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Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty

Title: Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty

Author: Jeff Pearlman

Genre: non-fiction, sports, basketball

PopSugar Challenge Prompt: A book about a subject you’re passionate about

I have been a Lakers fan my entire life. Magic Johnson is my all-time favorite player. The day he retired, I cried. Although the Lakers are mostly great, I remember the rough years, too. My blood still runs purple and gold, no matter what. I loved reading When the Game Was Ours, co-written by Magic and Larry Bird and the Dream Team about the 1992 Olympics. But reading about the time *after* those glory days was new territory for me.

From Goodreads: In the history of modern sport, there have never been two high-level teammates who loathed each other the way Shaquille O’Neal loathed Kobe Bryant, and Kobe Bryant loathed Shaquille O’Neal. From public sniping and sparring, to physical altercations and the repeated threats of trade, it was warfare. And yet, despite eight years of infighting and hostility, by turns mediated and encouraged by coach Phil Jackson, the Shaq-Kobe duo resulted in one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Together, the two led the Lakers to three straight championships and returned glory and excitement to Los Angeles. 

When Kobe died, I cried. I can’t even explain why. I was never a huge Kobe fan. But the loss hit me hard. He was my age, and I just can’t imagine dying the way he did. And the man he became was not the man he always was. He’s awful in this book. Just one of the worst people you could meet. Rude, selfish, standoffish, you name it. His talent was undeniable, but he also never shared the ball to elevate his teammates. As lovable as Shaq was, Kobe was just a ball of frustration to his peers, the media, coaches, basically anyone he came across.

As much as I enjoyed my trip down memory lane, it was hard to read Kobe in that light. I just had no idea how awful he was. It would have been interesting to hear from him after the book came out to see what he said about how he changed as a person, assuming he did. Maybe he just put on a better show for people in the public. In any case, the book was great. The author did a great job adding in humor to a potentially dry subject. Any fan of the NBA should definitely read this one.

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