Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. Click the Book to read the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information.


Steep (4/10)

by Tony Medley

This film caught me on the horns of a consistency dilemma. I love surfing movies and remember remarking in one of my reviews that I admired surfers who knew that all they wanted to do in life was surf, devoting their lives to their pleasure.

But this film, which is about extreme skiers, really rubbed me the wrong way. But itís about a very few people who know what they want to do in life and devote their lives to that pleasure. So why do I admire surfers and not these skiers?

I think for one reason it is that surfers arenít really doing something inherently stupid, and these people are. Whatís inherently stupid about extreme skiers? They go around the world looking for the steepest slopes, some more than 55į. When they find them, they helicopter in and ski down. If they fall, theyíre dead. If a surfer falls thereís a remote chance of death, but generally the worst that happens is that they get wet, which is what they were when they started. I can see very little difference between these extreme skiers and people who want to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and can see no reason to try to lionize them with a fawning documentary.

Doug Coombs, who is one of the extreme skiers followed and interviewed here, says about his wife, Emily, ďShe must think Iím a complete kook.Ē He died shortly thereafter in a skiing accident. His wife is shown saying that he died doing what he loved. Oh, isnít that great. He died doing what he loved and left a wife and two-year-old son without a husband and father. I donít know if that qualifies him as a kook, but he certainly seems irresponsible.

Coombs said a couple of other things in the film that didnít endear him to me. The first ďI hate seeing the people I know die,Ē doesnít set him apart from many people other than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The second is yet another real profundity, ďWhatís worse, (dying in a skiing accident) or a car accident? I think a car accident because skiers die knowing what theyíre doing.Ē Taking him at his word, that he died knowing what he was doing, then he died knowing that he was leaving a two-year-old son without a father. It seems to me that once an adult starts a family, he leaves the pleasures that threaten the viability of his family behind for the good of his family. Doug didnít seem to feel this responsibility, apparently feeling his love for skiing was more important than his responsibility to his wife and son. So maybe Iím not inconsistent in admiring the surfers and not these extreme skiers.

These people not only try to find steep slopes to ski, they also try to find cliffs off of which they can jump. They take parachutes, strap them to their back, and ski off the cliff.

There arenít many people who go in for extreme skiing, so I donít think that there will be many people who will find this film enthralling. I was looking forward to it. But there are so many shots of one person skiing down impossibly steep slopes that the film becomes mundane. Sure, the shots of snowy peaks are pretty, but, speaking of pretty, they get pretty old after 92 minutes.

Itís not that I donít like skiing. One of my favorite movies is the Michael Ritchie/Robert Redford Downhill Racer (1969), a terrific skiing movie about an Olympic ski racer. I can watch it time and again and enjoy it. This, on the other hand, put me to sleep.

top