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 fourth 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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