For 13 brilliant seasons Michael Jordan danced the dance of greatness across hardwood floors of basketball arenas from New York to Los Angeles to Barcelona and Paris. With a warrior's heart and an artist's grace, Jordan long ago transcended the sport to become one of the 20th century's global icons.
On the court, his almost mythic flair for the spectacular prompted former Los Angeles Laker superstar Magic Johnson to say simply, "There's Michael, then there's all the rest of us."
Off the court, Jordan's ability to alter markets and drive the business of his marketing partners is unprecedented.
Through it all, Jordan showed the world that greatness, true greatness, comes from the inside out. He remains perhaps the greatest practice player in the history of sports, his desire to improve upon his own example legendary. When critics questioned his all-around ability, he became the game's most dominant defensive player at his position. When teams decided to close down the lane and eliminate drives to the basket, he became a deadly jump shooter. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had the most successfully teams of the 1980s but never won more than two consecutive championships. The Bulls won three straight--twice.
In For the Love of the Game
, Jordan takes us through the wonder of his career on the court and away from the game. From the dream that preceded the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Finals to the methodical dissection of the Utah Jazz prior to his game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals, Jordan pulls back the curtain on one of the most remarkable lives this century.
It's not easy imagining a volume capable of capturing the grace, the joy, the flamboyance, and the wizardry of Michael Jordan, but this hybrid--melding autobiography, celebration, spectacular photography, and cutting-edge graphics--comes awfully close. Like Jordan driving the lane, it's a thing of beauty; harder to analyze than it is to admire, accept, gaze at, and enjoy.
As befits the ultimate star in a game that has marketed itself with perfect razzle-dazzle, For the Love of the Game is as visually brash as it is glitzy. In page after stunning page, Jordan traces his ascension from college star to object of worldwide adoration. While most of the focus is, of course, on the NBA, there are significant side trips into baseball, the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, his advertising omnipresence, his family, and even his privacy. On the surface, the pictures--and their presentation--are more than enough to preserve and praise the Jordan legend, but For the Love of the Game has something more. It has Michael Jordan.
Jordan's text is everything the flashy images are not; it is straight, thoughtful, and revealing. At times, the relationship of word and image is breathtaking, especially on a particular pair of two-page layouts. In the first, Jordan asks, "When does jumping become flying?" His answer, framed by photos that would turn Superman green with envy, indicates that Jordan is genuinely amazed by his own talents. The second is his reflection on "The Shot," his buzzer-beater over Cleveland's Craig Ehlo to win game 5 in the 1989 playoffs. The story is told in 24 pictures taken over the final three seconds. Below that is a chart of 25 of Jordan's game-winning shots. But it's this Jordan observation that pulls the image and text together: "I never considered the negative consequence of missing the last shot in a game." It's an attitude that defines the man, and For the Love of the Game reflects it with a stylish combination of elegance, power, and beauty. (Want more Jordan? Check out an image from his book. © 1998 by Rare Air, Ltd. Text copyright © 1998 by Michael Jordan. Photo credit: Walter Iooss, Jr) --Jeff Silverman