As a avid fan of sports and non-fiction literature, I have read about give or take seven sports biographies/autobiographies in my lifetime, three of them about my favorite athlete and role model of all-time, Michael Jordan.
But the fourth one I just completed is nothing like the other three nor is it like any book I have ever read, it’s the best work of literature I have EVER laid my eyes on.
“Michael Jordan: The Life”, by Roland Lazenby epitomizes greatness in the sense of great literature thanks to excellent writing by Lazenby, as well as the subject matter being Michael Jordan, who is not only the greatest basketball player ever, but one of the greatest athletes ever.
Jordan’s career was beyond fascinating, it was magically mysterious. Everything about him, his athletic prowess, his personal life, his psychological mentality, his marketing influence, his drive, everything just puts me in awe because there’s not just one aspect that makes him great, there’s a multitude.
Each of those aspects plus every little detail about Jordan’s life is mentioned in this book, and as mentioned earlier, if you’re a fan of either Jordan, NBA or literature this is a must read. There are countless books on Jordan each detailing various aspects of his life, and one of the great aspects about “Michael Jordan: The Life” is that the context of this book is a combination of every other Jordan book plus more. You also not only learn about Jordan’s life, but learn more about the history of the NBA and Chicago Bulls as well.
Lazenby provides a detailed perspective and accurate honest insight about Jordan that you’ve never seen before through the media or all the other Jordan books and narratives. While Lazenby doesn’t have all the answers to the popular mysteries and conspiracies related to Jordan’s career, such as the flu game, his father’s death, his gambling issues, the questions of whether he decided to play baseball or if then NBA commissioner David Stern secretly wanted him out of the NBA, just everything you ever wondered about Jordan’s career, Lazenby covers by using anecdotes and facts, which allows us to draw our own clues.
Lazenby begins this journey by taking us to Cape Fear River in Pender County, North Carolina 72 years before Jordan was born, where he narrates the birth and life of Jordan’s great-grandfather Dawson Hand, detailing Jordan’s ancestral life and how they shaped Jordan’s life. Then slowly we get to Jordan’s parents’ lives and the birth of Jordan’s siblings Deloris and James before transitioning to Jordan’s birth in Brooklyn.
My personal favorite section of the book has to do with Michael’s genuine passion for visiting ill children who had a last wish and doing everything and anything he can possibly do in his power to make them happy. What’s inspiring about this is Jordan wished to keep all this hidden from the public.
Its a humbling and a cool chilling feeling knowing that I am one of those kids who Jordan reached out to knowing how big of a fan I was of his when I was ill and still to this day he is one of my biggest role models.
I was also really interested on the sections I did not know about Michael, such as his Public Relations Nike trip to Europe in Summer of
1990 as well as the chapter about Jordan’s father’s murder. Jordan was caught up in a couple of controversies in the Summer of 1990. The first one was in relation to Nike’s PR spat with Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH and the other was a racially charged controversy where he was asked to endorse the campaign of Harvey Grant, as Lazenby states, Grant was an African American Democrat who was trying to pry the hardline conservative Jesse Helms out of his US Senate seat representing North Carolina.
Even though Michael didn’t want to go on the trip, Sonny Vaccaro, the Godfather of Nike at the time, was one person Jordan listened to and he was able to convince Jordan on going on the trip. The most intriguing part for me about this whole trip was how Lazenby lays out and describes the trip.
This was my first time reading Lazenby’s work, but most certainly won’t be the last. He has written about 60 sports non-fiction books, which most consist of basketball and football. Three of those include books on Jordan, with the most recent being “Michael Jordan: The Life.” Lazenby received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Military Institute and his master’s degree from Hollins University. Lazenby has also taught various classes at Virginia Tech University and Radford University.
Lazenby has covered Jordan since the early 90s and has shown an interest in him since his early playing days.
“Michael Jordan saved my life once,” Lazenby. “It was during the 1995 playoffs, Chicago vs. Charlotte, after a practice at the arena in Charlotte. He was walking out of the building with a group of reporters following. Walking backwards, I was leading the pack, with my tape recorder in his face, interviewing as we walked. I was a foot from walking off the loading dock at the back of the arena, about a 10 foot fall onto concrete, when he reached out and grabbed my arm to stop me from going over the edge. So when I say that I have an interest in Jordan, I mean it.”
MICHAEL JORDAN: THE LIFE
Author: Roland Lazenby
Publisher: Little, Brown