The New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all-encompassing account of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports’ most-revered—and dominant—dynasties.
The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity—and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.
Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles. From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end—marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV—Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.
Pearlman (Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton) returns to his niche: Chronicling the exploits of pro sports' bad boy the 1986 New York Mets, the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s and now the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, who won five NBA championships between 1980 and 1988 with an All-Star roster that personified the decade's egotism and excess. Beginning with the drafting of 19-year-old Earvin "Magic" Johnson as the NBA's first overall pick in 1979 (punctuated by an awkward first lunch Johnson shared with the Lakers' playboy owner Jerry Buss), Pearlman spins a wild and wildly entertaining tale that leaves dirt on practically every man central to the Lakers dynasty, and even some who weren't. Enigmatic and aloof Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood seven-foot-two but possessed a short emotional fuse; Spencer Haywood was dismissed from the team for excessive cocaine use but wasn't the only Laker snorting; and Johnson dictated personnel moves and hosted extravagant, "orgasmic" sex parties. The nickname "Showtime" described the Lakers' relentless and unparalleled freewheeling run-and-gun offense, as well as the entire era itself; the book it inspired is just as enticing full of fast breaks, dramatic intensity, and celebrity sightings. Color photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Jeff Pearlman has a unique ability that many writers both before and after him have tried to capture yet fail master. The ability to place the reader in the moment! I can’t find the words to say how much I enjoyed reading about the greatest Lakers era & can’t wait to get started on “Sweetness” & “Gunslinger”. Well done!
Reading this book brought back many memories. Showtimes was a truly exceptional time in the history of basketball.
Must read ...
for any Laker or NBA fan. Insightful, honest, funny. I grew up with the Lakers, beginning with the nightmarish '69 finals, the spectacular '72 triumph and through all the glorious Showtime years continuing to the present Kobe years. This was a tremendously entertaining stroll through arguably the greatest time in NBA history. It is also a poignant reminder of the excesses and brevity of the professional athlete's career as you read about the many that came and went or flamed out. Most importantly, as a Lakers fan, it was an opportunity to once again be thankful for something so few sports fans have ... a dynasty like no other!