Ask the Author: Jeff Pearlman
What would you like readers to know about you?
My dream in life was to become a sports writer. From the time I was a student at Mahopac (N.Y.) Junior High. I’d run to the town library and absorb sports books, old Sports Illustrated magazines. Anything. Everything. So, nine books in, I’m a writer who has lived out his dream.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
My book chronicles the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2004—aka the Shaq/Kobe years, during which they won three-straight championships while loving/hating/loathing one another.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
When I was a young boy my mother said to me, “I believe Jesus put you on this earth to write a book about the Los Angeles Lakers.” Ever since then, I’ve pursued this dream (OK, that’s not true. I always found those Lakers fascinating. Particularly the dynamic of two mega-stars and a mega-star head coach, Phil Jackson.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
The Lakers had a player in 2000 named J.R. Rider. He was erratic and a bit crazy. I didn’t have his phone number—just an address. So when I was in Arizona I stopped at his house and knocked on the door. He was not pleased to see me. Made it very clear he was not pleased to see me. REALLY did not want to see me.
Then we spoke for two hours.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
In 1986 an author named Stanley Herz self-published a lightly read book titled, “Conquering the Corporate Career.” It could only be found in a single Westchester (N.Y.) County store—Waldenbooks. And whenever Waldenbooks would move “Conquering the Corporate Career” to a back shelf, Stanley Herz or his sons would sneak in and place it in the BEST SELLER section. I always found that level of passion and commitment outstanding and honorable, and it’s influenced my entire life.
I should mention—Stanley Herz is my dad.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Make the extra call. Always. Make calls and more calls and more calls. If you don’t do your research, it’ll show. Books expose mediocre reporting. Do bust your butt. Don’t take shortcuts.