A thrilling, kinetic bio-epic about Michael "Air" Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time and most influential athlete in history, from the creator of the acclaimed and best-selling 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. This tour de force explores Jordan's public successes and private struggles, with the depth of Santiago's passion for his subject shining through on every full-color page.
Jordan became a national celebrity at the age of 19, scoring the winning jump shot in the final seconds of the 1982 NCAA Championship, earning him the moniker "Air." He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, a team with a decade-long history of dreadful performances. By 1991, Jordan disproved
doubters when he finally led the Bulls to their first NBA championship over Magic Johnson and the L.A. Lakers.
In 1992, Michael Jordan joined the Dream Team, an assembly of 12 legendary NBA players who steamrolled everyone at the Barcelona Olympics and brought the gold back home. Despite taking a season off to try his hand at professional baseball, Jordan still led the Bulls to three consecutive NBA Championships twice.
Despite his success, his life in the limelight and his private life were not without controversies or calamities, and no amount of success or money could shield him from it. But everyone wanted to be like Mike, and Santiago comes closer
than anyone to putting you on the parquet floor of the Chicago's United Center in your very own pair of Air Jordans.
"…Wilfred Santiago captures the physical grace of baseball and creates a story of visceral and emotional force... Santiago… has produced a rich and surprising work. The compositions and framing are intricate and varied… Santiago captures Clemente's relentless vitality as a player, frames the story around the historical and religious traditions of Puerto Rico, and handles Clemente's tragic death with restraint, all with a gimlet eye and the sensitivity of a true artist. It is a classic story given new life in this fresh, innovative telling."
– Alex Belth, Sports Illustrated
"...21's eloquence is visual, and it is a very real eloquence. The character of Roberto Clemente is nearly hugged to death in this particular portrayal: he’s virtuous and charming and earnest and respectful to elders... But the world around him is alive, and Santiago's expressive (and occasionally, bracingly expressionistic) approach to portraying Clemente’s wild athletic genius ensures that it remains thrillingly present... [A] fitting and vital tribute.” – David Roth, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Wilfred Santiago's 21 is brilliant and beautiful, challenging and lyrical ... which seems exactly right, as Roberto Clemente was all those things and more." – Rob Neyer, ESPN.com
"Nearly every page brings a new
compositional marvel, setting energetic, limber figures against stylized photographic backgrounds washed
in sepia tones and Pirate-yellow highlights. The in-game sequences, though, are show-stoppers, taking
advantage of dizzying perspective shifts to capture the fluid, whirling nature of the game as it moves in fits
and starts through huge moments of pause into cracking shots of sizzling drama. It’s not a comprehensive
biography by any means, nor does it try to be one. But for a book that matches the pure athleticism,
unshakable compassion, and towering legacy of its subject, look no further."
— Ian Chipman, Booklist (Starred Review)
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