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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

By the Book: Showtime

I graduated from high school more than 20 years ago. Still, as sports fans, we can all enrich our fanhoods with a good book about one of our favorite sports subjects. There are few topics in sports history more fascinating or important to the development of a major North American sports than the Showtime era Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. Author Jeff Pearlman (once again) captivates the interest of sports fans with his tell-all book, "Showtime".
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WHAT YOU ALREADY KNEW

Magic Johnson was the centerpiece of the Showtime era in Lakers basketball. From how the Lakers acquired the pick to draft him to how he was convinced to leave Michigan State University a year early to enter the NBA to the backdrop of Magic's rivalry with Larry Bird in college and the pros, Peralman explores all things Magic.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the greatest players in NBA history, a vocal minority would argue the greatest. Kareem was also private and somewhat aloof. Many reports, after his carer was over, from those who covered him describe him as not necessarily the most likable person (or coworker) in the sporting lexicon. Pearlman goes into extensive detail on the background and behind-the-scenes persona of the enigmatic yet transcendent talent.

Former Lakers Coach Pat Riley was the captain of the Showtime ship. The GQ posterboy guided the Showtime dynasty to four NBA titles ad launched what is certain to be a Hall of Fame coaching career. "Showtime" discusses Riley's metamorphosis throughout the 1980's from a former player turned-announcer turned-assistant turned-head coach. Riley's rise and fall with the Lakers organization is a classic story of man's determination and shortcomings.

Dr. Jerry Buss is the Father of the Los Angeles Lakers as we know them today. What became showtime was Buss' vision. Pearlman extensively reveals how Buss made his unlikely Showtime dream into a reality.

This should surprise no one. 2
WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW

What even the most ardent Showtime Lakers fans don't know about this team could fill a book. That is what Jeff Pearlman did. His text is filled to the brim with stories, scandals, anecdotes, and secrets that only an author like Pearlman can deliver to the masses. The Showtime Lakers were like rock stars. The phrase "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" is a cliche for a reason. "Showtime" reveals why the 1980's Lakers were no exceptions.

There is a new, original, and often unbelievable tale of frat house mischief in every chapter. Cocaine is a "helluva" drug and the Lakers were not immune to its wonders - good, bad, and otherwise. There is sex, nightlife, sex, glamour, sex, fame, sex, and in case I forgot to mention it, more sex. Sex always sells, but it is also critical to the complete story of the Showtime Lakers. That roughly a quarter-century has passed since the end of the Showtime dynasty did little to silence the first-hand witnesses to the excitement and debauchery that was the backdrop of the Lakers' story.

There's more where this came from. 3
NO STONE UNTURNED

This book isn't just about the stars and the sensational. In addition to Magic, Kareem, and Riley, Pearlman writes about Buss, Jerry West, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, Bob McAdoo, Norm Nixon, trainers, P.R. people, draft busts, the former owner - Jack Kent Cooke, the X's and O's architect of Showtime (no, not Pat Riley) and many others with fascinating stories about all of them. Simply put: if you are familiar with Pearlman's work, you know what to expect and your expectations should be high. If you have never read any of his gems like the biography of the late Walter Payton and the story of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets, you will not be disappointed with "Showtime".
  
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1) Image from www.jeffpearlman.com
2) Image from www.complex.com
3) Image from www.tauntr.com
4) Image from http://losangeles.cbslocal.com

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