Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers

Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s 4.5 stars Solid, well written overview of the greatest team of the greatest era in professional basketball I m a lifelong Lakers fan and I read, watch, and listen to almost anything Lakers related, so perhaps my review should be taken with a grain of salt Many of the stories here have been told before, but Pearlman manages to make it all seem fresh and new There are even a few new anecdotes in here for die hard fans My favorite part of this book were the early chapters focusing on Jack McKi 4.5 stars Solid, well written overview of the greatest team of the greatest era in professional basketball I m a lifelong Lakers fan and I read, watch, and listen to almost anything Lakers related, so perhaps my review should be taken with a grain of salt Many of the stories here have been told before, but Pearlman manages to make it all seem fresh and new There are even a few new anecdotes in here for die hard fans My favorite part of this book were the early chapters focusing on Jack McKinney, the true genius behind the Showtime Lakers There has not been enough written about him and Pearlman gives McKinney the long overdue credit he deserves It s one of the great What Ifs of professional sports What if McKinney doesn t have his freak bicycle accident and remains head coach do the Lakers go on to win five titles in 10 years I believe any coach with Kareem Adbul Jabbar and Magic Johnson could win championships, but the team might not have been as glitzy yet hard nosed as they were under Pat Riley.Pearlman also doesn t pull any punches, either, making sure the reader knows that Kareem is arrogant and unlikable, Magic is a sex addict and truly runs the Lakers, and Riley is paranoid and a megalomaniac None of these are new revelations, but credit the author with creating a captivating and entertaining story out of such familiar material This is a must read for Lakers fans, but any fan of 80s era basketball even the most hardcore Celtics fan will appreciate this.Go Lakers Once again a great book by Jeff Pearlman, possibly my favorite and he s done a bunch of good ones such as The Bad Guys Won on the 1986 Mets, Sweetness on Walter Payton and Boys Will Be Boys on the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s This book is about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s Included in this very detailed book are stories about Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, A.C Green, Michael Cooper, Pat Riley, Jerry Buss, Norm Nixon, Mychael Thompson, Once again a great book by Jeff Pearlman, possibly my favorite and he s done a bunch of good ones such as The Bad Guys Won on the 1986 Mets, Sweetness on Walter Payton and Boys Will Be Boys on the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s This book is about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s Included in this very detailed book are stories about Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, A.C Green, Michael Cooper, Pat Riley, Jerry Buss, Norm Nixon, Mychael Thompson, Spencer Haywood, Paul Westhead, Jack McKinney, Bob McAdoo and many others Basically has short intro with how Jerry Buss bought the team and then goes right into the year 1979 80 when the Lakers won the championship in Magic s rookie year Talks about not just the games, but conflicts going on off the court as well Book chronicles all the years in the 1980s and ends around the time Magic calls it quits because he learns he has the HIV virus If you are a Lakers fan, you MUST read this book If you are a fan of the NBA, especially in the 1980s when it was at its best, you MUST read this book Even if you re a Celtics fan you ll probably enjoy this one Pearlman does very good research and writes very well Can t wait to read his next one 4.5 stars.I enjoyed this book from the very first page It doesn t matter if you like the Lakers or not, this is a great read about the 80s Lakers Lots of stories you may or may not know, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the personal stories of those involved were weaved in to fit chronologically as well as to tell you what was happening behind the scenes during those stellar seasons Kudos to telling the story of Jack McKinney He s often left out and I never really hear much about him. Audiobook Decided to give this book a try when I came across it In basketball, I am a Houston Rockets fan through and through, but I can appreciate great teams and talent In the history of the NBA, you cannot mention the great teams in its history without talking about the Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 1980s Given the nickname Showtime for their uptempo style of play, their star power and the overall ambiance associated with the franchise in LA in that decade, they becamethan jus Audiobook Decided to give this book a try when I came across it In basketball, I am a Houston Rockets fan through and through, but I can appreciate great teams and talent In the history of the NBA, you cannot mention the great teams in its history without talking about the Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 1980s Given the nickname Showtime for their uptempo style of play, their star power and the overall ambiance associated with the franchise in LA in that decade, they becamethan just a basketball team, but a separate form of entertainment in a city built on such things The story starts with how the Lakers, who were not a terrible team in the late 1970s, but were not a great one, started to make the key moves that took them to a new level Along the way, Pearlman introduces the reader one by one to the key personalities that played their part in the Lakers ascendancy It is somewhat formulaic how Pearlman, after first mentioning a name in the context of the team will then provide the back story of how their lives and how they came to join the franchise He take a chronological approach, starting from Buss purchase of the team to the drafting of Magic Johnson, the 1980 title, the fall of Paul Westhead and the rise of Pat Riley, the start of the arguably the greatest iteration of the Celtics Lakers rivalries In between, Pearlman gives time to the superstars Magic, Kareem, Riley and the bit players Rambis, Jones, Williams, etc He also goes behind the known stories and images to reveal the faults and frailties of the personalities involved There is a degree of hedonism in this time, with drug use, prodigious sexual activity, fast money and dumb decisions, but there is also some of the greatest basketball to have ever been played It follows the dynasty of the Showtime Lakers, from creation to its apex, to its inevitable decline Age, ego and an evolving series of opponents will eventually overcome all sports dynasties While some could argue the end of Showtime came with the retirement of Kareem, or the Pistons sweep of the Lakers in 1989 or the firing of Pat Riley in 1990, but for Pearlman, the end of Showtime came with the announcement of Magic Johnson in Nov 1991 that he was HIV positive Overall, it was an engaging read, and while the style was somewhat formulaic for sports writing, the stories involved were supremely engaging For an audiobook, the reader was engaging, and while he would sometimes try to talk in quasi accents, he did not go over the top Perhaps the non sports fan may not quite be as enthralled by this work, but for any sort of basketball fan, this is worth the time spent reading listening to this work TheNew York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all encompassing account of the s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports most revered and dominant dynasties The Los Angeles Lakers of the s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned Beginning with the arrival of Earvin Magic Johnson as the number one overall pick of thedraft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed Showtime run and gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all around American entertainment The Lakers roster overflowed with exciting all star caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut Hollywood s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena Best of all, the team was a winner Betweenand , the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers epic Showtime era A dazzling account of one of America s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw dropping, behind the scenes stories of the players decadent Hollywood lifestyles From the Showtime era s remarkable rise to its tragic end marked by Magic Johnson sannouncement that he had contracted HIV Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and s style excess This iwas pretty good As a kid growing up in Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s, I was all about Showtime Magic, Coop, Kareem, Rambis The machinations behind the personnel moves, the interactions, and the mentalities of the men who made all that happen are laid out in great detail Things I didn t know, things I expected, timelines I only vaguely remember now that I m old.This is simply invaluable to anyone who was a basketball fan during this era, as well as anyone who wants a bitinsig This iwas pretty good As a kid growing up in Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s, I was all about Showtime Magic, Coop, Kareem, Rambis The machinations behind the personnel moves, the interactions, and the mentalities of the men who made all that happen are laid out in great detail Things I didn t know, things I expected, timelines I only vaguely remember now that I m old.This is simply invaluable to anyone who was a basketball fan during this era, as well as anyone who wants a bitinsight as to how a championship team is built, maintained, and eventually crumbles I enjoyed this book during the 2016 NBA Finals In some ways, Golden State s small ball run n gun is like a throwback to the early 80 s Lakers There is much time and paradigm difference between them, though The three pointer was a novelty in the 1980s and it s hard to imagine coaches and pundits so blindly unaware of the inefficiency on offense back then When you have a guy like Byron Scott shooting over 43% from 3 point range but he only takes a few a game, you re leaving points off the boar I enjoyed this book during the 2016 NBA Finals In some ways, Golden State s small ball run n gun is like a throwback to the early 80 s Lakers There is much time and paradigm difference between them, though The three pointer was a novelty in the 1980s and it s hard to imagine coaches and pundits so blindly unaware of the inefficiency on offense back then When you have a guy like Byron Scott shooting over 43% from 3 point range but he only takes a few a game, you re leaving points off the board No analytics back then, alas Tempo free statistics would have been helpful to add to this book, it s a lot easier to get a triple double when there are 120 possessions a game versus only 90 It is also hard to imagine that in the early 1980s the NBA Finals were not televised live on the West Coast so as not to preempt hit shows like the Dukes of Hazzard Before Magic and Bird, and NBA highlight films by asavvy media office, NBA stars were not so super I read Larry Bird s autobiography Drive which also looked at this era, but Bird s NBA was much less lecherous This book is a good, sometimes humorous, chronicle of the Lakers dynasty.The story begins with the long forgotten inventor of Showtime Coach Jack McKinney, who is senile when the author interviews him He was almost killed in a bike accident during the season and his brain never fully recovered he was replaced by Paul Westhead who won the 1980 running McKinney s fast break style Jerry Buss had wanted UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian to be his first hire or co hire with Jack Kent Cooke who was passing his ownership to Buss Tarkanian s agent sealed the lucrative deal but then was mysteriously murdered and discovered to have many ties with organized crime Tark backed out of the deal and allegedly never recovered emotionally.It is hard to imagine the era Supposedly 80% of NBA players and half the Lakers were using cocaine Magic Johnson was the first Buss draft pick and fit into the playboy Jack Buss lifestyle Buss lived like Hugh Hefner with multiple women and a party lifestyle Magic famously enjoyed that lifestyle as well and paid heavily for it later with HIV It was Buss who invented the Laker Girls and renovated the Forum Club to be an after game place where players could engage with women and celebrities away from their wives Magic and Kareem didn t drink or use drugs, but Magic was known to host Playboy style orgies where profligacy was mandated The cocaine fueled downfall of Spencer Haywood and other Lakers is difficult and almost impossible to imagine today Perlman doesn t chronicle it, but the epidemic seems to fade by the late 1980s At one point, Mark Lansberger, who had an open relationship with his wife and other women, told his wife about his teammates exploits on the road His wife gossipped with the others and internal scandal insued He was ostracized and later traded.Kareem Abdul Jabbar was always reading, never fooled, and unfriendly with outsiders He was accused of hating white people, ignored or belittled autograph seekers, and was the opposite of Magic, who he repeatedly scolded to calm down his rookie season He only mellowed one time in the decade, when his house burned down and he lost his carpets and thousands of jazz records Fans would send him their antique jazz records and he would show appreciation, but later became angry and distant again.After Westhead won the 1980 title, he imposed his own odd system that was the opposite of McKinney s to the dismay of Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson Westhead would require his players to run the same way down the court every time, to run the same set plays where they stood around the opposite of Showtime It took a whole season for the whole team to hate him, eventually Magic was the bad guy for getting him fired It is interesting to hear of the rivarly between coach and players as well as teammates vying for playing time and positions Norm Nixon and Magic competed both with the same women and at point guard The 1981 Laker team basically imploded, which led Laker assistant and afterthought hire Pat Riley to be thrust into the limelight as coach, who was announced by Buss as a co coach with Jerry West, which West vehemently denied The Lakers wanted to force Norm Nixon out and hired private investigators to follow him, at which point he agreed to be traded Magic was vilified in the media and roundly booed by Laker fans after signing a 10 year, 25 million contract That lasted for all of 10 minutes as he reminded them what value he was on the court.It wouldn t be a Showtime story without Magic versus Bird The Lakers players interviewed for the book even use terms like underrated to describe Bird he was unstoppable for many of them The Lakers most satisfying championship was probably the 1987 one Much of this part lined up with my memory of the battles from Bird s memory in Drive.Perlman chronicles a lot of unsung heroes on the Laker teams like Jamal Wilkes He gives the reader an idea of how weird Kurt Rambis was AC Green later became an All Star and stood out like a sore thumb in his virginity and desire to share the Gospel with his teammates I was glad to hear that he was legit in his lifestyle Michael Thompson filled in as a solid replacement for Kareem in his old age, and Michael Cooper apparently was accutely paranoid always convinced the Lakers were going to trade him and working to prove himself Byron Scott was both tough minded and an able teammate, a better shooter and athlete than often given credit for.While Pat Riley introduced a grueling pre season camp and physical practices, which the players appreciated, eventually he took it too far as a personality cult developed He would forbid wives from coming on the road and demand that they have one mission during the season keep their husbands happy Eventually, his ego got the best of him as he became everdemanding and took every loss increasingly poorly After he stole a Lakers player s phrase threepeat and trademarked it, he became obsessed with obtaining it He cost the Lakers the 1989 crown by hosting a mini camp before the series where he wore the aging players out, and then a grueling practice with unnecessary drills in Detroit caused an industry to Byron Scott that left the team undermanned The team mutineed and Riley was replaced by Mike Dunleavy who did a good job getting the aged and worn out Lakers to the 1991 finals against the Bulls the last gasp of Showtime.The end of Magic s career is chronicled, along with the scare it put into players his teammates quickly swapped lists of mutual partners , and Magic s young marriage I enjoyed the insights into the aftermath of the careers of those who took part in Showtime.In all, I give this book 3.5 stars out of five As mentioned above, it lacks adding any analytical component It is a nostalgic look back on the 1980s NBA and a team and rivalry Lakers Celtics that launched the NBA into the modern era It is profanity laced and pretty insightful into the personal lives of highly paid athletes in Los Angeles Jeff Pearlman has carved out a nice little niche for himself chronicling thesordid off the field aspects of some of the most beloved teams and athletes of yesterday From Sweetness, a very complicated portrait of Walter Payton that pulled no punches, to books such as Boys Will Be Boys covering the athletic, litigious, and criminal exploits of the 1990s Cowboys and their staff and The Bad Guys Won doing much of the same for the 1986 Mets the former writer for Sports Illustrated sticks t Jeff Pearlman has carved out a nice little niche for himself chronicling thesordid off the field aspects of some of the most beloved teams and athletes of yesterday From Sweetness, a very complicated portrait of Walter Payton that pulled no punches, to books such as Boys Will Be Boys covering the athletic, litigious, and criminal exploits of the 1990s Cowboys and their staff and The Bad Guys Won doing much of the same for the 1986 Mets the former writer for Sports Illustrated sticks to this rather sound formula for his latest book Showtime, a comprehensive look at the Los Angeles Lakers of the eighties It is a solid effort that will appeal to basketball fans and readers interested in the glitz, glamor, and excessive amounts of sexual escapades and cocaine in the NBA of the 1980s Pearlman s books are generally longer than the average sports book for what that s worth and thus finding engaging subjects is especially crucial The 1980s Lakers certainly deliver on that front The team was full of enigmatic and idiosyncratic players and leaders such as the womanizing owner Jerry Buss, the egomaniac head coach Pat Riley, the aloof and curmudgeonly Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and the preternaturally charismatic Magic Johnson I could go on but my sentences run on enough as it is The book is filled with insights and anecdotes from almost everyone associated with the organization over the period and the first hand accounts are really where the book shines Chronicles of past seasons can often devolve into re hashings of the major events of a few seasons without any real additional material provided To fans of the franchises in question presumably the bulk of the target audience for something like this the entire book can feel like a tired recap of events that are already very familiar to them Showtime is able to mostly avoid this pitfall by featuring constant commentary from individuals such as Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss among many others Some of the subjects are incredibly open with the author, especially Spencer Haywood, who admits to a strong cocaine addiction and attempting to have head coach Paul Westhead killed So while there were certainly times where the season summaries blended into each other and I lost some of my interest, these instances were usually quickly ended by a truly entertaining story or trivia tidbit and the book would then get back on its rails.Showtime is structured as a chronological history of the Lakers during the period ranging from 1979 when Jack McKinney took over as head coach to Magic Johnson s 1991 retirement announcement It is equally interested in the team s on field performance as it is with its extracurriculars, of which there were plenty In addition to winning several championships and introducing three peat into the sports lexicon and US Patent office the team engaged in heaping quantities of marital infidelity and featured a seemingly revolving door of truly strange characters and I m showing some restraint here by avoiding steering clear of an obvious central casting reference The team once employed players such as Mark Landsberger who upon joining the team asked Pat Riley do you guys have any rebounding plays and Earl Jones, a two time high school All American who decided to attend the Division II University of District of Columbia Recollections such as how Jones decided to skip a practice and take a 100 fine rather than pay 50 for a taxi to the arena interesting cost benefit analysis there were some of my favorite sections of the book Pearlman also predictably devotes significant quantities of ink to stars such as Kareem and Magic and he is so meticulous with his research and approach that he is able to share quality material about them as well Overall, while Showtime lacks the shock value of a book like Sweetness its not like there was ever a Spencer Haywood Man of the Year Award , it is a worthwhile read for basketball fans Pearlman is a strong writer who diligently mined the media of the era to fill in any gaps from his plethora of interviews I found some of his on court descriptions to be generic at times which made the book drag during some portions but on the whole the book was an enjoyable read There is also definitely enough new information here to appeal to even the most die hard Laker fans In SumReaders familiar with Pearlman s other books will know what to expect here Showtime is a readable, informative, and entertaining look at the 1980s greatest NBA team and their associated exploits There may not be enough interesting material to propel a general sports fan through all 450 pages but basketball fans will get a lot out of Showtime.7 10 ARC provided by LibraryThing early reviewsDuring the 1980 s the sports world was dominated by one team The Los Angeles Lakers Led by number one pick Earvin Magic Johnson, featuring Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and led by slicked back hair, Armani suit strutting Pat Reily, the team played in nine NBA championship series over eleven years winning five of them The Lakers became known for their showtime style of play and entertaining millions across the globe While there are countless other books on ARC provided by LibraryThing early reviewsDuring the 1980 s the sports world was dominated by one team The Los Angeles Lakers Led by number one pick Earvin Magic Johnson, featuring Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and led by slicked back hair, Armani suit strutting Pat Reily, the team played in nine NBA championship series over eleven years winning five of them The Lakers became known for their showtime style of play and entertaining millions across the globe While there are countless other books on the Lakers, including this era, Jeff Peralman s abilities as a writer make this a standout one He does an impeccable job of drawing from over three hundred interviews to bring the the 80 s era Lakers to life, from their rise, to its sudden end with Magic Johnson s announcement that he had contracted HIV From these interviews he pieces together a story that flows smoothly, brings history to life, and is entertaining to readits a talent that not many other writers have More than that though, Pearlman exposes everything and removes the blinders that so many other writers have to the Lakers dynasty, discussing Kareem growing old, Riley wearing out his welcome, the drugs, the women, everything is laid bare.If you re a fan of the NBA, of the Lakers, or of any of the people with the showtime team this is a must have book You won t go wrong with picking it up I give it four out of five stars I have loved every book that Jeff Pearlman has written This one is no different I grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers This book tells you how the Lakers became THE dominant team of the NBA and how they, along with the Boston Celtics, saved the NBA.The book begins with the Lakers in 1979 beginning with the drafting of Magic Johnson Showtime began with Magic The book fittingly ends with Magic announcing his retirement from the NBA due to HIV in November 1991 From 1979 to 1991 the Lake I have loved every book that Jeff Pearlman has written This one is no different I grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers This book tells you how the Lakers became THE dominant team of the NBA and how they, along with the Boston Celtics, saved the NBA.The book begins with the Lakers in 1979 beginning with the drafting of Magic Johnson Showtime began with Magic The book fittingly ends with Magic announcing his retirement from the NBA due to HIV in November 1991 From 1979 to 1991 the Lakers won 5 NBA titles They also were in the finals nearly every year The best match ups were against the Celtics but there were also match ups against the Sixers, Pistons and Bulls.Pearlman goes through each season, not just with the top games but with all of the behind the scenes inside information which included cocaine, sex with groupies and the personalities of all the players on the team Some were good like A.C Green who was teased as a result of being a virgin due to his faith and bad like Spencer Haywood and his drug addiction.You get the inside dope on every from owners Jack Kent Cooke asshole and Jerry Buss who partied with Magic on a regular basis The coaches, Jack McKinney the true architect of the Showtime offense , Paul Westhead brief time due to Magic not backing him , Pat GQ Riley started out beloved and left due to all the players wanting him out because he was a control freak, and Mike Dunleavy last year of Showtime Bench players, good players and great players All are described in depth, the good and the bad, so that you feel like you really know them.Much of the book focuses on Magic because the Lakers were Magic s team He ran the show Off the court he slept with so many women it became almost a challenge for him Morning, noon and night he was getting laid by different women I wished the book would have discussed thoughts on how Magic got HIV Yes, he had sex with so many different woman but the chances on hetrosexual HIV is pretty low There were rumors that are not discussed in the book HIV is a very small topic at the end of the book.Kareem Abdul Jabbar is also covered quiet heavily He was there for nearly the entire time frame of Showtime He is a complicated man and Pearlman does a good job of trying to get you to know Kareem A star who was an introvert and refused to sign autographs for fans including kids He would also get upset if the offense didn t involve him enough.Great book that brought back a lot of memories from a time where I use to watch the NBA I basically quit watching with the demise of Showtime


About the Author: Jeff Pearlman

Jeff Pearlman is an American sports writer He has written two books about baseball and was the author of the infamous John Rocker interview in Sports Illustrated In October 2011 he released his fifth book, a biography of Walter Payton titled, Sweetness The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton It spent four weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.Pearlman was born and raised in Mahopac, New York He got his start in journalism in 1989, when he interned at a weekly newspaper in Cross River, entitled The Patent Trader After graduating from the University of Delaware, he was hired as a food and fashion writer by The Tennessean in Nashville In 1996, Pearlman was hired by Sports Illustrated, where he spent nearly seven years as a baseball writer.In 2002, Pearlman left Sports Illustrated and spent the next two years at Newsday, but left to focus on writing books He also keeps an unusually personal online blog, where he posts a weekly QA series, The Quaz, with athletes, politicians, actors, singers and many random people He was a frequent contributor to ESPN.com s Page 2, then as a columnist for SI.com No stranger to controversy, Pearlman used his own website as a forum to call out the overzealous missionary goals of Tim Tebow s father as pretty evil In the fall of 2007, Pearlman wrote several controversial articles on Page 2 regarding the lack of a rivalry between the University of Delaware s and Delaware State University s football teams The University of Delaware and Delaware State finally played a football game on November 23, 2007 at part of the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs Delaware won the game with a score of 44 7.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *