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Publisher's Summary

The story of the Lakers dynasty from 1996 through 2004, when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal combined - and collided - to help bring the Lakers three straight championships and restore the franchise as a powerhouse.

In the history of modern sport, there have never been two high-level teammates who loathed each other the way Shaquille O’Neal loathed Kobe Bryant and Kobe Bryant loathed Shaquille O’Neal. From public sniping and sparring, to physical altercations and the repeated threats of trade, it was warfare. And yet, despite eight years of infighting and hostility, by turns mediated and encouraged by coach Phil Jackson, the Shaq-Kobe duo resulted in one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. Together, the two led the Lakers to three straight championships and returned glory and excitement to Los Angeles.

In the tradition of Jeff Pearlman’s best sellers Showtime, Boys Will Be Boys, and The Bad Guys Won, Three-Ring Circus is a rollicking deep dive into one of sports’ most fraught yet successful pairings.

©2020 Jeff Pearlman (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Three Ring Circus

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Ok I've finished it and have more thoughts

This narrator is so awful. I thought the mispronunciations of player names was bad. But several times he referred to the Sacramento Kings as the Sanfrancisco Kings. He is clearly the worst part of an otherwise entertaining story and I hope I never have to listen to him reading so much as a goulash recipe again. He is the sole reason I'm downgrading my review to One star.

9 people found this helpful

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Great Book, but...

The story is well told, the issue is, in many cases the narrator doesn’t know how to properly pronounce the players names. Not sure why there wasn’t someone they could ask, or an editor to change it before it was released, but it’s just sloppy. Would still recommend the book, and have to friends, it’s just very distracting for example, to hear “Rick Mayhorn” instead of Rick Mahorn,

5 people found this helpful

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Great story -- AWFUL reader

The reader mangles names from Rick Mahorn to Aaron McKie and if you're listening to this book then you are most likely a diehard Laker or NBA fan and it will get under your skin.

Fast.

I can't believe no one caught this and I feel bad for Jeff Pearlman. It distracts from a very well-written book with a fantastic, entertaining story, great tidbits and fascinating inside stories. Honestly, I feel bad for the reader, too Why no one gave him a pronunciation guide is beyond me.

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting but Flawed

Jeff Pearlman is someone whom I respect for his histories on sports, and the Shaq-Kobe-Jackson dynasty to begin the century is material that seems perfect for Pearlman to cover and review. Pearlman does an excellent job in this book showing his research into the dynasty, and not just of the three central players in the dynasty. Pearlman covers the history of players such as Nick Van Exel, Rick Fox, and Derek Fisher, among others, giving the reader a good idea of who the team as a whole was. Additionally, Pearlman does an excellent job developing the basis for the story, in which the situation leading up to the dynasty was explained and explored, allowing the reader to have a full comprehensive understanding of how what came to pass came about.
That being said, there are two primary flaws within this book, the first and most obvious, which is touched on by most other reviewers is the narrator, mispronunciations are common, obvious and embarrassing, but as others have already explained this, I will go no further. The second is that Pearlman appears inherently focused on the negative in this book, not to say that everything was good, but that he focuses exclusively on juicy drama that makes for good headlines and eye catching quotes, while never truly exploring how the team functioned. Pearlman makes it appear as though it is a miracle this team even existed, and that there were never good times, only bad. In several instances this reads like a basketball equivalent of a tabloid article, relishing in the disagreements and dislike others experience because who doesn’t like to hear about drama? This is, however, to the detriment of the story as a whole, as we are prevented from seeing the individuals involved as anything more than the caricatures that Pearlman paints them as. Be it the arrogant young gun, the kind and desperate for love star, or the arrogant leader, Pearlman never drifts from his patterns of description.
In conclusion, this book is not inherently bad, if one can ignore the mispronunciations, and appreciate the work put into studying the background of the team as a whole, this can be a very entertaining book, but as an examination of the actual big three at the heart of the story, this book is more focused on digging for drama than painting a realistic picture, and if an individual is looking for a history of this era that dwells less on the most negative aspects, then time would be better spent reading the books Jackson and Shaq have produced. This book is not bad, but falls too far into drama to truly succeed. .

2 people found this helpful

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Where is the Editor

While the story is great to relive, Hutchison butchers the narration. From Vlade to Turkoglu to calling Sacramento San Francisco; while preening and sounding smug, it makes many parts painful to listen to. I did not read the reviews before and see I am not alone. By the way, I am a veracious reader/listener, and this is the first time ever, I have been compelled to write a review.
**I have to add more after another day. How could this have been released. It is like they are trying to butcher the narration. It makes on cringe. Also, it is so biased against Kobe that its comical. Not saying that Kobe was an angel, but Pearlman repeatedly concludes that he was a convicted rapist by all accounts. He was not and there was very credible evidence that the alleged victim was lying. We will never know, but Pearlman certainly thinks he knows. How could this be released?

2 people found this helpful

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Entertaining Hit Piece

This is an entertaining look at this fascinating team. Kobe, Shaquille, and Phil are legendary not just for their successes in the game, but for their larger than life personalities and egos. This book captures that vividness and had a ton of content that is salacious and all consuming.

That said, Pearlman is endlessly disrespectful to Kobe Bryant. He mocks Kobe practically every time he’s mentioned in the book. He treats the rape case like a forgone conclusion that Kobe was guilty. He connects dots with clear objectives in demonizing Kobe from beginning to end. He gets downright repetitive in positing account after account of Kobe initiating conflict only to coward away. Kobe is humiliated in every account, he fails in every account, he is awkward and altogether socially devoid in every account, he is a coward and a liar in every account, and the Lakers succeed in spite of Kobe in almost every instance.

Phil is characterized poorly as well, but Kobe is presented as someone on the brink of utter collapse at all times. He is manipulated by Vanessa at every turn. His shoes are ugly toasters. His jokes are bad. His tattoos are ridiculous. His apology for adultery is pathetic. This is the exact verbiage used in this book. The bias isn’t even concealed. His participation in the offense is counteracting the Lakers success, and he is hated by everyone everywhere including Phil, who came back to coach him again after a year off. Meanwhile Shaquille is a protector. He is entirely benevolent and free of any guilt. His shortcomings are largely equated with Baloo the big lazy well meaning bear; and the only times Kobe is mentioned well is when he capitulates to Shaquille.

Kobe’s work ethic is barely mentioned. His successes on the court are always selfish and inefficient. His fans are clueless and transfixed sheep since Pearlman sees him as an obvious rapist.

Phil’s book is better. The writing here is so so. It is salacious and a fun read. But ultimately it’s just another media character cashing in on the resentments that followed Kobe Bryant since the day he joined the league.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved the story but...

Minor complaint as an NBA fan. The narrator should've taken the time to learn how to pronounce the player's names. For example, I found myself correcting him out loud when I heard him trying to pronounce Ginobili and Turkolu's names. Other than that, I loved the book! Sadly, it confirmed my opinion of Kobe.

1 person found this helpful

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At least try to hide your hate for Kobe...

I was very excited to listen to this book after hearing an interview with the author. He offers great details into the Lakers dynasty you won’t find anywhere else. I do have one issue(actually 2, narrator did an awful job mispronouncing the names), Pearlman blatantly shows his hate for Kobe throughout this book. I understand he was a difficult person and had an arrogance to him that was off putting to his teammates. But anyone who is at the top of their game is usually isolating and can be a jerk...watch the last dance... the constant praise for shaq and blatant hate for Kobe was very hard to listen to at times but all in al this was a well written book that I had to finish after starting. Pearlman is a great writer but I wish he would have kept his personal grudge against Kobe out of it.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book, bad reader

Pearlman is a one of the great sportswriters of his generation and this book is excellent. Hutchison, however, nearly ruined the book for me due to his inability to properly pronounce names. Would’ve been a great idea for someone in the process to run him through the basics of pronounciation for real life people whose names he butchered over and over again.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book, bad liaten

The narrator really could've used a pronunciation guide for the player's names. Good story though.

1 person found this helpful