Ain't No Tomorrow : Kobe, Shaq, and the Making of a Lakers Dynasty

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9780071387361: Ain't No Tomorrow : Kobe, Shaq, and the Making of a Lakers Dynasty

An all-access look at the Lakers' championship season

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"Elizabeth Kaye is a wonderful writer--as a reporter she's like a bulldog--she grabs onto you and doesn't let go until she figures out everything about you. Throughout Ain't No Tomorrow, she discovers and explains the game of basketball in a way that no one ever has. She takes the reader through the mental preparation, coaching strategies, and personal struggles of players--who are part Rocky and part Rambo. If you like to read, you'll love Ain't No Tomorrow."
--Sylvester Stallone

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At the start of the 2000 NBA playoffs, the famously underachieving Los Angeles Lakers found themselves the focus of national attention. The team that had limped along since the golden era of Magic Johnson was now endowed with basketball's two most gifted and dominant players, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, and was led by none other than Phil Jackson, the most fabled coach in the NBA. By the time the Lakers beat Indiana in game six of the championship series, they showed themselves unstoppable, a team above and apart and blessed with a glamour and facility that made them the obvious franchise to lead pro basketball into the new millennium.

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Then everything began to fall apart. Jackson had warned his team that the truly challenging season is the one after an initial big win, and his words were quickly becoming reality as the great team slipped into profound disarray at the start of the new season. Ain't No Tomorrow is an intimate look at the astonishing eight-month roller-coaster ride that became the Lakers' 2000-2001 season: a time of tumult and drama when impulses toward brotherhood and unity dissolved into petty, ugly battles and bruised egos; when men who previously rose to a great challenge grew greedy and slack.

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Combining brilliant reporting and original perspective, Elizabeth Kaye--a journalist granted special access to Jackson, Shaq, Kobe, and other major players--takes you into the minds and hearts of the team members. She chronicles the unique story of a team that ultimately righted itself, united, and found its way to a second championship title--but only after an extraordinary season in which exciting sports drama becomes human drama at its most compelling and complex.

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From the Back Cover:

The Los Angeles Lakers are among basketball's most fabled teams. With stellar players like Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal, they have reigned for decades as the NBA's most envied team. They were reluctantly admired by every other team in the league and tough to beat, but after Magic Johnson left the game in the early 1990s, they endured seasons of disappointment, and the championship rings they coveted were placed in the hands of other teams and other players, principally the Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

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A dramatic change took place when a new coach came to the Lakers at the start of the 1999-2000 season. He was none other than Phil Jackson, the man who had coached the Bulls to their six championships in the 1990s. Jackson was a storied figure, with more mystique than any coach in NBA history. Under his enlightened guidance, the Lakers finally made it all the way to the finals, where they beat the Indiana Pacers and seized the NBA championship that had eluded them for years. But after their amazing victory, Jackson warned his team that repeating their victory in the coming season would be much harder than getting that initial win. His players didn't believe him. As they saw it, they knew how to win and had the trophy to prove it--they were convinced that winning the next year's championship would only be easier.

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But the path to the second champsionship turned out to be unexpectedly rocky. The easy run to the top that the Lakers anticipated became instead a season of harsh reckoning that would teach them the critical difference between winning a championship and being a championship team. Tempers flared and tensions erupted between their premier players: Shaquille O'Neal, the league's most dominant player, and Kobe Bryant, widely regarded as the "Air Apparent" to Michael Jordan. The troubles between Kobe and Shaq took an inevitable toll on all of their teammates, who became incapable of summoning the ferocious, defensive game it takes to win and lapsed into what Jackson described as "depressed basketball." Clearly what the Lakers lacked was that special sense of unity that characterizes a winning team.

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As the season progressed, Jackson spent long nights wondering if he was the right man to lead them. Shaq struggled with his free throws while Kobe faced debilitating injuries and the conflict between the kind of game he wanted to play and the game that his team needed from him. Yet just when it seemed that all was lost, the Lakers pulled themselves back from the brink and went on to put together the most winning postseason in NBA history.

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Ain't No Tomorrow takes you deep inside this incredible season. It is the day-by-day, intimate story of how a group of brilliant competitors set aside their individual goals and concerns, forged themselves into a community, and earned the back-to-back championships that signify genuine greatness and pave the way to a dynasty.

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"The Lakers were a team of complicated personalities and the coach a mystic who asked them what they thought was the best form of government. They said democracy, Phil Jackson said it was a benign dictatorship, and that's it. Then, in the center of tension, came his crucial instructions: 'Keep it simple. When you throw to Shaq, you throw high, for example.' Elizabeth Kaye brings you both these aspects in a wonderfully written, remarkable story that happens to be about basketball."
--Jimmy Breslin

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"This is an inside look at the near-implosion of a championship team, the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers, titans who clashed, grew, gave, and learned to work as one. It's also a look at the essence of their fabled coach, Phil Jackson, who had the courage to let grown men find their own way. In the end, it is a story of triumph. Like the Lakers, this book is a winner."
--Paul Sunderland, Lakers/NBA broadcaster for Fox Sports/NBC

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Your attitude permeated your play, and then it was visible and not just some private thing you were thinking. A championship attitude had an aura of its own, and Phil Jackson knew exactly what it looked like. It looked the way Michael and Scottie had looked when they practiced with a fervor so intense that if you didn't know better you'd think they were two young guys trying out for the team.

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The 2000 World Championship Los Angeles Lakers did not have that look. They looked complacent. And Jackson's continuing cautions that repeating is harder than winning did not seem to faze them. Nor did they pay attention in training camp to the admonitions of the four assistant coaches who told them, "You guys have no idea how difficult this is going to be."

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"We know we're ready to repeat," the players answered.

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Well, thought the coaches, we know damn well you're not.
--from Ain't No Tomorrow

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Kaye has been a contributing editor for Esquire, Rolling Stone, George, and Los Angeles Magazine.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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