Jack McCallum's outstanding ":07 Seconds or Less" chronicles a season (2005-2006) spent inside the Phoenix Suns organization. McCallum uses 40 years of journalism skills and his decades as SI's top NBA writer to give us a compelling story of the Sun's tremendous achievements last year. Beset by season-ending injuries to stalwarts Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni and his staff somehow piece together 54 victories and two already-classic 4-3 series victories against the Lakers and Clippers before simply running out of gas against the Mavs. The centerpiece of the book are the three playoff series, especially the stirring comeback from a 1-3 hole against the Lakers. There's probably 100+ pages on those games alone. Whoever made the editing decision to front-load and spotlight that material deserves an award. By starting out with that series, the book takes a two-fisted grab of your attention and never lets go.
For those curious about the title, it alludes to Coach D'Antoni's philosophy that his offense has the best chance to score if it gets a shot off within the first seven seconds of its 24-second possession. It's that philosophy that makes the Suns so exciting and refreshing to watch. McCallum and the coaching staff make the point that the NBA is, in general, over-coached and, well, flat-out boring. Let's hope more teams see the product and the results that D'Antoni is getting and sign up. [Eddie Jordan's Wizards look to be on pace this year.] I'm sure players around the league are dying to play for D'Antoni. McCallum's book can only reinforce that perception. He comes across as a good guy and a talented coach who has the respect of his players.
The one eye-opening surprise in the book is the fragility of Shawn Marion's ego and psyche. The staff has to spend a lot of time and emotional energy stroking the guy because he seems to feel slighted by, well, just about everything.
If you like basketball, you'll love this book. And there's no better team to cover than the Suns, the most exciting team in the NBA. I love the quote McCallum elicits from Lawrence Frank, coach of the Nets: "Playing the Suns is like being a passenger in a car going 75 miles an hour. When you're driving, like they are, you feel comfortable. But when you're the passenger, you feel uncomfortable. The trick is to figure out how to be the a driver. But they don't let you do that."
And that, boiled down to its essence, is what makes Mike D'Antoni a successful coach.