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.

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

Sports Medley: Roberts’ Use of Pitchers Defies Rationality 16 May 16

by Tony Medley

Choice of pitchers nonsense: On Sunday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts epitomized why today’s game is virtually unwatchable for anyone with even a modicum of common sense.

After six innings, Dodgers’ starter, Alex Wood, had allowed only three hits, one run, and one walk while striking out five in six innings. Apparently because of pitch count, Roberts yanked him. Wood had thrown 92 pitches. Wood is 25 years old, young and healthy. There’s no earthly reason why he can’t pitch an entire nine innings like pitchers did from 1876 to around 1980. For the first 80 years of the 20th Century (1901-1980), the pitcher who led the league in complete games averaged 27.13 complete games a year, and that’s just the league leader. Since 2000, only one pitcher has pitched more than 10 complete games (James Shields pitched 11 in 2011). Clayton Kershaw led the NL last year with 2! Either pitchers are getting woefully weaker or the pitch count theory is unmitigated rubbish.

Roberts yanked Wood for Louis Coleman, who pitched to one batter and retired him. Apparently that’s not what Roberts wanted, so he pulls Coleman, and inserts J.P. Howell, who allowed an infield single and retired the next man, moving the runner to second.

Again, retiring hitters is apparently not what Roberts wants, so out he pops again, and removes Howell for a guy named Joe Blanton, who was ordered by Roberts to intentionally walk .224 hitting Bandon Moss. Up walks pinch hitter Yadier Molina who immediately blasts a 2 run scoring double. After a passed ball, Blanton served up a run scoring sacrifice fly.

Roberts had finally found the guy he wanted on the mound, someone who allowed lots of runners to cross the plate, so he leaves the obviously ineffective Blanton in for the next inning and he allows another run. As a result, the Dodgers are now behind 5-1.

This leaves everyone to wonder what would have happened had Roberts just sat on the bench and left his starting pitcher in the game. Wood allowed one run on 3 hits in 6 innings; the bullpen allowed 4 runs on 4 hits in two innings, and the two relievers who actually got people out were pulled. Only the reliever who got bombed found favor with Roberts and stayed in the game.

Here’s some free advice for Dave: your bullpen is well below par; forget the simplistic, irrational pitch count theory and stick with your starters when they are pitching well. When it comes to charging out of the dugout to change pitchers, you would do well to follow the Latin proverb, Bene qui latuit bene vixit, “He lives well who lives unnoticed.”

But I don’t condemn Roberts alone. All 30 managers in the Major Leagues act and think in lock step. This nonsensical handling of pitchers drove me from the game decades ago. The only reason I watch major league baseball now is because I’m writing this column.

Sour grapes or stupidity? “For him (Steph Curry) to be the first player to get that (unanimous MVP) I think it just tells you how watered down our league is. Think about when MJ played and Shaq. Those guys really played against top notch competition. More superstars on more teams than there is in our league today. I just think that someone like LeBron deserved to get at least one vote.” Tracy McGrady, ESPN analyst.

I’m no ESPN analyst (for one thing, I use proper grammar), but I’ve watched the NBA since the inception of the 24 second clock in 1954, so I’ve seen a lot more than McGrady has (he was born in 1979, so his personal knowledge of basketball couldn’t be much before 1990). That means that I have 36 more years of personal knowledge of the NBA than McGrady. While I admire the quality of players I saw in the ‘50s and ‘60s (Russell, Sharman, Cousy, West, Baylor, Robertson, Pettit, Schayes, the list goes on and on), the athleticism of the players today far exceeds what I saw in those days. I’ve never seen a quicker guard, for instance, than Russell Westbrook (he would be a blur to guys like Cousy and Sharman). I’ve never seen a better shooter than Curry. There is as much, if not more, talent in the NBA today than there ever has been. McGrady is out to lunch.

Jockspeak: “They have to do a much better job of keeping he and Dwayne Wade out of the paint.” Jalen Rose, ABC NBA analyst, who majored in mass communications at Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Maryland.  In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter named Rose the most influential media voice in the NBA with the title of “The Smartest Specialist.” Apparently “smart” and courses in “mass communication” don’t include the knowledge and use of basic grammar.