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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Mac!
This book is so much fun to read. McEnroe is a unique individual. He is incredibly arrogant, neurotic, rude, self centered, and narcissic. He is also insightful, brilliant, artistic. He understands the game like few others. He also plays the game like few others. It all comes through perfectly well in this biography. Nothing in this book was surprising. It was all...
Published on May 28 2003 by Gaetan Lion

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars John McEnroe: Bad Boy of Professional Tennis
John McEnroe is one of the all- time greats in the game of tennis. Bursting on the scene in the late 1970's, McEnroe brought a new dimension to the sport. He relives some of his greatest sports moments in this book, "You Cannot be Serious".
McEnroe was known for his legendary temper, and he explains to readers how he got this way and why he continued to blow his top...
Published on July 14 2004 by Bryan Carey


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3.0 out of 5 stars John McEnroe: Bad Boy of Professional Tennis, July 14 2004
By 
Bryan Carey "Bryan Carey" (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
John McEnroe is one of the all- time greats in the game of tennis. Bursting on the scene in the late 1970's, McEnroe brought a new dimension to the sport. He relives some of his greatest sports moments in this book, "You Cannot be Serious".
McEnroe was known for his legendary temper, and he explains to readers how he got this way and why he continued to blow his top from time to time. He admits, in retrospect, that he went too far more than once, but he stops short of completely apologizing for his on- court antics. Among other reasons, he points out that the promoters of professional tennis quietly encouraged his behavior. They didn't necessarily think it was the best way to act, but they also knew that McEnroe's bad boy image helped increase the popularity of the sport.
McEnroe talks about more than just tennis in this book. He also covers his tumultuous marriage with actress Tatum O'Neil; his encounters with rock and roll superstars; his second marriage to pop singer Patty Smythe; and his present- day occupation as a tennis announcer and commentator. McEnroe lays his heart on the line in this book, letting the reader know exactly how he felt about different players in the game and the women in his life.
Even though I like John McEnroe, both the man and the player, there are a few negative points to make about this book. First of all, there's the editing job by James Kaplan. There are some poorly- worded sentences throughout the pages and there are too many exclamation marks and colons in places where they are not necessary. Second, McEnroe's ego could be hard for some readers to stomach. He brags on himself and always seems to have an excuse to explain why he lost certain key matches.
Overall, this is still a fun book to read, in spite of its flaws. It could have been better with some more thought and effort, but it still makes for an enjoyable read. McEnroe lets you know exactly how he feels about the sport of tennis, the various personalities involved, and his own personal relationships. He's very serious, and he wants you to understand where he is coming from and where he is going.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Candid, informative and almost five stars...., May 20 2004
By 
T. Bundrick "Tboom49" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
I am a HUGE tennis fan. My tennis memories stretch back to seeing Rod Laver (one of McEnroe's idols) battle Ken Rosewall. Growing up I often played tennis during the summer at a local park. I continue to play today and I go to the US Open for a couple of daytime matches every year. I don't watch tennis on TV the way I once did. During the late 70's and early eighties, anytime Borg or McEnroe were playing a match, against each other or against other opponents, I made sure to watch the event. My allegiance was originally with Borg, because of his speed covering the baseline, his two-handed backhand, his european background, and his quiet dignity. No one ever played the baseline like Borg. All McEnroe did was change the way tennis was played. He combined foot speed (which he credits to playing soccer), hand speed, hand-eye coordination, with the best serve and volley game in tennis. This made him virtually unstoppable when he was in the zone. In terms of pure tennis skill, no one else came close to McEnroe during his prime. Because he was left-handed, his first serve, which angled almost into the stands on some occasions, drew opposing players very far off the actual playing court. IF they were able to return his serve, McEnroe would simply rush the net,pick and choose where the ball would go in the open court, and either volley, half volley, or drop volley the ball to a wide open court.Fortunately, McEnroe does credit many people along the way with helping him improve his game. However, he was hampered by so many emotional problems I found it difficult to watch him. McEnroe talks about his problems during this period. His family, in particular his father, was a source of tremendous conflict for McEnroe. Borg was his alter-ego because of his ability to move laterally and horizontally with cat-like quickness. Together they played some of the finest tennis matches ever seen. McEnroe talks quite movingly about his experiences with Borg, his Davis Cup appearances, and other tennis-related aspects of his life. In 1985 I stayed up until four o'clock in the morning to watch Johnny Mac and Peter Fleming play against Guillermo Vilas in Davis Cup. It was the GREATEST doubles match I have ever witnessed, and one of the greatest sporting events I have ever seen on TV. They played in front of an Argentine crowd which was so anti-American and anti-McEnroe, I thought there would be a riot during the match. But Mac and Fleming were victorious. Afterwards, McEnroe and Fleming were interviewed on TV while they drank Heinekens. How many TV interviews have you seen where the athlete is drinking a beer? Say what you will about his behavior, he remains an individual in professional tennis. He is filled with conflicts which he discusses at length. He played Davis Cup for his country whenever he was asked, yet he exhibited behavior on the court which gave new life to the phrase "ugly american".
I have not always been a big McEnroe supporter. I thought tennis was a game where your emotions were kept in reserve while you battled your opponent, akin to chess. For that reason, and others, I never really enjoyed the theatrical aspect of McEnroe, or Connors, or Nastase throwing fits on the court. Give me a five match epic without much histrionics thrown in, and I am a happy camper.I still dislike Connors and Nastase, and after reading this book, my impressions are unlikely to change. In this book Connors comes across as self-absorbed, opportunistic, and somewhat dull away from the tennis court. McEnroe openly discusses his family, tennis, even the impact of 9/11/01. He is forthcoming about his problems, and displays a fairly high level of awareness than other athlete-turned-authors. The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is because I had just finished reading a biography of Vince Lombardi, written by David Maranis. The Lombardi bio is quite possibly the best sports bio I have ever read. This one is very good, but it pales somewhat next to the work of a seasoned journalist like Maranis. If you are a tennis fan, or a fan of Johnny Mac then you should find this book very appealing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You cannot be serious!!!, Oct. 20 2003
By 
Chris Salzer (Gainesville, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
If you call yourself a tennis enthusiast, suffice to say you're not one in my book if you haven't read You Cannot Be Serious. The always irreverent Johnny Mac takes the reader behind the scenes of his meteoric and sudden rise to the top of the tennis world as a teenager as well as his difficult, if not tumultuous, ride down when he was married to Tatum O'Neal. McEnroe recounts many amusing anecdotes from his tennis days that make for an entertaining read. He tells the stories behing his not so secret disdain for the enigmatic Jimmy Connors(beginning with Connors' refusal to shake his hand prior to their first Wimbledon meeting in 1977 when McEnroe was an 18 year-old unseeded juniors player).
McEnroe reveals his propensity for smoking marijuana during his self-imposed hiatus from tennis in the mid 80's, the wild partying with the amiable Vitas Gerulaitis, the mutual camaraderie, unparalleled competition, and respect, of his nemesis and friend Bjorn Borg, the infamous longstanding feud with Connors, and his passion for, and unprecedented success, with Davis Cup. Johnny Mac tells of an offer of $1 Million from Donald Trump to play Venus that Venus turned down based on the somewhat dubious claim that she didn't want to play "an old man." McEnroe, ever the competitor, tells of his anger over Steffi's notorious default of their Wimbledon mixed doubles semi that left him calling her a rather choice name(female dog is a hint) in the locker room - strangely enough in the company of her future hubby Andre Agassi and his then coach Brad Gilbert. Good stuff.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly affective read, Aug. 20 2003
By 
J. F Malysiak "macafferty" (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
Better than I expected...McEnroe discusses his life on and off the tennis courts with a surprising candidness that is always engaging. His memoir is entertaining, somewhat insightful, and a must-read for anyone who enjoys the sport of tennis, admires McEnroe's skill both as a player and most recently as a commentator, or wants an inside peek of what went on in those halcyon days of the '70s and '80s when tennis was really at its peak.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, brings back some great memories, July 22 2003
By 
Jeffrey Roberts (Long Island, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
Tennis at it's peak....Great book, Now I remember all those incidents....Being a huge tennis fan, I found this fun to read and it actually motivated me to play better....
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3.0 out of 5 stars The real John McEnroe, June 24 2003
By 
Steve Geringer (New Haven, CT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Paperback)
Before I read this book, I just considered McEnroe a loudmouth tennis player who happened to have a very public divorce with a washed-up actress. However, after reading this book, I came to appreciate McEnroe much more than I would have imagined. I never knew how well he ranked professionaly and the intricacies within the tennis tour. McEnroe is very honest in his book, admitting his faults as well as telling stories (good and bad) about fellow players on the tour - Agassi, Connors, Natase, Sampras, Williams Sisters, etc. After reading this book, I understand McEnroe better and have even grown to like him. If you like sports biographies that are up-front and honest, this book is for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Mac!, May 28 2003
By 
Gaetan Lion - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Hardcover)
This book is so much fun to read. McEnroe is a unique individual. He is incredibly arrogant, neurotic, rude, self centered, and narcissic. He is also insightful, brilliant, artistic. He understands the game like few others. He also plays the game like few others. It all comes through perfectly well in this biography. Nothing in this book was surprising. It was all expectable Mac in your face stuff. And, it was so much fun.
On a more serious tone, Mac has a lot of smart wisdom to impart about the game, and the game's direction. He makes a lot of recommendation that make a lot of sense, but unfortunately are utopic. The most noteworthy of them, is that tennis should go back to wood racquets. I fully agree. Mac feels that the character of the game, and the associated skill requirement completely changed after that.
I don't know if anyone remembers the artistic, versatile styles of Adriano Panata, Ilie Nastase, Tom Okker, Manuel Santana. They all played with wood racquets. Their style of finesse and unpredictability is gone from the game. John McEnroe also emulated that style. Today, our only hope is Roger Federer who shows the versatility and talent of the past. Unfortunately, he rarely passes the first round in any Gran Slam tournaments, and gets worn down by some anonymous grunter.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Mac the Diplomat, May 23 2003
This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Hardcover)
I consider John McEnroe to be the finest announcer in all of sport. His insights are keen; his humor at once good natured and dry; his enthusiasm contagious. Why James Kaplan elected to dilute Mac at his best I don't know. It could be, of course, that Mac himself is too blame. This autobio suggests, though, that while Mac would recognize that he might deserve such blame, his bluntness in such an admission should not be mistaken for his own allegiance to the position. In other words, he _suggests_ blame as an option, while at once offering more self-serving possibilities. The result of his repeated such strategy is a book that reads most obliquely. Somehow, Mac's obliqueness is not what I most wanted, or expected, from this far-too-cautious (political?) treatment. That he refuses to name drop (when it matters) and that he is downright elusive in terms of his own articulation of his own vices might be admirable--the busy reader may indeed deserve nothing more. But when combined with his failure to nail down his own positions regarding the very center of the book--himself--the result is evasive at best, and elitist or exclusive at worst. I opened the book ready to love Mac all the more having read it: In large part I expected to celebrate--truly celebrate--his mistakes, his faults, his shortcomings. Instead, I felt as if I was betrayed--locked out of any sense of who he really is. I could be wrong--he could, really, be the sort of guy who pulls punches, gives equal weight to contrary positions, and worries most about (a shallow) diplomacy. But I still doubt it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Better - Could Have Been Worse, Feb. 14 2003
By 
John Standiford (Cypress, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Hardcover)
When I listen to John McEnroe as a tennis commentator I often wish that other former athletes were as candid and insightful as he is. I figured that his autobiography might provide similar insight and entertainment. I can't say that the book succeeds in this regard but it is still rather interesting and entertaining.
The quick summary is that McEnroe grew up in a comfortable environment as a child and was able to transform tennis talent into a life of celebrity and athletic greatness. He's bright and articulate but also rather shallow, extremely sensitive, somewhat self-centered, but has generally decent intentions.
For tennis fans and fans of McEnroe's, the book provides a nice recounting of his tennis career. I especially enjoyed reading about his personal impressions of some of his opponents including his disdain for Jimmy Connors, his relationship with doubles partner Peter Fleming and his strange respect and awe of Bjorn Borg.
The problem I have with the book is that in attempting to reveal his personal life with Tatum O'Neal and his current wife Patty Smyth, he doesn't do himself any favors in terms of image. He also doesn't reveal much about himself. In contrast we know how screwed up (in his mind) that Tatum O'Neal and her family are, but very little introspection on himself.
Indeed he even admits in the book that even in his playing days he rarely admitted that someone beat him. Instead, he had some sort of excuse for why he lost. In this book, he also has plenty of excuses for some of his "losses" off the court and gives off the impression that he would be fine to share a few beers with, but would be awful to have as a friend.
In short, if you were a tennis fan when McEnroe, Connors, Vilas, and Borg were the stars, read this book. Otherwise, it's kind of interesting but you could spend your time better elsewhere.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The *kayters* review, Feb. 13 2003
By 
Katie F. "kayters" (Marietta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You Cannot Be Serious (Hardcover)
I had purchased this book thinking that it was a tell-all about his relationship with Tatum O'Neal as well as all the goings-on in the tennis world. While I do like tennis, I don't play and don't watch it enough for the tennis stuff to be all that interesting to me. I thought that the book would have been much more entertaining had I been older in the eighties and remembered most of the people he mentions. It is very "Oprah-esque" in his justifications of why he did the things he did, but I do think he has some great ideas for the future of tennis and the USTA would do well to listen to him. After all, it is obvious that tennis has lost many fans since he left the sport. I left the book feeling that McEnroe still feels he has something to prove at least to himself, if not the world. And that is unfortunate, because at this point in his life, he should be able to just sit back and enjoy what he has worked so hard to obtain.
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