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":07 Seconds or Less""

The danger in reading a book by somebody who has spent a season with a team is that one will learn more than one wishes to learn.

We delight in the performances of great athletes in part because they can do things we can't do. As a friend of mine once put it, "They bear our dreams." Do we really want to learn that some of them are selfish, small-minded and insecure? Wouldn't we be happier just watching them play?

Jack McCallum's ":07 Seconds Or Less" is not a tell-all book, but it tells a lot. Some readers may be surprised to learn that the Phoenix Suns, with whom McCallum spent much of the '05-'06 season, regard Kobe Bryant of the Lakers as an insufferable primadonna, and that even some of the world's wealthiest and most accomplished athletes "turn into little kids in the presence of movie stars." I, for one, was discouraged to learn that once Phoenix had been eliminated from the playoffs, most of the Suns paid no attention to the teams playing for the championship. They were just too tired of basketball to care.

On the other hand, McCallum's book offers considerable insight into why the Suns have been able to sustain the fast break-style of play about which most other teams can only dream. Part of the reason is Phoenix Head Coach Mike D'Antoni, who, unlike most of his peers, seems to enjoy turning his players loose rather than regarding each of them as a flawed implementer of his potentially-brilliant master plan.

Every sports team is fragile and temporary. The charm of a book like ":07 Seconds Or Less" is that it freezes in time a particular collection of players, some of whom had already departed Phoenix by the time McCallum wrote his epilogue. In the Suns the author found a group that was more successful and much more accessible than most teams are, and the result is a better book than most accounts of a single season with a single team have been.

This program aired on January 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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