When Nothing Else Matters

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When Nothing Else Matters
When Nothing Else Matters.jpg
When Nothing Else Matters
Hardback Cover
Author Michael Leahy
Cover artist Jackie Seow (design)
Catherine Wessel/Corbis Outline (photo)
Country United States
Language English
Genre Sports, Nonfiction
Published November 9, 2004 Simon & Schuster
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 448
ISBN 0-7432-7648-5

When Nothing Else Matters is a 2004 non-fiction book by Michael Leahy. The book chronicles basketball superstar Michael Jordan's last comeback to the NBA playing for the Washington Wizards. Riding motorcycles and gambling prior to his return, Jordan attempted to fill the void that retirement inflicted. But his need for the rush of competition left him wanting more. Leahy documents his final two seasons in the NBA, and reveals a more human side of Jordan.


  • Steven J. Lyons, Chicago Sun-Times: "The Nexus at which the decline in Jordan's physical prowess and public image converge is deftly and devastatingly captured in Michael Leahy's When Nothing Else Matters. The staff writer for The Washington Post goes beyond the easy recounting of the familiar into a depth that is thought-provoking and engaging."
  • Allen St. John, The Washington Post: "At its best, When Nothing Else Matters is the fourth act of a Shakespeare play....Jordan is Macbeth in high tops....When Nothing Else Matters tells the gripping tale of an aging superstar moving reluctantly from the one place where he was in complete control to a world where the rules weren't as clear cut."
  • Dan McGrath, Chicago Tribune: "Riveting, myth-shattering."
  • Jon Ward, The Washington Times: "Michael Leahy has written a heck of a book....Mr. Leahy combines an unrelenting eye for detail with extraordinary big-picture analysis."
  • Ron Rapoport, Chicago Sun-Times: "When Nothing Else Matters gives us the best look we are likely to have of Jordan in decline....The result is a richly detailed, anecdote-driven account of one of the most famous men in the world approaching the end of his rope."
  • Scott Tobias, The Onion A.V. Club: "Incisive...Michael Leahy reveals a great deal about Michael Jordan's inglorious stint with the Washington Wizards, but he reveals even more about the back-scratching culture of sports journalism, which allows flawed figures like Jordan to balloon into false idols."
  • Tom Scocca, New York Observer: "When Nothing Else Matters is a close-up portrait of an aging star's vanity, a cold-blooded case study in organizational politics...a scathing media criticism."
  • John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "A gripping behind-the-scenes book....An important corrective to our current celebrity culture."
  • Dave Hannigan, The Sunday Times (London): "[An] exceptional book. It says much about the cozy relationship enjoyed by elite athletes and the journalists who routinely cover them that it took a nonsports writer to produce the most telling insight into this twentieth-century icon."
  • Michael Sokolove, author of The Ticket Out: "Leahy is that most unwelcome of characters around a pro sports team: a truth-teller. Where others were intimidated by Michael Jordan, or just plain blinded by his star power, Leahy stood his ground and assembled a tough-minded, fair and gripping account that reveals something far more interesting than Michael Jordan the icon--he gives us Jordan, the man."
  • Glenn Stout, series editor of The Best American Sports Writing series: "Michael Leahy may be the first author to overcome his awe of Michael Jordan and let us see another Jordan, the legend in the autumn of his career. In this book we don't just meet the myth streaking across the sky--we meet a very human being finally returning to earth. When Nothing Else Matters transcends its subject, for as we watch Jordan descend, we also somehow see ourselves."


In his review of When Nothing Else Matters, English journalist Simon Barnes of The Times wrote "A better book, a perceptive writer, might have noticed that there was something heroic in all this: but Leahy is too deeply committed to his premise that everything Jordan does is, by definition, shameful."


  • Leahy, Michael. (2004a) When Nothing Else Matters, New York. Simon & Schuster
  • Barnes, Simon. "When Nothing Else Matters by Michael Leahy", The Times, January 15, 2005.