bookmark_border7 Seconds or Less

Jack McCallum, who writes for Sports Illustrated, covered the Phoenix Suns for the entire 2005-06 NBA season for this book. The veteran reporter first accompanied the team in the preseason to write an article for his employer. This led to the idea of covering the Suns for the entire season and writing about the experience in a book. The title “:07 Seconds or Less” refers to the offensive tactics Mike D’Antoni installed with his point guard Steve Nash. D’Antoni believed that the chances of scoring were highest within the first 7 seconds of the shot clock, before the opposing defense had a chance to properly take their positions.

NBA Books - 7 Seconds or Less

McCallum especially spent a lot of time with the coaches, which provides interesting insight into the inner workings of an NBA coaching staff. He was present at important meetings and therefore almost like a part of the coaching staff. Above all, the different responsibilities and characters are described. Marc Iavaroni, who won a title as a player with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983, was responsible for the defensive strategies of the offensive-minded team. Alvin Gentry brought long-term experience as a head coach in the NBA (and would also take over the Suns as head coach himself in 2009). Phil Weber was known not only for his boundless optimism and philosophical streak, but also for his girlfriends who made even Suns players green with envy. Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s older brother, previously coached in high school for decades and brought a view from outside the NBA.

The book focuses for the most part on the playoffs of that season. Each game in each series usually has its own chapter devoted to it. In the first round, they faced the Lakers with their lone star, Kobe Bryant. Although the Suns went into this series as favorites, they were already on the verge of an early playoff exit at 1-3. However, Raja Bell, who engaged in a feud with Kobe and defended him superbly, and his teammates turned the series around with three straight wins.

The regular season is covered in small intermediate chapters. For example, the focus here is on Amar’e Stoudemire, who had knee surgery just before the season began and only made three games before sitting out for good. His rehab and work ethic caused some frustration among teammates and coaches. It also details the past of some players, particularly leader and two-time MVP Steve Nash. Shawn Marion felt chronically underappreciated and let that come through repeatedly throughout the book. A secret star of the book is Eddie House, who is always good for laughs with his sometimes crude lines.

Afterwards they were able to defeat the other team from LA, the Clippers, in the second round, also in seven games. But exhaustion was a problem more and more. You can learn more about Nash’s physical problems in this book. The Conference Finals were against the Dallas Mavericks, Nash’s former team led by his buddy Dirk Nowitzki. After the first games of the series were close, the Suns’ physical and mental exhaustion became more and more noticeable. The Mavs advanced to the Finals, where they were to play a series that still leaves Mavs fans feeling uneasy 15 years later.

The book is especially interesting because it is very frank about the inner workings of an NBA team. McCallum also does not hide criticism and Shawn Marion is said to have been not too responsive to the author after this book. As an NBA fan, you usually only see the games and, if necessary, interviews in which players and coaches are mainly concerned with not saying anything controversial. You rarely get that kind of insight, and I kept noticing how I sympathized with this Suns team and coaching staff after the fact. Unfortunately, with D’Antoni, Gentry, Nash, Stoudemire and Marion, it was never going to be enough to win a title, but these teams shaped the NBA with their style of play like no other team at that time.

Buy 7 Seconds or Less at Amazon