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One Last Shot: The Story of Michael Jordan's Comeback
     

One Last Shot: The Story of Michael Jordan's Comeback

4.5 4
by Mitchell Krugel
 

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One Last Shot gives Jordan fans the inside scoop they're looking for on basketball's greatest legend, with exclusive interviews from NBA executives, players, and coaches. Mitchell Krugel uses his fifteen years of following Michael Jordan's every move to explain why the man who left the game as The Greatest Player of All Time would risk his unparalleled

Overview

One Last Shot gives Jordan fans the inside scoop they're looking for on basketball's greatest legend, with exclusive interviews from NBA executives, players, and coaches. Mitchell Krugel uses his fifteen years of following Michael Jordan's every move to explain why the man who left the game as The Greatest Player of All Time would risk his unparalleled legend to play again.

After delivering the Chicago Bulls their sixth championship in 1998 by pulling off what became known as the greatest money shot in the history of the NBA, Michael believed he still had much of that Greatest-Player-Of-All-Time left in his game. But he felt that retirement was forced on him in 1999, and he left the game craving more doses of fifty-point binges, winner-take-all confrontations, and repeated nights of reminding fans they just saw the greatest player ever.

One Last Shot not only explains why Michael Jordan came back to the court but also looks at his transition from Wizards executive to player, his struggle to join a team that had grown up with his posters on their walls, and his glories and setbacks in a Wizards season chock full of both struggles and surprises. Krugel also details the star-laden workouts Michael designed in the summer of 2001 to get his game back into shape.

This look at Michael Jordan, circa 2001-2002, shows how much basketball had changed since his last coming and how much it hadn't, and how his drive pushed him to the verge of a crippling knee injury all in the pursuit of winning. And for six weeks he did make it back. He made the shots. He made good on his mission to teach the Wizards how to be winners, to teach talented teammate Richard Hamilton to be a shooting star, and to whip Kwame Brown, the high school kid he made the first-ever first pick in the NBA draft, into a man. And he did the things that only a man of legend could do.

Krugel analyzes both the man and the legend to trace how the First Coming led to a Second and to a Third, and he chronicles the season that defines Michael Jordan as a man who will forever be playing for one last shot.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As the author of two previous books on basketball legend Jordan, sportswriter Krugel (Michael Jordan: A Biography) has shown himself to be perhaps the most knowledgeable current observer of the life and times of the basketball great. This third look focuses on "the drama within Michael Jordan's Third Coming," when the superstar came out of his second not-so-happy retirement in 2000 to become president of operations for the Washington Wizards, and his subsequent return in 2001 to the court as a player. For fans of Jordan as well as anyone who loved basketball during the 1990s, when Jordan's Chicago Bulls won six championships, this is an insightful depiction of Jordan's attempt "to recapture that endorphin of being the ultimate winner" in a new era. Krugel has done his homework, offering insider reports with much new information on Jordan's initial negotiations with the Wizards and his super-secret preseason practices. The author also presents excellent accounts of key games and even includes an appendix featuring a game-by-game review of Jordan's 2001-2002 season. But Krugel's access and insight also unintentionally produce some of the book's problems: while Krugel deftly analyzes Jordan's desire to be the sole arbiter of what will be his "last shot"-not the sports media world-his attempts to present the inner world of Jordan's comeback year are too often uncritical and awkward ("Something about pain attracted Michael, even tempted him"). Overall, this is an excellent look at an aging superstar's struggle "to find other places besides the basketball court to define his worth." (Nov.) Forecast: Jordan's continuing popularity will assist the book's sales, which will be further helped if Jordan again takes to the court this coming basketball season, as is now being rumored. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In his third book on Michael Jordan, New Jersey sportswriter Krugel concentrates on the athlete's most recent comeback. Perhaps owing to this narrow focus, the book does not lack for detail-Krugel chronicles nearly every game of Jordan's return season with the Washington Wizards-but as a result the text feels overcrowded and becomes heavy and unclear. Good sportswriters know how to vary the tempo of their writing-offering detail or "the big picture" as required. Krugel gives so much space to the minutiae that we never understand why we should know how many points Jordan scored in a mid-season game against a bad team. Furthermore, in his efforts to deify Jordan (he refers to his "First Coming," his "Second Coming," etc.), Krugel makes sweeping generalizations about basketball's high-profile players not being worth much because they aren't Michael Jordan, which is unfair and inaccurate. Among the crowded field of Jordan studies, readers would be better served by David Halberstam's Playing for Keeps. Recommended for diehard Jordan fans only.-James Miller, Springfield Coll. Lib., MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Krugel has shown himself to be perhaps the most knowledgeable current observer of the life and times of the basketball great...an excellent look at an aging superstar's struggle 'to find other places besides the basketball court to define his worth." -Publishers Weekly

"Provides an intimate overview of Michael Jordan as a person and a professional." -Denver Weekly News

"Candid and objective...A fine biography as well as a thoughtful look at the burdens of fame in the modern world." -Booklist

"Full of exciting moments in Jordan's career...A true Michael Jordan fanatic will enjoy this book." -Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429976473
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

One Last Shot

The Story of Michael Jordan's Comeback


By Mitchell Krugel

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2002 Mitchell Krugel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-7647-3



CHAPTER 1

WHY


1

MICHAEL JORDAN WON'T SUCCUMB TO TIME, TO AGE, TO PAIN, TO HIS own management gambles of the past eighteen months, and definitely not to expectations. Not tonight. Three months from now, he will reluctantly but exhaustedly admit he's not that player, the one known worldwide as the Greatest of All Time. But not tonight. Sure, his side aches where the broken ribs he suffered last summer while getting ready for this are still healing. His back spasms from time to time. He looks eerily older in the unfamiliar, almost traitorous blue of his new team, the Washington Wizards, and his right knee swells to a tormenting reminder that he is now thirty-eight years old. He was wrapped in so many ice packs this morning that if somebody put a swoosh on them, he would have been sporting a new line of Nike apparel. He says he will eventually get to the point where we will see plays "similar to what we're used to seeing." But not tonight.

Tonight, Madison Square Garden in New York buzzes with Red Carpet anticipation. Opening night of this National Basketball Association season, not coincidentally, matches Michael's Wizards against the Knicks, for where else would the Third Coming of Michael Jordan premiere but around the corner from Broadway — Woody Allen is here and so is Spike Lee and Kevin Kline and Diane Sawyer and all of the other renowned Garden partiers who saw Michael score forty-two points when he supposedly made a farewell visit here in 1998. Up in the Bronx, the Yankees are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks and struggling to make a run at their fourth consecutive World Series championship, but that is no more than an opening act tonight. Tonight, Bill Bradley and Joe Frazier and Kevin Bacon and David Spade would rather be at the Garden. So would Heidi Klum, even though she whispers that she's not really a basketball fan. And Jessica DeRubbio, a twelve-year old sitting next to Spike. Spike auctioned off the courtside seat usually reserved for his wife to an anonymous person, who paid $101,000 to the fund for the victims of the September 11th terrorist attack. Jessica is one of those victims. Her father, Dave, and several other firefighters from Engine 226 in Brooklyn were lost in the attack. More than six hundred media men and women, including the usual suspects from Japan, France, Brazil and Israel, have also come here to make this event more of a spectacle than any of the NBA Finals Michael Jordan ever played. The BBC is here to televise the game live back to London. It might be 7:30 P.M. on October 30 in New York, but it's the middle of the night in England. Still Michael Jordan's return to active duty in the NBA after more than three years marks the first time the BBC has ever televised an NBA game live.

Approximately ninety seconds into the season, Michael Jordan lets us know what to expect in what will be revered and maligned as his Third Coming. Wizards center Jahidi White steals a pass and springs Jordan on the runway toward the Knicks' basket. He slips past New York's Latrell Sprewell, leaving only 6-foot-11 Felton Spencer as a 300-pound heavy bag standing in the way of a poster-perfect beginning to this Third Coming. Michael takes off, the Garden expecting him to strike the Air Jordan brand pose, arm extended, legs spread, a reassurance that he still hovers above all this. But he finds only enough lift to duck under Spencer and scoop the ball "up" to the hoop, a shot that bounces three feet above the rim and wiggles into the basket. For a moment there is hope — wishing really — that this breath of Air can be the start of one of those Garden nights when Michael scores fifty, that the next five or six months won't be an embarrassing egocentric stumble for a man who struggles to find other places besides the basketball court to define his worth. Another three minutes pass before Michael tries his next shot, after faking his way through the double-teaming defense of Sprewell and Mark Jackson. That the Knicks are doubling Michael should be a sign the NBA considers him the Jordan of old. But right now he says he feels like the old Jordan. His shot over this double-team leaves the Garden echoing "Air Ball, Air Ball." Only once on this night will he make back-to-back shots. He spends more time looking to set up Chris Whitney, Tryone Nesby, Popeye Jones and a bunch of guys who could never be confused with Scottie Pippen. He goes the entire third quarter without scoring a basket. In the final thirty seconds, Michael throws away a pass when Washington has a chance to take the lead.

Yet with sixteen seconds left in the game, Michael has the ball and the game back in his hands. He has just hit a jumper from the foul line, the first time tonight when the shot had some lift and the play ended with a bounce to his step, and now Michael is setting up for a three-point shot that can tie the score and pick up where the Second Coming left off. Like the nearly twenty thousand fans here at the Garden tonight, Wizards coach Doug Collins flashes back to the Jordan of old. Collins, who at the request of Washington's director of basketball operations, Michael Jordan, is starting his own third coming, remembers the first game he ever coached Jordan. Opening night of the 1986 NBA season brought Collins, the rookie coach of the Chicago Bulls, and Jordan to the Garden. With two minutes left in that game and the score tied, Collins called a timeout.

"I remember I had a splitting headache just from the pressure of the game," Collins related, perhaps fully understanding that part of his role this season will be official Jordan storyteller. "I was drawing up a play, obviously to get the ball to Michael. And he handed me a cup of water and said, 'Take a drink of this. I'm not going to let you lose your first game.' I think he went out and scored the last ten points of the game. We won. He ended up with fifty. That was my first taste of Michael Jordan."

Like the packed house here at the Garden tonight, Collins figures the aching knees, the one thousand, two hundred and thirty-three days since Michael's last game-winning shot and the previous forty-seven minutes and forty-four seconds provide no reason to think he won't make this one. Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy speaks for an entire basketball universe when he says, "I thought it was in. I think we were all surprised when it didn't go."

Talk of the missed shot afterward brings a cat-that-swallowed the-canary smile to Michael's face. He has fallen into this expression the few times during his career when he has been relegated to human, to less than savior. Like this is one time he didn't take everybody in the shell game. The big shot isn't going down. Not tonight. Who knows when it will? Maybe when the ribs have healed, the knee feels better and the expectations aren't so overwhelming. Michael says, "This is the beginning of a long season." Tonight, it looks like the beginning of a long struggle that leaves the world asking:

Why?

Why is Michael Jordan here?


2

WE ARE HERE LOOKING FOR THE RABBIT. GEORGE K0EHLER, WHO FOR eighteen years now has alternately served as being Michael Jordan's bodyguard, chauffeur, valet, caddie, confidant and surrogate big brother since MJ first set foot in the NBA, has this theory about watching for the rabbit. You have probably seen George sitting behind the Wizards bench or clearing Michael's postgame path to the locker room or the team bus, the guy with the mop top and mustache who could pass for the fifth Beatle. This conversation with George has turned into Jordanology, and there are four, five, six, maybe a dozen mavens inclined or equipped to probe Michael Jordan as a science. Michael Jordan is still popular culture, an economy, a soap opera inspiring us to analyze him with National Enquirer curiosity. Still that way, even though he hasn't commanded a double-team for more than three years. We have listened to the rhetoric and rationalizations Michael has fabricated up to this opening night, that he is here because of his love for the game and to make winners out of a motley crew of Wizards, who threaten to expose his basketball operations inferiority. But those who know Michael have once again seen him back under that spell, that what's driving him again is the opportunity to put obstacles so mountainous out there that if he can overcome them, then his legacy might grow large enough to match his ego and to justify the whole endeavor.

George is talking about the rabbit as the root of all this, reminding that every time we went to a game in Chicago we saw Michael pull the rabbit out with that raise-the-ball-in-one-hand, switch-it-to-the-other-hand, flip-it-in-the-basket sleight of hand. Now that Michael has come back to pro basketball for a third go-round at age thirty-eight — thirty-eight in human years but really about one hundred and twelve in NBA years — George issues a warning, a manifesto that could define what very well could be the greatest comeback in the history of sports. Keep looking for the rabbit. For what all this pomp and circumstance tells us on the very first night of another Michael Jordan comeback is whether Michael Jordan still has it. Not the it of the hang-time dunks. Not the it of last-second, game-winning shots. Not even the it that can win championships. The it that makes a Sunday in Toronto or a February night in Sacramento worth a five hundred-dollar ticket because he will do something that will enable future generations to hear about "the night when Michael Jordan ..." The Third Coming will be a chase for it, as much as anything else. And for the first time in eighteen years Michael Jordan begins a season not really sure if it happens. Anymore.

"The skill level has changed, obviously," he reveals, "but I've compromised with the mind. I think I'm more strong-minded now, far more so than then, but all that equals success. So, yeah, I guess I still have it."

Just not tonight. Michael Jordan finished the first game of his third go-round with nineteen points on 7-for-21 shooting and one big missed shot. His team lost by two points. Flash back for a moment to March 19,1995. At Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA after an eighteen-month sabbatical, hit just seven shots and finished the first game of his second go-round with nineteen points and one big miss. His Bulls lost in overtime. Not that we need to be reminded, but by the time he ended that stint, he had another three championships and an ending that confirmed Michael as The Greatest Player of All Time.

So if Michael Jordan left us with the Greatest Drama of All Time when he flicked his wrist, extended his arm and dropped the shot to knock out the Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals, then is the first game of his new life as a Washington Wizard one electrifying rabbit test? With one three-point shot — a missed shot no less — Michael Jordan has again become the greatest soap opera in sports. Unless Tiger Woods can win every major golf tournament or the Williams sisters can win every major tennis tournament, Michael Jordan returning to the NBA for a two-year encore is, as noted Chicago sports writer and thirty-year follower of the NBA Lacy J. Banks surmised, an even greater feat than Muhammad Ali's return from his five-year conscientious objection to the Vietnam war to regain his heavyweight boxing title. Michael's comeback is continuous nights of the kind of drama that followed Jack Nicklaus as he won the Masters at forty-six years old, or the game-winning, extra-inning home run the Yankees' Derek Jeter hit in Game Four of the 2001 World Series the night after MJ's Magical Mystery Tour began in New York.

Whether it was late December in Charlotte or mid-February in Sacramento, the drama would follow Jordan every night like the fans who lined up after the game just to watch him get on the team bus. Added melodrama surfaced shortly after Michael officially confirmed his comeback on September 10. The terrorist attacks on the United States the next day obviously put Jordan fervor on hold, but there are those who theorized that his comeback could actually aid the relief effort, and not just because he was donating his entire one million dollar salary for the 20012002 season to the September 11 relief fund. "In our lifetime, no athlete has symbolized American domination more than Jordan," Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti wrote. Michael's fifty-point nights and gluttoning for championships and multimillions of dollars in earnings on and off the court symbolized an era of unprecedented superfluity for America, a time that was in the process of slipping away when Michael came back to the game. Could Michael Jordan reestablish American domination, or at least add fuel to a post-September 11 American comeback? And if he could at thirty-eight years old, carrying a group of players that included Tyrone Nesby, Popeye Jones, Hubert Davis, Richard Hamilton and Christian Laettner — a group far less talented than many he played with in Chicago — wouldn't that make for a tale that could elevate the Jordan domination well beyond his last-shot-in-Utah legend?

Here lies the drama within Michael Jordan's Third Coming. Those close to him had heard Jordan talk for the eighteen months prior to his return about how he had not hit his last shot yet. He was chasing one more, and the reason he always made for the greatest theater in sports was because of his relentless push to validate "it," it for Michael being the will or the mystique or the rabbit. So you can fathom how Jordan can look at all this commotion over his return and less than a month into his comeback boast, "Nothing has changed since I've been gone."

What has changed, however, is that for the first time in the history of Michael Jordan, not everybody is so sure he can hit that last shot, and that those who insist he has set the obstacles higher than even he can overcome include those closest to him. Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, Jordan's two best friends in the game and really the only two who have always been truly honest with MJ the past eighteen years, expressed their doubts publicly and privately. Magic perhaps spoke for the masses by watching the first few games of the Third Coming and saying, "This is not the Michael Jordan I want to remember." And the one person who was Michael's greatest enabler in all his championship seasons added his reservations about whether there is still mystique in Michael.

"I don't think we're ever going to see that person who elicited those responses of, I've never seen this before,'" Phil Jackson related after watching Michael roller-coaster through the preseason.

Opening night does little to change that perspective. The reviews include commentary describing Michael as looking more like a burly traffic cop than a lithe shooting guard and calling his play a slower, smarter game played way below the rim. One observer notes, "Once able to defy gravity, he never got twelve inches off the ground against the New York Knicks." For Michael, this night ends having to answer his critics with dark glasses covering his eyes — and who can forget the last time he dressed like this: that interview during halftime of Game One of the 1993 NBA Finals when he tried to spindoctor gambling forays that supposedly cast him betting up to one million dollars on a round of golf. When Michael states the obvious, you know he's hiding something behind the Foster Grants. His first answer, in which he admitted, "Obviously, I'm a little older than the last time I shot the basketball," is the first whiff of self-deprecation he will use this season to defray talk of deterioration. More revealing of just how uncertain Jordan is about the season comes with his concluding statement about what he expects from here. "No one knows," he says. "Everyone speculates. But no one knows."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from One Last Shot by Mitchell Krugel. Copyright © 2002 Mitchell Krugel. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mitchell Krugel has been a sports writer, sports columnist and sports editor for the past twenty years. He has been writing about Michael Jordan since 1986 when he authored a mass-market biography on the then-rising star. He worked at The Times of Munster, Indiana from 1991-94 when he covered the Chicago Bulls beat in addition to serving as sports editor. Following turns at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Antonio Express-News, he became an Assistant Managing Editor for The Record in Bergen County, New Jersey. Since 1991, his sports sections have been honored among the ten best in the nation by Associated Press Sports Editors seven times. He lives in Oakland, New Jersey with his wife Mary and their four-year-old daughter Brittany.


Mitchell Krugel has been a sports writer, sports columnist and sports editor for the past twenty years. He has been writing about Michael Jordan since 1986 when he authored a mass-market biography on the then-rising star. He worked at The Times of Munster, Indiana from 1991-94 when he covered the Chicago Bulls beat in addition to serving as sports editor. Following turns at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Antonio Express-News, he became an Assistant Managing Editor for The Record in Bergen County, New Jersey. Since 1991, his sports sections have been honored among the ten best in the nation by Associated Press Sports Editors seven times. He lives in Oakland, New Jersey with his wife Mary and their four-year-old daughter Brittany.

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One Last Shot: The Story of Michael Jordan's Comeback 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One Last Shot By: Mitchell Krugel The Last Shot is about Michael Jordan. The genre of this book is sports. To most, he is the best player to ever play the game of basketball. Everybody thinks he never struggled in his life. He retired three times in his career. Michael Jordan to me is the greatest athlete to play sports. The main character in The Last Shot is of course Michael Jordan. Other people that Mitchell Krugel involved was James and Delores Jordan. He also says a little about his brother and sister. Of course Michael had a million critics. This mans friends were the worst of them. You might even of heard of his friends Charles Barkley and Larry Bird. This really broke Mr. Jordan¿s heart hearing his friends talking about his game. Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. His parents are named James and Delores Jordan. He has one brother and one sister. James and Delores worked hard to move their family from the mean streets of Brooklyn to Wilmington, North Carolina. They felt Wilmington would be a better place to raise a family. They thought Brooklyn would do harm to the children. . When Michael was growing up, he loved to play baseball, and basketball. As a kid in baseball, he played pitcher and the outfield. In basketball, he was only able to play guard. At age twelve, he was the top player of his league. As a sophomore, he was only 5¿10. He was the quarterback for the Laney JV team. He also played on the JV basketball team. He was too short to play on the varsity. When a player was injured, Michael always thought he would play. The problem was he gave up six inches. Eventually his junior year he went from 5¿10 to 6¿3. This is what got him to the varsity level. This book was written nice by the author. He never put him down and he just prasd Michael his whole career. The only way this book can be written better is to hear Michael Jordan hitting his last shot. However, he air balled, and he will never be able to play in the MLB or in the NBA. It will never be the same without him.
matthewshapiro 11 months ago
Mitchell Krugel is a sports writer who has written books on Michael Jordan and has followed Michael for almost his entire career. The book explains Jordan's career and why he decided to make his comeback to the court. There are parts of the book that talk about Jordan at his best of times and his worst of times. I learned a lot of background information about Jordan and several choices he made throughout his career. I liked this book because I am a huge Michael Jordan fan and Mitchell Krugel explains his feelings and emotions that have never been exposed to the public eye before. It was very interesting to me to see that one of the greatest players of all time actually had struggles and faced hardships. I would recommend this book to basketball enthusiasts and people who have followed Michael Jordan's career. I would also recommend this book to people who believe they are not successful enough to achieve their goals. Jordan did not make his high school basketball team but that did not stop him from pursuing his dream. He is now considered one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. Jordan is an inspiration to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey