A closer look into Michael Jordan’s contrasting impacts on the 1991 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls through “The Jordan Rules.”
“The Jordan Rules” was the first book I completed during quarantine, and it helped me pass the time more effectively than I imagined it would. Standing at 365 short pages, Sam Smith’s New York Times Bestseller is a page-turner that will leave you on the edge of your reading surface wondering what’s going to come next.
It’s as much of a drama as you could imagine an NBA season being. From playing time disagreements to shots-attempted issues to contract conflicts to the few moments of cohesion and harmony amongst one of the most talented teams of the ‘90s, Smith weaves together game recaps and off-the-court developments to create a book full of unresolved tension.
While MJ is the center of it all, Smith does well to give each character their chance to be understood, painting a clear picture of players, coaches, front office members, and family members alike.
And it helps that Smith picked a topic full of soap-opera-ready narratives. From the top of the roster to the bottom, each player is addressed with his own contract insecurities playing time desires, frustrations with the coaching staff and their complicated strategy, including the infamous “triangle,” Phil Jackson’s complicated offensive scheme. Smith pulls the reader in and shows the inner workings of the Bulls’ locker room and practice sessions with such clarity that it’s hard not to feel bad for B.J. Armstrong or Horace Grant every time Smith retells locker room banter-sessions that cross the line any number of ways.
Perhaps most impressive about the book’s composition is Smith’s heavy use of quotations — having such a close idea of what went down helps bring the story together through the many yelling matches in the Bulls locker room, at-home fights between characters, and strategic meetings between Head Coach Jackson, General Manager Jerry Krause, and CEO Phil Reinsdorf.
Similarly entrancing is Smith’s game recaps. He may have been borrowing from his own accounts of the games, as he wrote for the Chicago Tribune covering the Bulls for many years, but in any case, it’s almost like he puts everything else on pause when describing some of the Bulls’ most intense games. Most notable are key late-season, playoff-preview matchups against the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, both of which are nail-biters down the wire. Smith will make you feel like you’re sitting courtside right with him, and with so much personal context, each excruciating miss or elating game-winner feels all the more consequential.
If you’re looking for a page-turner to keep you entertained during quarantine, look no further than “The Jordan Rules,” a book that will tie you right up in the Bulls’ dysfunctionality and bring you along for the ride.