Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsHonest, detailed, inside examination of what made John Wooden & UCLA so successful and memorable.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 14, 2021
A great book, addicting read, page after page! Impeccably detailed and intricately sourced, it is an honest portrayal of the amazing, interesting life of one of America's greatest college coaches & of the 10-championship dynasty UCLA had from 1963-1975 -- thanks to John Wooden's fundamental basketball skill teachings, the superb coaching strategy & recruiting talents of assistant Jerry Norman, the powerful influence of alumni like Willie Naulls, Rafer Johnson, Arthur Ashe and the soothing support & family atmosphere of booster Sam Gilbert & wife that kept some of the Bruins' top black players (Hazzard, Warren, Alcindor, Wicks, Rowe) from leaving early due to various team or campus social issues.
A perfect storm of innovative fast-paced, motion-flowing play favored by Wooden, mixed with the craftiness of Norman's zone press & half-court defensive strategies, and the good fortune to get Alcindor & Walton, the two most versatile-talented college centers of all time, to come to play at UCLA, made the dynasty possible -- with the influence of Naulls & Gilbert playing pivotal roles as well.
Wooden was a great coach & teacher, without doubt, but author Seth Davis' research, the UCLA players' views & opposing coaches' thoughts show demonstrably that Wooden had several obvious flaws or faults -- he was no saint.
Yet, partly because Wooden lived so long (age 99, for 34 years after retiring), he was able to build strong off-court relationships with most of his former players -- something he had no time for while they played for him.
Perhaps that is Wooden's greatest legacy: you never stop learning how to improve yourself or the relationships in your life -- be you a player or a coach.