The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball

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The definitive book on the greatest game in the history of college basketball, and the dramatic road both teams took to get there.

March 28, 1992. The final of the NCAA East Regional, Duke vs. Kentucky. The 17,848 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the millions watching on TV could say they saw the greatest game and the greatest shot in the history of college basketball. But it wasn't just the final play of the game-an 80-foot inbounds bass from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner...

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The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball

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Overview

The definitive book on the greatest game in the history of college basketball, and the dramatic road both teams took to get there.

March 28, 1992. The final of the NCAA East Regional, Duke vs. Kentucky. The 17,848 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the millions watching on TV could say they saw the greatest game and the greatest shot in the history of college basketball. But it wasn't just the final play of the game-an 80-foot inbounds bass from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner with 2.1 seconds left in overtime- that made Duke's 104-103 victory so memorable. The Kentucky and Duke players and coaches arrived at that point from very different places, each with a unique story to tell.

In The Last Great Game, acclaimed ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski tells their stories in vivid detail, turning the game we think we remember into a drama filled with suspense, humor, revelations and reverberations. The cast alone is worth meeting again: Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bobby Hurley, Jamal Mashburn, Christian Laettner, Sean Woods, Grant Hill, and Bobby Knight. Timed for the game's 20th anniversary, The Last Great Game isn't a book just for Duke or Kentucky or even basketball fans. It's a book for any reader who can appreciate that great moments in sports are the result of hard work, careful preparation, group psychology, and a little luck.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 1992 NCAA East Regional final between Duke University and the University of Kentucky is considered one of the best basketball games of all time, one that ended with the improbable. With just over two seconds left in overtime, Grant Hill threw a perfect 80-foot inbounds pass to Christian Laettner, who made the game-winning basket over two defenders as time expired. As compelling as this historic game was, so were the backgrounds of the teams involved. Kentucky was thought to be years away from a Final Four berth, but head coach Rick Pitino and his punishing game plan resurrected a scandal-plagued program. Duke, coming off a national championship, was a perennial powerhouse whose driven players were convinced another title was theirs. Wojciechowski, a senior reporter for ESPN.com, traces the two teams’ path to each other and the game’s impact on its participants, but little space is devoted to the hypothesis promised in the title. We never learn how this legendary tilt influenced college basketball or why it’s the defining game in an intensely popular sport. Though fans of both colleges will lap up the locker room tales and glory day remembrances, Wojciechowski’s effort reads too much like a prodigiously reported magazine article. 16-page color insert. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Thorough chronicle of the legendary 1992 NCAA basketball tournament clash between Duke and Kentucky. Duke's last-second triumph over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA East Regional is one of the most indelible moments in the history of college sports. Most college-basketball fans remember where they were when Duke's Christian Laettner sank the miracle game-winning shot. Veteran ESPN columnist Wojciechowski (co-author, with Jerome Bettis: The Bus, 2008, etc.) tells the story of the game, and the two teams' seasons leading up to it, with a newspaperman's eye for detail. Arguably college basketball's most iconic program, Kentucky, under new coach Rick Pitino, wasn't even supposed to be a threat for the championship, just two seasons removed from crippling NCAA sanctions over widespread rules infractions. Duke, the defending NCAA champions, were on their way to becoming a modern dynasty under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The author explores the backgrounds and personalities of the opposing coaches and key players including, Kentucky's freshman superstar Jamal Mashburn and Duke's Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley. Wojciechowski neatly deals with the problem of a book-length exploration of a single game by retelling it twice, once from each team's perspective. Though it obviously cannot compare with the excitement of watching the action, the book ably recaptures the energy of one of sport's greatest moments. In Laettner, a villain to everyone except Duke fans, including some of his own teammates, the author finds a surprisingly complex protagonist, and the story's most intriguing character. A fitting, illuminating tribute to a game that many believe was the best ever.
Sean Callahan
The Last Great Game is entertaining, and, in [Christian] Laettner, Wojciechowski has found a character worth building a book around.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399158575
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/5/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Gene Wojciechowski is a senior national columnist for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Prior to joining ESPN in 1992, he worked as a sports reporter for publications including the Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, and the L.A. Times. He has received four Associated Press Sports Editors National Writing Awards, among other honors, for his work. He has also authored and co-authored various sports books, including The Bus, a bestselling biography of Jerome Bettis. A former Duke hater, Wojciechowski has made peace with the Blue Devils. He lives in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Loved it. But then again, I'm a Dukie

    Growing up up in Kansas, I wanted desperately to go to Duke. I got in, but when the scholarship and financial aid package came through, it just wasn't going to be enough. I would have been a freshman with Grant and Thomas Hill, and since I played trombone and tuba in the band ( as I did 4 years later when I went there for law school), likely would have been at that game and the Final Four. Instead I watched it on tv from my dorm at SMU. But had I been there in person, I would have an incredible sports memory, but would not have my wonderful husband, family, friends, and my own college memories from here in Dallas. So I am happy to experience The Game watching replays every March and reading this engaging book.

    So of course I loved the behind the scenes detail. But I also enjoyed the Kentucky story. I don't really remember them being so down and out, and how likeable that team really was. If their heart can take it, I would recommend this to a Kentucky fan too, and anyone else who loves college basketball.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Basketball

    I am a HUGE kentucky fan! Even though we didn't win that game we did win the 2012 National Championship! OH YEAH! Big blue nation! l:D

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    One of the best sports books that I have read in years. Even tho

    One of the best sports books that I have read in years. Even though I knew most of the story, it was
    a great re-visit and well woven together......an outstanding read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    College hoops fans will enjoy this one.

    An entertaining story of the two coaches and teams that played in the memorable NCAA Eastern finals game in 1992 in the Philly Palestra. Particularly intriguing is the story of the rebirth of University of Kentucky basketball under Rick Pitino after scandals had kept them out of post-season play for a couple of years. I went to college in Kentucky and I know Kentucky state pride revolves around UK hoops.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Cccccccccooooooooollllllllllllllllll

    Best bbbbbboooookkkk eeevvveeerrr

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Awsome book!

    I love this book I am a Duke fan all the way. Even if you don't like Duke or Kentucky, this is a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    Highly Recommend for basketball fans.....

    Ok, I'm a die-hard Duke fan, my husband was one of the original blue faced Cameron Crazies from 1982...but I have to say whether you hate or love Duke basketball this is an outstanding sports book about a once in a lifetime game. Duke was the perfect storm in 1992. They shut up the ever mouthy Kentucky obsessive fans and then simply outclassed the Michigan five (no way I'll call them fabulous). Wojciechowski writes with as much respect and passion for both KY and Duke programs. Players come alive and you can feel the excitement of each moment of the season and this game. It was a time that no longer exists in college basketball....now they play one then gone... The beauty of college basketball has certainly changed and not for the better. But Duke fans will always have those two back to back championship seasons and now have this book. Thanks for the memories of this wonderful game Mr. Wojciechowski!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Very good stories about two great teams

    This book descrbes much more than just the 1992 regional finals game between two schools with storied basketball history. The reader will be introduced and learn abouth the personalities of key players on each team. Not only do you learn about Jamaal Mashburn's journey to escape the projects but also about Grant Hill's persoanl demons despite his more comfortable childhood. The Untouchables for Kentucky is also a great story as those players helped to bring Kentucky basketball back from purgatory.

    My only criticism of the book is that it glosses over much of the regulation portion of the game itself. Yes we all remember Wood's bank shot and then the legendary pass by Grant Hill and Laetner's shot...but there was much more that made it one of the greatest sports events of our time. The in-depth stories of the playersand coaches more than make up for that proble, however and I would recommend this book for any college basketball fan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Great Book

    Terrific book. Love the backstories about all the players. Duke is one of my favorite basketball teams and is tied with Johns Hopkins for my 2nd favorite lacrosse team. Inspiring story about Grant Hill. Only bad thing is there is an abnormal amount of swearing in this book. 13 years of age and up. Overall though I give it 5 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    Great read if you love hoops and grew up in the 80's and 90's!

    Loved the back stories to all the people involved with the 1992 game. I can still remember where I was when I watched that game, and the book was a great way to relive some of the past. Was a fast read and it did a great job of going back and forth between Kentucky and Duke and how they both got their teams to Philadelphia in March of 1992. Highly recommend this book to basketball lovers everywhere.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    You will love this one!

    Perfect for any college bb fan. I was a kid when the game went down and have always wanted to learn more about the inside of the programs and that game. This book quenched that thirst Big Time! An all time favorite for sure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Great book

    I enjoyed this book very much. The author did a great job of looking back at this unforelgetable game, the people involved, and the events that preceded and followed the game. It brought back a lot of memories while adding new information. I couldn't put it done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Christian lattnear andd grant hill

    Great book doe hard duke fan austin rivers now christi lattnear before duke all the way

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    My dad love basketball and he loves this bbooookkkk yeey

    Cool

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Go Duke

    *In game play announcing* "Kentucky should force hill to the left side to get less better shooting range. There's the pass to laettner puts it up. YEAH OH MY GOD!"

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  • Posted December 25, 2013

    Solidly researched. Well-written with personal but not overtly

    Solidly researched. Well-written with personal but not overtly biased style; the best part of this book is how compelling of a read it is despite the fact that the outcome is so well known. Worth the read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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