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The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  7,793 ratings  ·  180 reviews
One of the most successful coaches in the history of professional basketball offers his own take on his turbulent 2003-2004 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 17th 2005 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  7,793 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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3.5 Stars - The Zen master himself adds a unique & wise perspective on the journey of that “final” season. The highlight being that rather than being a mere self aggrandisement, this book offers more about the “how” than you would ever think shared to the gen pop. Phil’s words always cut through the tissue and nestle into your uncomfortable space, this is no different, apart from the fact that it is done with plentiful & contagious altruism from go to woe..

In the end, what keeps this form being
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Appealing account of Phil Jackson's last season coaching the Lakers. Lots about Kobe and Shaq, and about Jackson's dating a Lakers VP who is also the owner's daughter--that must have been weird.

I had no idea that Shaquille O'Neal is such a delicate little passion flower. He weighs 340, and apparently it's extremely draining to carry all that muscle around. He gets fouled more than anyone else in the league, he has to wear a three-pound orthotic in each shoe, plus he's really sensitive and his f
Brian O'Leary
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Decent account, but I really wanted more insight into the inner workings, not just retelling me what happened.
Jana Singley
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book "The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul", by Phil Jackson was a spectacular book. It was about the last season of Phil Jackson coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. This book talked a great deal about the feud between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He spoke about how this season was different than the previous seasons when the team was winning championships. He mentioned how many people doubted his way of coaching and how that impacted the team and the organization as a whole. He t ...more
Danny Gibson
Sep 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I love Phil Jackso. Sacred Hoops and 11 Rings are some of my favorite basketball books, but the Last Season is just a very high level diary of the 03-04 Lakers.
Michael Scott
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Having read Sacred Hoops, I knew a bit about the philosophy about life and basketball of Phil Jackson---it's "Zen plus 1980s American equals winning, baby". I was thus interested to read about his book on the losing season, albeit in the NBA Finals, with the talented Lakers team of the 2003-2004. The Last Season has bits about them all: the passion, the travails, the fratricide, the loss.

Before discussing the book, a bit of (NBA) basketball history is needed. Prior to "the last season", Phil Jac
I really enjoyed this book; although I actually did the audio version rather than the paperback. (Phil doesn't read it; normally I prefer the author to read their own book, but given the timber of his voice, it's probably for the best that he didn't.) I would have given it 5 stars, but during the playoff section it turned into an almost play-by-play recap of scores and stats, which just does not make for a great story.

The rest of the book does mention numbers and stats, but they're provided more
Jay Rain
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rating - 8.7

Journalistic style creates a nice flow that would not have been captured in a regular format - would expect that more athletes adopt this form of storytelling; Surprising the amount of Kobe-bashing

Appreciative that Jackson bares all rather than the holding back approach that celebrities normally produce; Fascinating for the back-office politics/dissension of the Lakers team to be exposed like this

Interesting Thoughts
Phil Jackson wanted to sign Scottie Pippen instead of Payton and Mal
Michael P
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Got this book from a friend, and being a longtime Laker fan, gave it a read, though knowing the ultimate result (a loss in the NBA Finals) would not be a happy one.

This is a diary of the 2004-05 Lakers season, which ended with a loss to the Pistons in the NBA Finals and Jackson's departure as head coach (which, as it turned out, lasted just one season).
The book recount the high hopes going into the season, with the acquisitions of Karl Malone and Gary Payton, and how they played out. The story i
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for NBA fans. Phil Jackson gives an inside look into the talented Lakers roster that had so much problems with execution, injuries and even team spirit, but still somehow managed to grind it out to the Finals.

Being a coach is never easy, and getting a team of 12-15 men to bond and work towards a goal unselfishly is tougher than it seems, especially in this NBA league where everyone is more about salary, contract and highlight reels over teamwork, passing and defense.

It's such a sham
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I needed a light read before taking on some Gabor Mate & Dostoyevsky. Phil's author voice is frank yet reflective in this linear chronicle of the tail end of the Kobe/Shaq era. I equate his presence to talking to an older, wiser friend. A true human being that has manage to avoid the traps of stardom and hype, thereby preserving his core. I was refreshed to hear from someone who brings a larger world into what they do. A few very surprising revelations, that I won't spoil here, but it gave a new ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Before reading this book I was in agreement with those who downgrade Phil Jackson's coaching achievements due to the fact that he's had players like Jordan, Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe. However, after reading this book I have a new appreciation for the type of management it took to deal with all those egos (especially during the season that is the subject of this book).

I also really enjoyed Phil's take on the Shaq-Kobe feud and also on Kobe's obsession with Michael Jordan.
J. Ewbank
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, a-good-read
This is a book about professionsl backetball. It is also a book about life. Phil Jackson has written a very interesting, introspective and rewarding book.

Jackson was dealing with huge egoes, players paid somuch more than any coach etc. etc.

It is a book that is useful to almost all of us.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
With the passage of time, I think a couple of things are now clear:

Phil Jackson's coaching strength is probably his exceptional player management. In retrospect, nobody ever played better in their careers than when they played for him. Much as Kobe chafed under Jackson's leadership, all the non-Jackson Kobe seasons were disappointing Laker seasons. An unchained Kobe derailed his teams season after season under Tomjanovich and Mike D'Antoni. With Phil at the helm, they won championships.

But even
William Johnson
This is being reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity. Please visit and comment:

The year 2004 was a nasty, nasty year for the NBA. The Laker dynasty had ended in 2003 and the San Antonio Spurs were bringing in a new era of basketball to the world: defensive basketball and offensive fundamentals. The Detroit Pistons, in the Eastern Conference, took the Spurs 2003 championship to heart and did the same. Very soon the action-packed high scoring NBA was no more. Games were locked at 75-75 in OT
Jason Tondre
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I felt compelled to review this historical snapshot after the recent tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and 7 others. I recall when this was first released there were many harshly critical words directed at Bryant by his legendary coach, the Zen Master Phil Jackson. The book details a season-long journey from training camp through the end of the 2004 NBA Finals, through the perspective of Coach Jackson. Jackson details his basketball analysis of the season, as well as the psycho ...more
Kurt Vosper
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I try to read more of Phil's books all the time. As a coach, a boss, a leader I find that he has a lot of insight to offer in regard to dealing with personalities and helping people find their best selves. Is he perfect, of course not....he is a terrible general manager.

As always this book delves deeply into a season with his Laker's team....his final season. After 3 championships, he loses a Final and learns soon after that he is no longer required. During the season we learned a lot about the
Chris Heim
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I tend to enjoy insider looks at the locker rooms and clubhouses of the sports I enjoy, and that, combined with the 99 cent price tag (at a book sale), drove me to read the book. Further, the opportunity to have a coach's perspective on a season spent coaching Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal was too much to pass up. (As I'd hoped, there were also some references to Jackson's time coaching Jordan, Pippen et al with the Bulls.) Given all of those facts, I'd still only give this book three stars. ...more
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A part of me believes that Phil Jackson glossed over his reflection of the 2004 NBA Finals, failing to give the Detroit Pistons the proper credit due they deserve or to address why exactly the Lakers could not regroup after losing Karl Malone for that series. The dark cloud of the late Kobe Bryant's allegations loomed like a dark cloud through the entire book.

If you would like to know more about these Lakers in painstaking detail, allow me to recommend "Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was written about the last season Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were teammates together. Phil was also fired at the end of the season and comes off pretty candid (maybe even a little bitter) on Kobe Bryant's issues with Shaquille O'Neal. Still as a sports fan, I enjoyed the book and getting a better understanding of how to get strong personalities to work together. The book hasn't aged well as Phil returns to the Lakers after a few years and even wins a few championships with Kobe a ...more
Zachary Toma
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Last Season
By: Phil Jackson
The Last Season is a nonfiction book about the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2004 season. This book is presented from the coach, Phil Jackson’s, point of view; therefore it is told in first person. Coming from Phil Jackson’s point of view the reader can really feel and understand what he went through during the season, but the reader does not gain as much detail about the other important people in the book and what they feel. The other people in this book that have a big in
Rishi Shah
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a great read for NBA fans! Phil Jackson offers his audience a chance to relive the Lakers 03-04 season with such great talent. The Last Season does a great job describing everything he needed to juggle that year, from team chemistry/egos, Kobe's legal issues, failing relations with the organization, a romantic relationship with Dr. Buss's daughter (Jeanie), the media, his potential looming retirement, etc.. I'd definitely suggest this to anyone who enjoys professional basketball. ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book seeking insight about the 03/04 Lakers. Other than the typical things like the Kobe Shaq feud and Fisher’s buzzer beater, I was clueless about anything about the team. Phil Jackson quite nicely laid out the context, which was essential for understanding the season as a whole. Whether it was the coaching technique, the rather less known players, and relationship, it was all well described. I really recommend it to people wanting to know more about NBA history. My favorite part wa ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-non-fiction
An inside view into the last season and chaos. Amazing to see how much information the management has over the ball club. And Phil bring humble about the whole experience and even the respect it lack thereof he got from the players. Definitely learnt a lot more about the Lakers team back then than what is available from the media. As a Lakers fan, this was great eye opener.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good story based on Phil's journal entries over the course of a year and some interesting and revealing details are shared - what is much more interesting in that he would come back to coach the Lakers a year later and help them win two more championships. Now a book about that time might be even better. Book ends on a down note as did the season but it was an enjoyable and easy read. ...more
Michael Burg
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
It really is an inside view of the relational dynamics of the turbulent Los Angeles Lakers.

As a Laker fan myself, it was a bitter-sweet read for me.

For anyone interested in pro-sports or psychology/ego of true masters in their respective domains, read this book.
Vincent Siow
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Behind the scenes take on what happened during the season where the Big 4 of the Lakers was formed and widely expected to win the championship and how they fell to the team with practically little star power, the Detroit Pistons.
Cory Arnold
Some interesting insights on what went on behind the scenes that season.Pretty much taken from Phils journal and laid out in that style.Alot of the info was already pretty much common knowledge for anyone who follows the Lakers closely.
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
this book really shows how much Kobe‘s mentality and game have evolved from his first years with the Lakers and Shaquille till 2016 and his 60 point last performance. Maybe this growth inspired him to change his number and leave the weakness behind. RIP K.B.
Ted C
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s not easy to say that Phil Jackson is the greatest coach of all time. There have been so many great coaches. But the Zen Master has proven that he had the ability to both manage big egos and bring the best out of his players. For that, he’s the greatest to me.
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Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson is a retired American professional basketball coach and former player. Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

His reputation was established as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998, during which Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won five NBA

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