Lesson learned: Around Jordan, teammates saw price of fame

FILE - In this June 11, 1997 file photo, Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen, right, embraces an exhausted Michael Jordan following their win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, in Salt Lake City. The flu-like illness Jordan fought through to lead the Bulls to a crucial victory in the 1997 NBA Finals created instant fodder for the virtue of perseverance. Pushing past boundaries, overcoming obstacles and adversity — that is part of the ethos of major competitive sports. That is how elite athletes become wired to win.

Matt's take:  Add reading book on Jordan to your to-do list

My social media feeds were flooded with friends asking how they were going to fill the void left after the final episode of "The Last Dance" on Sunday.

It seems that 90% of the public loved the documentary on the success of the Chicago Bulls, while 10% called it a Michael Jordan puff-piece.

There's no denying MJ controlled the narrative in the series, but it was still fascinating (great soundtrack).

For anyone looking to learn more about Jordan, I strongly suggest reading, "When Nothing Else Matters," by Michael Leahy.

The book examines Jordan's second return to the NBA as a player, this time with Washington, after an unsuccessful stint running the Wizards' basketball operations. The team went 36-89 in the two years Jordan worked in the front office, which led to him trading his suit for a uniform at age 38.

Jordan is given the respect he earned, but Leahy doesn't kiss up to MJ. The story looks at an iconic athlete whose skills are in decline and whose notorious behavior toward teammates and search for vendettas are no longer enough to propel a floundering franchise to victories.

I first read the book a dozen years ago and this is my first time re-reading it. It paints a picture of an isolated man who is obsessed with winning.

A Chicago Tribune review that called the book "myth-shattering" originally sparked my interest in the book. It didn't let me down.

It could make you question if you want to Be Like Mike.

Vinny's take: Book about a high school basketball dynasty a must-read

Before Adrian Wojnarowski became Twitter famous for taking over timelines by breaking NBA news, he was chronicling the unlikely success story of a high school basketball team.

Wojnarowski’s book “The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty” has been a must-read for hoop heads since its release in 2005, earning four- or five-star reviews from 96% of submissions on Amazon. It remains entertaining and relevant some 15 years later. 

In less than 400 pages, Wojnarowski details the former probation officer turned legendary coach’s devotion to the tough neighborhoods around Jersey City N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York City, and a small Catholic school that enrolled roughly 250 students and fought a yearly financial battle to stay open.

Given the circumstances, Hurley’s successes with the Friars could be deemed, well, miraculous. St. Anthony boasted 28 state championships and was named national champions four separate times by USA Today. The list of notable St. Anthony’s alumni includes Hurley’s sons Bobby, a standout at Duke and first-round NBA Draft pick who now coaches Arizona State, and Dan, who played at Seton Hall and coaches Connecticut. Other Friars to play in the NBA include Terry Dehere, Luther Wright, Roshown McLeod, Kyle Anderson and Tyshawn Taylor, but the team followed by Wojnarowski in 2003-04 featured a more ragtag squad.

The school ultimately lost its fight to stay open in 2017, which elevates the importance of “The Miracle of St. Anthony,” an excellent combination of subject and storyteller.

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