American sportswriter and author Roland Lazenby ranks among the rare people who can come up and close with NBA legends, such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Lazenby wrote books such as “The Lakers: A Basketball Journey (1993),” “Bull Run! The Story of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (1996),” “Blood on the Horns: The Long Strange Ride of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls (1998),” and “Mad Game, The NBA Education of Kobe Bryant (2000).”
The renowned author made a rare appearance on Sports for All Philippines Sports Bytes PH podcast earlier this month, discussing the journey he went through with Jordan and Bryant. But Lazenby also mentioned how he highly regarded Philippine basketball, particularly Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
It turns out that Lazenby got a lot of help from Cone who helped enrich his basketball knowledge.
“Coach Tim Cone recently came to the US. He has been such a big part of my basketball education. And for years, the great Tex Winter who coached Michael [Jordan] longer than anyone, afforded me the opportunity to learn which was really important for any journalist or anyone trying to write a game,” Lazenby said.
It appeared that Cone had already been guiding Lazenby even before the death of Tex Winter who passed away on October 10, 2018. And for the American sportswriter, that is no small thing.
“I want to express just how important Philippine basketball culture has been to me. It’s not that I am able to observe the league there up close but my ability to visit with him, his generosity has been a tremendous thing,” Lazenby said.
Lazenby answered a lot of questions ranging from the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant feud, the fall of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round in the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs, and “The Last Dance.” But of all the topics discussed in the nearly two-hour podcast, Lazenby acknowledged that an eternal lesson he got from Jordan was that “timing is everything.”
He pointed out how well-timed Jordan’s return was to NBA action and the curious release of “The Last Dance.” Lazenby shared how the shooting of that was done during the 1997-98 season, about the same time that he was working on his book, “Blood on the Horns: The Long Strange Ride of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.”
“Andy Thompson, Klay Thompson’s uncle, was the field director shooting all of this beautiful footage. He’s behind the scenes He is getting the whole Jordan story with an NBA TV film crew, NBA Productions. And that footage sits there almost 20 years. Jordan won’t agree to have it released,” Lazenby said.
He added that it was only in 2019 when a deal was made. Jordan made a fortune from “The Last Dance,” but Lazenby felt it no longer mattered because he was a billionaire. But the thing here is that he finally agreed and the timing of it all got him thinking.
“Basketball is all shut down, all we have is The Last Dance.’ Think about that. Think about Jordan’s perfect timing. He had no idea of the pandemic when he finally agreed for that to go forward,” Lazenby said.
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