March 6, 2014

Book Club: Showtime

One thing about Jeff Pearlman books, they always go after juicy topics. Whether it's on the early 90's Cowboys or the 86 Mets, Pearlman has never shied away from teams that like to do drugs or have sex with women or multiple women. All that being said I found his latest book 'Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 80's' lacking.

Oh sure there are stories about Magic's orgies and Spencer Haywood's drug problems. The problem I had with this book if that I've heard all of these stories before. If you read Bill Simmons' basketball book you already knew about Spencer Haywood being kicked off the Lakers and then him almost hiring two hitmen to assassinate head coach Paul Westhead. You also knew about James Worthy being arrested for soliciting two prostitutes who happened to be undercover cops.

I've learned in life not to go into things with high expectations because most of the time you get crushed by disappointment. The end result didn't match this high standard you had set in you mind. I sadly didn't remember this rule going into this book. At the the end of the day 'Showtime' isn't a bad book but you will be disappointed in it if you've heard these stories before.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the entire book. I did enjoy reading about Jerry Tarkanian almost became the Lakers coach in 1979. How Jack McKinney was the real father of "Showtime". How Paul Westhead ruined his career by installing an offense where everyone just stood around. How Pat Riley exited the Lakers because his ego was too much.

The stories of sex and women were probably the biggest disappointment. No stories about Jerry Buss making an airplane shake like Jerry Jones. No white house. No stories about maids cleaning up disgusting houses after drug orgies. Quite frankly the Lakers were boring compared to the early 90's Cowboys.

And the players that were eccentric like Kurt Rambis, Pearlman didn't go into a lot of detail giving us examples of his eccentricities like he did with a lot of those 86 Mets players. The problem here though, not Pearlman's fault, was that he was covering an entire decade instead of one season. He had to cover a lot of ground with those Lakers teams while the Mets were just a one-year wonder. You can get into more detail with one year teams.

My own expectations caused me to be lukewarm on this book. I shouldn't have expected it be as juicy as Perlman's Cowboys book. Now excuse me while I temper my expectations for Jonah Keri's upcoming book.


  1. Dovetail: Ever since Al died, I have been waiting for someone who worked in the organization over the past 20 years or so to publish a tell-all book about what sorts of shenanigans and goings on occurred within the Raider organization up until the day Al passed on. Amy Trask or Bruce Allen seem like the two most likely suitors for a project like this, and maybe they would have a current Raiders beat writer, like Vic Tafur or Mr. Amy G co-author it.

    Even for all the haters out there, it would be very revealing, I would think.

    1. I can't see Amy Trask writing a tell-all. She's too loyal to Al. I'd definitely buy a inside look at the Raiders starting from their last Super Bowl win until the day Al died.

    2. I don't disagree, as I think anything Trask would come up with would have that "bias towards Al" caveat to it. And that could be a problem with writing something like that, as it's difficult to take a truly neutral position towards Al, as that even divided Raider fans themselves for a good 25 years or so.

      From my perspective, there would be a lot of similarities between the Raiders post-SB XVIII and the piece Bill Simmons wrote a few years ago about the Warriors post-'75 NBA Title. That was painful enough for me to read.