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: The NBA’s list of its Top Players; Really? 29 Feb 16

 If you want to see witlessness in action, look at the NBA’s list of its 100 top players. Here are the top 10: 

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
  3. LeBron James
  4. Magic Johnson
  5. Wilt Chamberlain
  6. Larry Bird
  7. Bill Russell
  8. Tim Duncan
  9. Shaquille O’Neal
  10. Hakeem Olajuwon

Words don’t fail me but any list of “the greatest” NBA players that doesn’t start with Bill Russell is an ignorant, uninformed sham. It’s akin to a list of “the greatest” baseball players that doesn’t lead off with Babe Ruth.

For a league that prizes “rings” above all else, Russell was the most dominant sports figure in the history of the United States. In two years of college basketball he won two NCAA Championships, losing only one game in the process (to UCLA). In 13 years of playing in the NBA he won 11 “rings.” And one of his two losses was in 1958 when he was injured and didn’t play in the 4th and 5th games of the Championship series against the St. Louis Hawks, both won by St. Louis, and was hobbling in the final 6th game (when Bob Pettit, another great player disrespected by this list, scored 50 points. The NBA lists Pettit at #34, just above Jason Kidd; which is damning with faint praise).

Russell won with Coach Red Auerbach. He won without Coach Red Auerbach. His team almost completely changed personnel three times in the 13 years and he just kept winning. Here are the starting lineups in his first championship year and his last championship year:

1957                                        1969

Tommy Heinsohn                      Bailey Howell

Jim Luscotoff                            Tom Sanders

Bill Russell                                Bill Russell

Bob Cousy                                John Havlicek

Bill Sharman                              Larry Siegfried

Coach: Red Auerbach                  Coach: Bill Russell

To contrast, Michael Jordan never won a “ring” without Phil Jackson and Scotty Pippen. How many “rings” has James won? Two in 12 years, both with the same team and the same players and coach. In 20 years of play, Jabbar won only 6 “rings,” and only one without Magic Johnson.

Ranking Wilt above Russell  could only be explained by youngsters who never saw them play and make their decisions on statistics. Russell consistently outplayed Wilt or at least held him even (Wilt was 7-1, 4 inches taller than Russell at 6-9) when they met. And, for the record, in his entire career Wilt only won two “rings,” and never won an NCAA title.

“Rings” aside, statistics don’t begin to tell the story of Russell. If you never saw him play you cannot conceive of how his presence on the court dominated the entire game. He was a basketball savant, towering above everyone else.

If you speak with people who played or followed the game in the ‘50s and ‘60s, you will find very few (I would say none) who would ever pick Wilt or any of the other six players listed here above Russell. It takes a lot of chutzpah and a lot of ignorance to publish a list like this.