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Michael Jordan: The Life

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,800 ratings  ·  484 reviews
The definitive biography of a legendary athlete

The Shrug. The Shot. The Flu Game. Michael Jordan is responsible for sublime moments so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. When most people think of him, they think of his beautiful shots with the game on the line, his body totally in sync with the ball -- hitting nothing but net.

But for all his great
Hardcover, 720 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  4,800 ratings  ·  484 reviews

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Mark Skousen
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Michael Jordan, The Life," by Roland Lazenby. I listened to the audio book, which was excellent. At first I thought the biography was hagiographic, highlighting the incredible drive, sacrifice and overcoming the odds for Michael Jordan to achieve six rings and transform the NBA into the international franchise it is today. It truly is a remarkable story, and it was fun looking back on the "good old days" of Bird, Magic, the Bad Boys, and Jordan's Bulls, when the NBA was more raucous. Jordan has ...more
Kelly  (UnshelvedEdition)
In many interviews, Michael Jordan often jokes that there isn’t much he can say tell you about himself that hasn’t already been written. “The Life” takes you on a journey of Michael’s life dating back to his great grand parents and progresses through his parents life, his childhood, etc.
I always find that the most interesting things to learn about a celebrity or athlete are those random stories from a college room mate, or the fact that they are afraid of water (slight spoiler). I enjoy that a l
Barnabas Piper
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically written. Lazenby's work was masterful. Jordan is every bit as complex and fascinating as you'd expect. This bio is akin to Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs in terms of scope and depth. ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think I would read another book about Jordan after reading The Jordan Rules (Sam Smith) and Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made (David Halberstam). As Lazenby himself admits in the acknowledgments, there are so many books written about Jordan that he has practically has a genre. However, after reading Lazenby's Reddit AMA, I pulled the trigger and preordered the book.

I don't think there's going to be a better book about Jordan's life and career so holistically. Whil
Gretchen Rubin
Although I know nothing about basketball, like many people, I loved the documentary series Last Dance, and I became very intrigued by the character of Michael Jordan—and particularly, trying to figure out his Tendency. So I read this biography, which didn't shed much light on that question. I think Jordan is either an Upholder or a Rebel, and I can't tell which! What do you think? ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely thorough.
Took longer than expected to read but it was an experience. I stopped reading sometimes to watch/rewatch games and plays I read about on youtube. It's a good tome on Jordan. Lazenby was fair and objective. Learned so much more about Jordan, the Bulls and the NBA. So well written researched and written. People who saw me reading this book would ask me if it was as good as the Jordan Rules: first, anyone who is a MJ or Phil Jackson fan knows that book is despised. second, there
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't normally write reviews but this one I felt I needed to. I'm going to start by saying how informative it was and definitely reassured me of why Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time. His work ethic is insane and with the talent he had was unstoppable. Also cool how there have been stories/rumours about him over time that were explained which I felt tied things together. So overall did good in aspects.

However, I felt this book could've been so much better. It felt like the book was
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Basketball fans, Jordanites, Pop-culture fans
Weird to say that a book this big feels short, but that is definitely the feeling I got. The book tells a good synopsis of Jordan’s life, yet I never feel like anything is given the appropriate amount of depth. So many aspects of Jordan can be explored in entire books, and many have, that I can see the challenge in condensing all that into a single book. However, many important events seemed to be skimmed over and rushed through. I think what anyone reading about Jordan wants to know is, where h ...more
Hunter Oda
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Michael Jordan: The Life is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. It starts all the way from Michael Jordan’s great grandfather and talks all the way up through Michael Jordan’s life and his basketball career. As explained by Roland Lazenby, “Michael Jordan books are as common as internet cat videos,” but Lazenby’s book is still different from all the others and in my opinion better. Normally I don’t have the commitment to read a book that is any more than 250 pages because I will get bor ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As a die-hard Jordan fan, I really enjoyed this book. I loved that Lazenby touched on the genealogy of Jordan's background as a means of further explaining the driving forces within him–both good and bad.

And while Lazenby doesn't make Jordan into the most likable character, at times, you never get the sense that he was trying to paint a negative portrait of the former NBA star. If anything, you gained a better understanding of the man behind the legend, and walked away from the book feeling as
Vagelis Kotsonis
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
A bit extended but as the story unfolds I couldn’t stop reading, especially when I entered the period I was aware of. It is a biography focused on everyone around MJ, sometimes leaving him aside which allows you to observe and understanding who he is/was. I recommend it as I feel it is a book that makes a myth look humane but at the same time inspires the reader just by mentioning all the things he and his teams have been through.

Highly recommended for anyone that manages teams of talented indi
Tom LA
Oct 10, 2018 added it
DNF. Too many references to the basketball world that flew right above my head.
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: researchers of piecemeal fact
It's been some months since I finished this book, and I am only now getting around to reviewing it. It's very blah, and I say that as a biography fan, as a basketball and sportswriting fan, as a Michael Jordan fan, and as someone who enjoyed Phil Jackson's Eleven Rings tremendously. Lazenby's research and interview seems extensive, yet his book still comes across as lazy and incomplete. Sometimes it's the little things that annoy me, and I'm about to be petty, so bear with me. At page 453, Lazen ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about this book when it was recommended on the What Should I Read Next podcast. Having recently watched The Last Dance, I was intrigued and requested it from the library. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to own this book so I could read it at my leisure and not rush through the details.

Fascinating stuff.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Michael Jordan’s championships run starting in 1991/92 season coincided with my move to the States. A budget oriented sports junkie with no understanding of neither football nor baseball, Chicago’s WGN provided a sustainable fix as part of the economy cable. This book gave a deep understanding of what it took to build that amazing Chicago team I have admired so much in those years. This book is very pro Jordan, and would not be enjoyed by people looking for a more balanced view of the Legend. I ...more
Martin Stoyanov
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book ! Recomend it to everyone.
Justin Tapp
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lazenby was apparently able to roll together chapters from previous books about Michael and the Bulls together with new information into this comprehensive 700 page biography of the Greatest of All Time. It spans from Jordan's ancestry all the way to his caustic Hall of Fame acceptance speech and failures as Charlotte owner.

I grew up in the Jordan Era, had The Dunk on my wall, wore Nike everything, and watched Bulls games on NBC and WGN religiously. This book includes every anecdote and story I
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
At first I was intimidated by the length of this book. Almost 700 pages on just one basketball player? The biographies I have for Einstein and Benjamin Franklin aren't even that long! But this tome is actually very readable and I breezed through it in two weeks, which given my usual reading speed is quite impressive and speaks well to the author's straightforward, easy prose. At the same time, there is plenty of depth and insight throughout.

The story of Michael Jordan told in this book starts ba
Andres Gonzalez C
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Must read if you love sports and basketball! I take away MJ competitiveness, hard work and focus.
Joe Cundiff
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading a Roland Lazenby book is like dancing through time. The Life takes us back through the four generations preceding the birth of MJ, and beyond into the magical life of perhaps the most prolific figure in all of sports. This is a must read!
Charlie Grozier
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Brett Monge
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
De-mythologizing the greatest legend in basketball.

When I was a kid, Michael Jordan was my hero. I picked up this book excited to learn more about his life and the legacy that he will leave behind.

Michael Jordan is an enigma, probably most of all to himself. He’s a man who has everything that the world could ever offer, and at the same time seems to have little to nothing in his life of true value. The game of basketball gave him everything during his tenure with the Bulls, and then took away
John Elliott
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
By objective standards, not a great biography(limited sources, abrupt ending, etc.). But because I was so interested in the subject, I couldn’t put it down. A good primer for the Bulls doc coming out this summer.
Matthew Semaan
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I recently read Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby. I chose this book for my passion of basketball. Michael Jordan is an iconic figure of the game of basketball and he is a huge inspiration to all. Michael Jordan is a role model of mine even though I never got to watch him. His impact on the game of basketball will be forever engraved and never forgotten. He is a role model of all athletes and for most of his career he led a good example.

In this book Michael Jordan's life is explained i
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, excellence
A great read for those interested in performance psychology -- in other words, for those intrigued by the works of Anders Ericsson and want to better understand the habits and mental attributes needed to achieve excellence. Lazenby's focus is on Jordan the Competitor. He introduces us to Jordan's great-grandparents and describes how their competitive spirit was passed down through the generations, culminating in one of the most extraordinary figures of the last 100 years. Lazenby recounts the hi ...more
Rahul Desai
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the book Michael Jordan: The Life, had some great moments in them. A couple were how they talked about him getting cut and bouncing back from it. The only downfall was how they didn't talk about his not so good moments. The thing I was looking most forward to was to see if they would talk about his gambling addiction, but they didn't say that. I wish the author would interview his former teammates to see how he was as a teammate. The author did do a good job describing Michaels childhood. I w ...more
Sidik Fofana
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: Michael Jordan's life has written itself. ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2018
Most of the biographies I've read are about people who are dead. I had picked this up at Barnes & Noble one day I was in there. It was so good that every time I came in there over the course of a couple months I kept reading it. Finally, I just bought it.

The thing that really attracts me to biographies is that you get to see people for who they really are. I'll admit that it's not all fun and games. But it shows that we're ALL human. All of us are victims of circumstances, failures, and success
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
To put it simply, this book was fantastic. I am a long-time MJ fan & grew up idolizing him like most 90s kids. I read many sports books and have read more than a few specifically on him but this was easily the best. Finally a book that not only notes his undeniable accomplishments on the court, but also one that delves into why he is so frequently considered "complex." Not that I needed any additional fuel, but this book only made me like him more (didn't think that was possible). It was detaile ...more
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent biography covering the full range of Jordan's life until now, including an interesting look at some of his ancestors. There is new information and details here for even the most diehard Jordan fan. His father doesn't come across too well, Phil Jackson's manipulation is revealed to a surprising degree, and some context is given to many of the Jordan myths out there. In some ways it is too complementary to Jordan, particularly around his baseball career and work with the Wizar ...more
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Roland Lazenby is an American sportswriter and educator.

Lazenby has written more than five dozen nonfiction books, mainly about basketball and American football. He has also contributed articles to magazines and newspapers.

Lazenby's book Bull Run! was named Sports Book of the Year for 1997 by the Independent Publishers Association.

Lazenby studied at Virginia Military Institute and Hollins Universi

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