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. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.


Sports Medley: March Madness, Final Four

by Tony Medley

Championship Game: Close as the Duke-Wisconsin game was, it was controlled by the officiating that was as consistently horrible throughout the tournament. These officials were so bad that they didnít even get the one play they reviewed on replay correct! While it was close, it was clear that a ball that went out of bounds was last touched by a Duke playerís finger. But they still awarded Duke the ball with less than two minutes left. So instead of Wisconsin having the ball, Duke came down and hit a 3 point shot. A minute and half earlier with Duke leading by 1, 59-58, Dukeís Justice Winslow stepped out of bounds right in front of an official, but he didnít call it. This resulted in Jahlil Okafor making a basket for 2 points for Duke instead of a turnover. Thatís five points for Duke (instead of potentially 4-6 points for Wisconsin) in a tight game in crunch time. As bad were the offensive charging fouls that should have been called on Duke but instead were called as defensive fouls against Wisconsin. Whenever a shooter jumps into a defender, thatís an offensive foul. But not in this NCAA. Even though I thought Duke was the better team, and I thought that, even when Wisconsin was leading by 9 in the second half, the quality of the officiating was ruinous. There were several non-fouls that were nonetheless called on Wisconsin in the second half and one horrible blocking foul on Wisconsin that was such a clear offensive charge that the Duke player looked as if he were a fullback in football charging into the line.

Iíve been watching college basketball for well over a half century and itís never been as unentertaining as it is today. The players canít shoot and the refereesí constant whistles completely eradicate the pace of the game. Does anybody find a game with a halftime score of 31-31 in a shot clock era palatable? Does anybody like a game decided by free throws? Does anybody like a game where thereís a whistle every few seconds? Let them play!

Iíd like to see these teams play without officials, like in a pickup game. Calling fouls these officials call would start fights in a pickup game.

All that said, Dukeís defense was one of the most stifling ever seen in an NCAA championship game. Offensively, Duke freshman Grayson Allenís performance off the bench brought back memories of the NCAAís all-time sixth man, UCLAís Kenny Washington, 1963-65 (coincidentally, Washington scored 26 points off the bench against Duke in 1964ís NCAA Championship Final).

Reverse Racism: After Kentucky was beaten by Wisconsin in the semi-final, when one of his teammates was responding to a question about Wisconsinís Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky, Kentuckyís Andrew Harrison muttered into a hot mic, ďF--- that nigga.Ē Were Harrison white and Kaminsky black, this would have caused a major explosion and Barrack Obama would have undoubtedly involved himself. But because itís a black man denigrating a white man, itís not even a tempest in a teapot, which is a shame. Fortunately, some people objected to this blatant double standard. Hereís what ESPNís Jay Jackson, a black man who played basketball at Duke, said, ďI think this is a microcosm of a bigger problem with our culture. If Frank Kaminsky had said that about Andrew Harrison, we would have been going crazyÖthe world would have stopped. But the fact that we as African American men are allowed to use that word to reference each other, itís supposed to be OK. Itís not OK. Itís something Iíve been having an issue with for a long time. People say it like itís just another word. Itís not another word. And I feel so strongly about itÖI think we need to make it a bigger deal, not about Andrew but about our culture because it shouldnít be acceptable to use between African  American brothers or African American brothers not, and itís time for us to change our ways.Ē Itís not just the use of the specific word. Itís time that black people who denigrate white people because of race should receive the same level of criticism, outrage, and condemnation as that given to whites who denigrate blacks.

The right team lost: There was something unappealing about Kentucky all year long. One thing was the way they were so universally overrated, some going so far as to say that they were so good they could compete in the NBA. That was ludicrous. Hereís a team that had several close calls throughout the year. In the semi-final they were outplayed by Notre Dame and should have lost. Then they lost fair and square to Wisconsin. They are a good team but they canít be rated among the best college teams of all time. Just as an example, they wouldnít stand a chance against Bill Waltonís 1971-73 UCLA teams who had two consecutive undefeated seasons, or Lew Alcindorís 1966-68 UCLA teams, who went 59-1. And if they had to play Notre Dame and Wisconsin for an entire season itís likely theyíd be 50%.

Another thing is their lack of class. Coach John Calipari disparaged Notre Dameís effort by saying, ďWe didnít play well.Ē Hey, Coach, the reason you didnít play well was because Notre Dame played better!

Then Harrison, his twin brother, Aaron, and their teammate, Willie Cauley-Stein, stormed off the court without shaking hands with the Wisconsin team, reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons, led by petty Isiah Thomas, who stormed off the court after losing the 1991 playoffs to Michael Jordanís Chicago Bulls without shaking hands. Apologists tried to claim that the Kentucky players got tired of waiting while Wisconsin celebrated. This doesnít wash for two reasons. The first is that Wisconsin lined up to shake hands well within a minute after the final buzzer. The second is that even if Wisconsin had taken a few moments to celebrate, itís incumbent upon the losers to wait patiently to shake hands.

 

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