unbelievable! Having been a die hard Laker fan for monst of my life and having followed the Last season of the "Dream Team" every second, it was great to get an inside perspective on what was really going on this year. I have wanted for such a long time, i figured it would only be when he retired, to be able to get into Phil's head. How the mind of the most brilliant basketball coach on the planet works. I never understood his lack of emotion. I understand things soo much better and my respect for Phil Jackson has risen to new levels. Phil was a coach of character. He did not coach in a way that was compromising to what's popular or what everyone else is doing but what he believed to be best for his team. He tried to bring out the best in all of his players and was often disappointed if a player was not playing up to his potential. I've also come to another major conclusion. There doesn't seem to be any sense of Integrity in the Lakers management. I have new opinions of Kobe Bryant as well. It is just sad to see that what could have been maybe anywhere from 6 to 10 championships...even before the other two hall of famers came, if they would have just put there pride aside and play as a unit. Detroit spanked them with a lesson I hope we all never forget. The best "Team" wins. This was soo awesome to be able to read behind the scenes of the games talked about in the book. I watched everyone including the pre-season games and it was just sweet to read more of the story. I bet Phil will be back coaching someday.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Down The Wall Oct. 23 2004
By Thomas J. Kouns - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As an avid NBA fan, I have found it very difficult to find books that give deeper insight into the game. Most NBA biographies use supericial facts and quotes to tell a generic story but never get to the deeper issues and conflicts that occur in all NBA locker rooms. In many ways, much of what goes on in the NBA is careully guarded. This book breaks that barrier with a colorful and often painful look into the championship Lakers.

I couldn't put the book down. Jackson paints a telling picture of the dysfunctional Lakers and the tactics today's NBA coach must employ to get glorified adulated millionaires to play as a "we" and not and "I." What I like most about Jackson's accounting is that he doesn't seek to use this book as a PR piece for himself but rather as a release of the tremendous pressure he endured and the conflicts that it created within himself.

I found it highly interesting and revealing that this book has had a tremendous backlash from the sports establishment. Obviously, they are afraid this book takes some of the shine off the league. In my estimation though, it gets to the heart of what we find most interesting about pro-sports - the emotions, turmoil and conflicts of humans existing in a surreal environment. Jackson himself remarks that pro-basketball is of little consequence in the bigger picture of life.

Jackson's interactions with Kobe Bryant are fascinating as are his beliefs as to what is at the center of Bryant's own inner conflicts. I've admired Jackson for years for his ability to defy conventionality in order to acheive extraordinary success. The very fact that a book of this nature was actually published again demonstrates his ability to break down long-standing barries/status quos within the NBA establishment.

A must read for die-hard NBA fans.
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