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Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s Hardcover – 4 Mar 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 482 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham Books (4 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592407552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592407552
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
‘Showtime’ by Jeff Pearlman is the story of one special generation of basketball players that those years , back in eighties, every fan of this sport knew starting lineup, while still this Lakers team in addition to the Jordan’s Bulls is taken as perhaps the best one of all times.

Jeff Pearlman on 500 pages of his book that brings back memories, speaks about the times when the NBA league was maybe the most interesting ever, when the best basketball was played, and the whole spectacle was still not about the money, but based on the excellence of players whose athletic skills fans of this sport enjoyed all around the world.

And although the length of the book may seem rather large, the book is read easily because each page offers a myriad of interesting details for the most part less known to the public that the author has collected over 300 interviews conducted with all the major ‘actors’ of that exciting time of basketball sport.

The book begins in an unusual way, with an interview the author conducted with Jack McKinney, or as he introduced him “…the greatest NB coach 999 of 1,000 basketball fans have never heard of” due to his short time spent in Lakers before he suffered a very dangerous head injury after falling while bicycling, replaced by his assistant, Paul Westhead, and never been able to made it back to Lakers bench not even after next year he received NBA Coach of the Year Award while leading the Indiana Pacers.

In the book remainder, author chronologically deals with the rule of Lakers team dividing it into three major parts – Development of a Dream, Dominance and Demise of a Dynasty - bringing a comprehensive overview of the events that marked not only this team from L.A., but the world of basketball in those years.
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By JT on 5 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great detail and behind the scene anecdotes. Well written and an entertaining read. I recommend this book for all Laker fans who remember "Showtime"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 155 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
RICK “SHAQ” GOLDSTEIN SAYS: “WHEN YOU HAVE SOMEONE LIKE MAGIC… YOU RUN EVERY CHANCE & UNDER EVERY POSSIBLE SITUATION” 6 Mar 2014
By Rick Shaq Goldstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have had the opportunity to visit the NBA Hall of Fame… one of the things you’ll see are displays dedicated to teams during specific times that were considered *DYNASTIES*… One of those dynasties was the 1980’s Showtime Lakers. Before I ordered this book… let alone before I read it… I looked at my personal library and counted over twenty books regarding the Lakers. I at first said… how much more can there be on a team from over thirty years ago… and then I reminisced about how I had enjoyed three other books I read by the author Jeff Pearlman on… the Dallas Cowboys… Walter Payton… and the steroid cheat… Roger Clemens. I ordered the book… and as this review will confirm… I am thrilled that I did.

What makes this book so worthwhile… even with the knowledge of what I read in all the prior books I owned… and in addition to attending many of the Showtime Lakers games in person at the Fabulous Forum… and the fact that I had even played in numerous pickup games against a number of the Laker players… were three main facts… first… Jeff Pearlman invested his time and energy in an exhausting amount of piercing… in depth interviews… secondly… his writing style is smooth yet exhilarating… the reader never gets the feeling as with many other authors… that they’re just trying to fill additional pages… and the third reason… is the fact that “time” itself… over thirty plus years… over a quarter of a century has passed… and that means literary morals have changed… and what is considered acceptable in everyday journalism has changed. So thirty years ago when a written word was published… there were moral limits as to what could be written. Some examples are… in the past an author might write that Kareem was not a friendly guy… but today you can quote someone like CBS reporter Pat O’Brien as saying: “Once you accepted that Kareem was a “P”… you could get past it.” (Note: there are no abbreviations in the book… but it has been my experience that Amazon won’t publish my reviews if I spell out what is in the book… some things never change!) The author can also state unequivocally that “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hated white people.” You can also have quotes regarding Jack Kent Cooke the man who owned the Lakers-The Forum-The Hockey Kings-and-The Washington Redskins… and who sold the Lakers to Jerry Buss… from Hot Rod Hundley… who said of Cooke… “The number one “A-H” who ever lived!”

This additional literary freedom is why even if you have over twenty Laker books… many covering this time frame and period… written by everyone from Magic… to Riley… to Kareem… to writers who spent their whole careers covering the Lakers… this book is almost like reading about the same fantastic dynasty with societies blinders removed. It’s all here… from the sale of the Lakers… to Magic’s megawatt nineteen year old smile… to Kareem… snarling… moping… and growing old… to Riley wearing out his welcome… to the women… the drugs… and with the author leading the “story-telling-fast-break”… the reader will feel like he’s James Worthy… filling the lane… out on the wing… as the author passes you one gem after another… at full speed… and like “Big-Game-James”… you will never break stride… as you score a great championship read!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Fabulous Showtime Lakers--Warts And All 19 Mar 2014
By TMStyles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Showtime" is an engrossingly entertaining retrospective look at the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. It is an astonishingly compelling book relating everything you thought you knew and much that you never knew about one of the most exciting professional basketball teams of all time. This is a book not to be missed by anyone who was a basketball fan during the 80's and, in particular, a Lakers fan of that fabulous era. Kareem, Magic, Wilkes, Michael Cooper, Spencer Haywood, Bob McAdoo, Mitch Kupchak, Norm Nixon, and so many others who transform a lethargic Laker franchise into perhaps the most entertaining, fast breaking, and dysfunctional professional team of all time.

Jeff Pearlman has clearly done his homework. There are references to interviews over a three year period with all the major characters who were part of the Laker magic and interviews with many who were involved in the league but watching from afar. We learn that Showtime was the brainchild of Jack McKinney, an innovative yet doomed head coach, who saw his fling at fame destroyed by a terrible bicycle accident. The lamentable Paul Westhead era that followed was controversial and certainly ugly at times, including the feeling that Magic Johnson was the real force who got him fired. The Pat Riley era began somewhat inauspiciously and ultimately blossomed into one of the most exciting and entertaining basketball teams in the history of the NBA.

Showtime really began when Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke, an owner content to be the overlord of a professional team that really didn't know its own identity or its potential. Buss changed that with his own personal desire to see a faster more entertaining game and his devotion to acquiring the young Earvin "Magic" Johnson to run his team and transform it into what quickly became known as Showtime.

"Showtime" chronicles the entire history of this era including flashbacks and behind the scenes looks at the interpersonal dynamics of the team, the coaches, and the owner. Having lived through this era and being a Laker and Celtic fan, a lot of what is represented in the book was known or at least assumed by the media but "Showtime" details the animosities, the friendships, the drug use, the wild sex, and the jealousies and pettiness of individual competitors. Norm Nixon versus Magic Johnson, the recalcitrant Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the drug addled Spencer Haywood, the front office mistakes of drafting the wrong individual, or making trades that alienated players. So much of what we saw (and didn't see) is revealed in "Showtime" to have been destructive beneath the surface.

Pearlman's book can be deeply satisfying at times, depressing and sad at times, and sometimes simply infuriating when reading of the people and the times of the Showtime Lakers. But, it all happened, and it is exhaustively chronicled in this can't-put-down look at the team that changed the face of modern-day professional basketball. If you were a fan of professional basketball and/or of the Lakers during this astonishing era of the ascendant Laker dynasty and you think you know its history, you need to read "Showtime". Pearlman's book examines this transcendent team not only on its entertaining surface, but with all the dysfunction that occurred behind closed doors revealed warts and all. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for sports fans in general and Laker fans in particular.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Few Errors, But Still a Great Retrospective 9 Mar 2014
By Eric Mayforth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As longtime fans of the NBA know, the league was revitalized in the 1980s by the arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and the rekindling of the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The Lakers won five NBA championships during the Eighties and were one of the most legendary teams ever. Author Jeff Pearlman already had one great retrospective on a larger-than-life team to his credit in Boys Will Be Boys, and with his new book on the Eighties Lakers now has another with "Showtime."

1979 was the year that the new-look Lakers took shape--the author recalls the acquisition of the franchise by Jerry Buss, the drafting of point guard Magic Johnson, and the new culture of enthusiasm and joy that Johnson's addition brought to a team that had been lethargic in its recent history.

Pearlman conducted numerous interviews with key personnel to provide the backstory on Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and all of the other key members of the Showtime Lakers, and traces the history of the club from 1979 through 1991, when Johnson retired after contracting HIV. The Lakers made nine NBA Finals appearances during that span, and "Showtime" recalls all of the rivalries the team was in and the playoff runs, those that resulted in titles as well as those that ended in disappointment.

The chemistry on those L.A. squads was usually good, but over the span of a decade issues inevitably come up, and the book describes the incidents that led to the departure of some of the players as well as to the firings of coaches Paul Westhead and Pat Riley. Laker legend Jerry West was at the helm as general manager, and the book recalls the moves that he made (and trades he didn't make) that kept the team at or near the top.

As well as remembering what happened on the court, Pearlman describes the parties and lifestyle the players lived off of it--during those years even visiting players looked forward to their trips to The Forum and the post-game trips to the Forum Club in the arena.

"Showtime" isn't perfect--there are several factual errors with regard to statistics, dates, and scores. But even longtime fans will learn things they didn't know, including which famous coach almost was hired by the team in the summer of 1979. Younger fans would enjoy reading about one of the most important teams in league history, and Gen Xers (even Celtics fans like me) for whom the NBA meant too much (well, OK, way too much) during stretches of high school and college will learn a lot by reading "Showtime."
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not only a great sports story that will delight fans of basketball, but a story of another type of show 6 Mar 2014
By Denis Vukosav - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
‘Showtime’ by Jeff Pearlman is the story of one special generation of basketball players that those years , back in eighties, every fan of this sport knew starting lineup, while still this Lakers team in addition to the Jordan’s Bulls is taken as perhaps the best one of all times.

Jeff Pearlman on 500 pages of his book that brings back memories, speaks about the times when the NBA league was maybe the most interesting ever, when the best basketball was played, and the whole spectacle was still not about the money, but based on the excellence of players whose athletic skills fans of this sport enjoyed all around the world.

And although the length of the book may seem rather large, the book is read easily because each page offers a myriad of interesting details for the most part less known to the public that the author has collected over 300 interviews conducted with all the major ‘actors’ of that exciting time of basketball sport.

The book begins in an unusual way, with an interview the author conducted with Jack McKinney, or as he introduced him “…the greatest NB coach 999 of 1,000 basketball fans have never heard of” due to his short time spent in Lakers before he suffered a very dangerous head injury after falling while bicycling, replaced by his assistant, Paul Westhead, and never been able to made it back to Lakers bench not even after next year he received NBA Coach of the Year Award while leading the Indiana Pacers.

In the book remainder, author chronologically deals with the rule of Lakers team dividing it into three major parts – Development of a Dream, Dominance and Demise of a Dynasty - bringing a comprehensive overview of the events that marked not only this team from L.A., but the world of basketball in those years. In this sense, this book is not just for Lakers fans, for those who enjoyed the mastership of Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, their legendary coach Pat Riley or the rest of the team that ruled for 12 years, but also about the world and show business these years that from this perspective seems so far away.

‘Showtime’ by Jeff Pearlman Showtime is therefore not only a great sports story that will delight fans of basketball, but a story about a time when people with pleasure went into the halls or sat in front of the TVs enjoying another type of show than today.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Skip Bayless level writing 12 May 2014
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
ESPN and talk radio gave us a generation of sports commentators who rely on extreme opinions rather than facts and yelling rather than analysis. This book is that sort of writing.

How many times do you want to read that Magic loved sex, Kareem was standoffish and other Lakers loved cocaine? This book would be much better if it were 70% shorter--unless you don't remember that the Lakers played the 76ers,Celtics, Pistons and Bulls in the finals. Sadly, there are also numerous factual errors.

Like so many authors, Pearlman is much harder on those who gave him extensive interviews than those who did not. He is brutal to Jabbar, but, astonishingly, having repeatedly written of Magic having had sex with thousands of women, does not bother to even mention the impact on those women of the revelation that Magic contracted HIV.
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