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Last Dance
Cover of Last Dance
Last Dance
Behind the Scenes at the Final Four

"The Final Four is the Holy Grail. We all talk about how we shouldn't judge our careers on making the Final Four or on winning it, but every single one of us wants to be there." -Coach Gary Williams, University of Maryland (1989-present)

When college basketball teams make it to the NCAA tournament, they say they're "going to the dance." John Feinstein's riveting new book is the story of the last dance - the Final Four. There is no event in sports quite like it. The Final Four draws millions to their televisions and thousands to a chosen city - attendance is topped only by the Super Bowl. It is the epicenter of sports madness, a circus of media, coaches, and fans swirling around the four teams talented enough to have made it to the end.

Tracking the four teams in 2005's Final Four-Michigan State's Spartans, the University of Louisville's Cardinals, the University of Illinois's Fighting Illini, and the University of North Carolina's Tar Heels - John Feinstein tells the story of a definitive and dramatic tournament. Here are the stories of UCLA's John Wooden, UNC's Dean Smith, and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, telling of Final Four dynasties that defined the sport. Here are great players like Bill Bradley, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, and Sean May, who thought they'd never make it to college basketball's final weekend. Here are the late nights at the coaches' hotel, where careers are advanced (or not). Here are the players in the 2005 Final Four trying to practice, eat, rest, and play, knowing that they will be remembered by these games for the rest of their lives.

Feinstein also conveys the inspiring stories of the people behind the scenes who make the madness possible: the officials and referees who walk a tightrope in an effort to keep the tournament fair, the scouts and ticket scalpers along the edges, and the photographers and reporters whose passion for the tournament goes far beyond that of any average fan. With the unflinching eye of a knowledgeable reporter-2005 was Feinstein's twenty-sixth Final Four-and the unsurpassed skill of a great storyteller, Feinstein exposes the unforgettable drama of one of the most revered events in American sports.

"The Final Four is the Holy Grail. We all talk about how we shouldn't judge our careers on making the Final Four or on winning it, but every single one of us wants to be there." -Coach Gary Williams, University of Maryland (1989-present)

When college basketball teams make it to the NCAA tournament, they say they're "going to the dance." John Feinstein's riveting new book is the story of the last dance - the Final Four. There is no event in sports quite like it. The Final Four draws millions to their televisions and thousands to a chosen city - attendance is topped only by the Super Bowl. It is the epicenter of sports madness, a circus of media, coaches, and fans swirling around the four teams talented enough to have made it to the end.

Tracking the four teams in 2005's Final Four-Michigan State's Spartans, the University of Louisville's Cardinals, the University of Illinois's Fighting Illini, and the University of North Carolina's Tar Heels - John Feinstein tells the story of a definitive and dramatic tournament. Here are the stories of UCLA's John Wooden, UNC's Dean Smith, and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, telling of Final Four dynasties that defined the sport. Here are great players like Bill Bradley, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, and Sean May, who thought they'd never make it to college basketball's final weekend. Here are the late nights at the coaches' hotel, where careers are advanced (or not). Here are the players in the 2005 Final Four trying to practice, eat, rest, and play, knowing that they will be remembered by these games for the rest of their lives.

Feinstein also conveys the inspiring stories of the people behind the scenes who make the madness possible: the officials and referees who walk a tightrope in an effort to keep the tournament fair, the scouts and ticket scalpers along the edges, and the photographers and reporters whose passion for the tournament goes far beyond that of any average fan. With the unflinching eye of a knowledgeable reporter-2005 was Feinstein's twenty-sixth Final Four-and the unsurpassed skill of a great storyteller, Feinstein exposes the unforgettable drama of one of the most revered events in American sports.

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About the Author-
  • John Feinstein graduated from Duke University in 1977. He worked at the Washington Post for eleven years as both a political and sports reporter. He has also worked at Sports Illustrated and at the National Sports Daily. He is the author of a number of bestselling sports books, including A Season on the Brink, A Good Walk Spoiled, A Civil War, The Last Amateurs, and The Punch. Feinstein is currently a commentator for National Public Radio and Sporting News Radio and an essayist for CBS Sports; he writes columns for AOL and Golf Magazine, and contributes to the Washington Post. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and Shelter Island, New York, with his wife, son, and daughter.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine College basketball's Final Four is part party, part circus, part game, and a whole lot of mystique. John Feinstein, who has covered basketball for decades, uses the 2005 Final Four to explore the history, culture, and madness that are the event. His style is easy to follow. Arnie Mazer does not embellish that style. He adds emphasis with cadence, using dramatic pauses in place of exclamation points. He doesn't try to emulate well-known voices, like that of commentator Dick Vitale. Instead of caricature, he uses speed of delivery--with some restraint compared to the original. The editing of the abridgment is crisp, with only a few instances where a listener can spot breaks. R.C.G. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 9, 2006
    Feinstein is turning out the sports books faster than ever, as his whirlwind tour of the NCAA college basketball tournament follows quickly on the heels of his fall 2005 look at pro football, Next Man Up
    . Maybe that explains the somewhat rushed feel, as Feinstein skips briskly from one anecdote to the next. In his effort to depict the annual climax of "March Madness" from as many perspectives as possible, Feinstein collects stories from coaches, players, referees, sportscasters and others, more often than not finding the positive angle. Even Terry Howard's missed free throw during a 1975 semifinal game is turned into a reflection on what an honor it is just to be able to play in the Final Four. The closest Feinstein comes to controversy is when he criticizes the NCAA's recent decision to add a 65th team to the tournament. The account of last year's battle between Illinois and North Carolina for the championship is largely perfunctory; Feinstein is clearly much more interested in revisiting the past with coaching legends like Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski (who also supplies a brief foreword). Then again, in all likelihood, so are most readers. 8 pages of photos.

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Behind the Scenes at the Final Four
John Feinstein
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