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About Roland Lazenby
So when I say that I have an interest in Jordan, I mean it.
I've written a new biography, Michael Jordan, The Life, set to be released by Little, Brown on May 6, 2014. His is a very big life, and the book was an immense challenge to write but oh so fascinating, as was the Jerry West bio I wrote in 2010 for ESPN Books/Random House.
I like to write about competitive personalities, especially those in the NBA. I like to write about their families. Among the zillion questions I had about MJ, I wanted to know where he came from, who the Jordans were. They were moonshiners, making and selling illegal liquor on North Carolina's Coastal Plain. So that's where his hard edge came from, I thought upon discovering who they were. Just about all the farmers and sharecroppers were moonshiners back in the day. That was their cash crop, the one that kept the family fed. They were tough-minded people, just like Jordan himself.
I've written a book that builds his life from that background. Starting at the beginning, with the birth of his great grandfather Dawson Jordan, allows me to take the reader through the process of his family, his background, and the nurturing of his vast competitive nature. What's more, it's immensely fun to track his rise. I enjoyed writing about the sharecroppers on North Carolina's Coastal Plain, just as I enjoyed writing about the coal miners and frontier settlers in Jerry West's background in West Virginia.
I see it as connecting all of the important cultural dots in the backgrounds of iconic figures.
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The Shrug. The Shot. The Flu Game. Michael Jordan is responsible for sublime moments so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. When most people think of him, they think of his beautiful shots with the game on the line, his body totally in sync with the ball -- hitting nothing but net.
But for all his greatness, this scion of a complex family from North Carolina's Coastal Plain has a darker side: he's a ruthless competitor and a lover of high stakes. There's never been a biography that encompassed the dual nature of his character and looked so deeply at Jordan on and off the court -- until now.
Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby spent almost thirty years covering Michael Jordan's career in college and the pros. He witnessed Jordan's growth from a skinny rookie to the instantly recognizable global ambassador for basketball whose business savvy and success have millions of kids still wanting to be just like Mike. Yet Lazenby also witnessed the Michael Jordan whose drive and appetite are more fearsome and more insatiable than any of his fans could begin to know.
Michael Jordan: The Life explores both sides of his personality to reveal the fullest, most compelling story of the man who is Michael Jordan. Lazenby draws on his personal relationships with Jordan's coaches; countless interviews with Jordan's friends, teammates, and family members; and interviews with Jordan himself to provide the first truly definitive study of Michael Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.
Eighteen-time All-Star, scorer of 81 points in a single game, MVP, and one of the best shooting guards in NBA league history: Kobe Bryant is among basketball's absolute greatest players, and his importance to the sport is undeniable. Third on the NBA career scoring list and owner of five championship rings, he is an undisputed all-time great, one deserving of this deep and definitive biography.
Even within the flashiest franchise in all of sports -- the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played his entire career -- Bryant always took center stage, and his final game captivated the basketball world, indeed the country. Roland Lazenby delves deep to look behind this public image, using classic basketball reporting and dozens of new interviews to reveal the whole picture, from Bryant's childhood through his playing years.
Showboatis filled with large personalities and provocative stories, including details of Bryant's complicated personal life and explosive relationships on the court, and is a riveting and essential read for every hoops fan.
Sportswriter Roland Lazenby, author of the bestselling BLOOD ON THE HORNS, reveals the fascinating story of Jackson's life, from his years with the New York Knicks under the legendary Red Holzman to his remarkable nine championships coaching first the Chicago Bulls and then the Los Angeles Lakers.
In MIND GAMES Lazenby compellingly portrays a man with a unique determination to control the competitive environment he inhabits. A clear picture of the Jackson mystique emerges: philosopher, teacher, manipulator, counselor, psychologist, shaman, champion, master of mind games.
Originally published in 2007, now available in eBook format for the first time.
How big was the pressure? How deep was the division? Those were the questions that would beg answering long after the Chicago Bulls had completed their strife-ridden 1997-98 season in the National Basketball Association. BLOOD ON THE HORNS details the infighting & conflict between Jordan, coach Phil Jackson, teammate Scottie Pippen and the team's general manager, Jerry Krause, and managing partner, Jerry Reinsdorf. Through exclusive interviews with the team and staff, Lazenby expertly recreates the drama of 1997-98 and the Bulls’ struggle to remain a team.
Monday, April 16, 2007 started like any other Monday at Virginia Tech, with professors and students preparing for another busy week of classes. However, word quickly circulated of a shooting in the dorms - and the gunman was still loose. The campus went into lockdown, and as the gruesome events unfolded in Norris Hall, a group of journalism students trapped in a nearby building transmitted stories and updates to the student-run website, PlanetBlacksburg.com.
Now, these students, together with their journalism instructor and members of the Virginia Tech community, have documented the events of that day. April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers gives a voice to the students, faculty, and staff who lived through the shooting, and serves as a memorial for the 32 victims. The book also describes the onslaught of media coverage that immediately followed, and reveals the remarkable resilience of the students of Virginia Tech throughout the entire ordeal.
In this marvelous book—the first biography of the basketball legend—award-winning reporter and author Roland Lazenby traces Jerry West’s brilliant career from the coalfields near Cabin Creek, West Virginia, to the bare-knuckled pre-expansion era of the NBA, from the Lakers’ Riley-Magic-Kareem Showtime era to Jackson–Kobe–Shaq teams of the early twenty-first century, and beyond.
But fame was not all glory.
Called “Mr. Clutch,” West was an incomparable talent—flawless on defense, possessing unmatched court vision, and the perfect jumper, unstoppable when the game was on the line. Beloved and respected by fans and fellow players alike, West was the centerpiece of Lakers teams that starred such players as Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain, and he went on to nine NBA Finals. Yet in losing eight of those series, including six in a row to the detested Boston Celtics, West became as famous for his failures as for his triumphs. And that notoriety cast long shadows over West’s life on and off the court.
Yet as the author discovered through scores of exclusive interviews with West’s teammates, colleagues, and family members, West channeled the frustration of his darkest moments into a driving force that propelled his years as an executive. And in this capacity, the success that often eluded West on the court has enabled him to reach out to successive generations of players to enrich and shape the sport in immeasurable ways.
Though sometimes overshadowed by flashier peers on the court, Jerry West nevertheless stands out as the heart and soul of a league that, in fifty years, has metamorphosed from a regional sideshow into a global phenomenon. And in Jerry West, Roland Lazenby provides the ultimate story of a man who has done more to shape basketball than anyone on the planet.
The first definitive oral history of the ever popular L.A. Lakers
The L.A. Lakers have long been one of the NBA's most exciting teams. In The Show, critically acclaimed sportswriter Roland Lazenby brings the story of this charismatic team to life in an unprecedented oral history, featuring such legendary players as Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, and Magic Johnson, along with current stars like Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Through in-depth interviews with players, coaches, and many other key figures, Lazenby follows the Lakers from their birthplace in 1946 Minneapolis to their eventual successes and failures in Los Angeles, using his flair for storytelling and eye for detail to show you exactly why the 14-time NBA champion Lakers are a celebrated favorite for sports fans all over America.
Mad Game documents his hard lessons on the road to stardom, his rapid rise through the NBA, and his conflicts with—and, at times, alienation from—his teammates, including his on-and-off-again relationship with Shaquille O’Neal. This is a story of triumph, of an unusually gifted young athlete trying to remain true to himself and his game.