Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist Greene ( He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own ) is by nature a hero-worshipper, and he surely found a figure worthy of adulation in Chicago Bulls basketball superstar Michael Jordan. Over the course of two seasons (in which Chicago won two championships and Jordan was twice named the most valuable player in the NBA), Greene and Jordan conversed about many subjects, but principally about the athlete's adjustment to fame; his mostly unpublicized charitable contributions; and his reaction to adverse publicity, much of it undeserved. Jordan is candid (his teammates are not his friends), careful of his image (he always meets the media in a suit after the games) and relatively down-to-earth. Greene's unreserved admiration for his hero, meanwhile, successfully disguises this writer's tendency toward self-congratulation. An unusual sports book and a very good one. First serial to Life magazine. (Nov.)
Greene, the popular syndicated columnist for the "Chicago Tribune", landed a column straight out of college at the late, lamented "Chicago Daily News". It was the late 1960s, with the youthful counterculture in its prime and green supplied "the young person's perspective." From those flower-powery beginnings through today, Greene has always written about his reactions to a story rather than the story itself. Unfortunately, what sometimes works in a newspaper column becomes oppressive at book length--that has been the rule for most of Greene's forays into hardcovers, and it holds true here. Ostensibly about basketball star Michael Jordan and his friendship with Greene, this book is really only about Greene. Jordan and the success of his team, the Chicago Bulls, serve as mere catalysts for Greene's emergence from a professional funk. Here's the condensed version: the world is bad; Michael is good. Michael's grace both on and off the court took Greene's mind off "an era of cynicism and self-induldgence." It's hard to aggressively dislike a book that celebrates Michael Jordan, but, at the same time, it's hard to praise this one. While perhaps less smarmy than some of Greene's previous works (see "Good Morning, Merry Sunshine"), "Hang Time" is, finally, just another fawning sports biography dressed up with what's intended to significance but is actually just narcissistic angst and talk-show psychobabble. Michael Jordan's greatest triumph may well have be to have survived Bob Greene.
Ruminative analysis of Olympic and NBA superstar Michael Jordan, by bestselling Chicago Tribune columnist Greene (Homecoming, 1988, etc.). This is far from a typical sports-hero bio. On-court heroics and megabucks (Jordan makes up to $128 million annually) play little part; instead, Greene seems to enter Jordan's psyche in a simple, personal way. It begins with their mutual interest in brightening the life of a battered child and the discovery of shared concerns that have nothing to do with sports. Sometimes long-winded and overexplanatory, Greene nevertheless has the gifts of modesty and genuine interest in other people, clearly at work in creating this revealing portrait of what it's like to live with a talent who is reinventing basketball much the way Charlie Parker reinvented the alto saxophone. It's lonely and there's no privacy, says Jordanyour friends are people you met 20 years ago, and the normal activities of getting a haircut or going to the mall for aspirin are gone. "You can feel the eyes...it's like the eyes are burning into you. It never goes away." And it's a fast life, where the skinny showoff rookie of eight years ago is an amusing stranger now, a source of nostalgia to today's thoughtful professional. Greene catches Jordan's respect for old coach Dean Smith; what it was like not making the team back in high school; and Jordan's reaction when Bulls coach Phil Jackson decides not to go to him in the clutch. The author also reveals why Jordan enjoys golf so much, and, in a remarkable scene that speaks worlds, what it was like being in the room with an exhausted Jordan and his sleeping wife when the '92 championship looked as if it were slipping away. Engaging andlikely to sell very big, but one caveat: Greene gets close to Jordan but closer to Greene, and spends a little too much time there. (Photos12 b&wnot seen.)