Saturday, May 31, 2014

The NBA from Michael Jordan to Steve Ballmer

Driven people are motivated to win, often at any cost. What does "winning" mean? Well, that depends on who you ask. According to Roland Lazenby in MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE, the basketball icon was a complex man whose influences include the murder of his father, his estrangement from his family, and "a bipolar personality." The book is deeply researched, going back into the childhood and family history of Jordan to discover facts and secrets never before revealed. The author likes Jordan, and is indebted to him for preventing his fall on one occasion off a loading dock, but is clearly in investigative journalist mode about setting the record straight while building a complete picture of motivations coming from background. Depending on who you ask, Jordan was/is a genius, a jerk, a living legend, a racist, generous, selfish, a comic, cruel, a sweetheart, or an egomaniac. A running contradiction. After his bizarre Hall of Fame speech, which left everyone shaking their heads, you have to wonder if he understands himself, much less his associates. There is much commentary on important individual games, related to Jordan's relationships within teams and with coaches such as Phil Jackson.  Narrator Bob Souer sounds like a sports announcer, if Frontline had one. If Frontline does a documentary about Jordan, it will certainly include this book, which says almost as much about the NBA as it does about its best-ever player. You will certainly learn more here about the ups and downs of being a hyper-competitive player and gambler than anywhere else. Would you want to be him? Millions say yes, regardless of the price. But few who say this are willing to pay that price, as Jordan did, nor might they understand and enjoy what they "own" when they achieve goals which, to Jordan, became like drugs. If pride goes before a fall, and ego inflation the ultimate high, what does it all mean for Jordan or for NBA's latest owner, Steve Ballmer? Everyone must answer that for themselves. 


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