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: UCLA Basketball First Report: 12 Dec 16

by Tony Medley

History repeats itself: In December, 1963 UCLA’s undefeated and number seven ranked basketball team played number two-ranked Michigan in the Christmas tournament at the Sports Arena. UCLA was poorly respected nationally and Michigan was a big favorite. The Bruins blew Michigan off the court that night en route to its first undefeated season and first NCAA championship.

This December number two -ranked Bruins played number seven ranked Michigan at Pauley Pavilion and the result was the same as it was 53 years ago, a dominating victory. This team has the best talent since the Love–Westbrook –Collison team of 2007-8, but it is much better coached (that’s damning with faint praise because the 2007-8 Bruins were probably the worst coached team in the history of college basketball; its fast break talent totally dissipated by a slow-down, defense-oriented coach).

 In fact, this year’s team is loaded with talent led by two phenomenal freshmen, Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf and with many exceptional outside shooters. It will be a shock if this team does not win the NCAA championship. However, crosstown rival USC has quietly also started out its season undefeated, although its schedule has been much weaker than UCLA’s.

Turn off the sound: “Let’s be honest. Back in the Wooden days, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, played at UCLA as a walk-on. People don’t know that… So it was a different era, obviously.” Dan Dakich, ESPN commentator on the UCLA-Michigan game of December 12.

People don’t know that, Dan, because it is flatly not so. In fact, you are the only person in the world who “knows” that. This is Wikipedia’s definition of a walk on: “The term walk-on is used in sports, particularly American college athletics, to describe an athlete who becomes part of a team without being actively recruited beforehand or awarded an athletic scholarship. This results in the differentiation between ‘walk-on’ players and ‘scholarship’ players.”

In fact, Alcindor was the most highly recruited high school basketball player of his era, and he attended UCLA on a full basketball scholarship. This was confirmed to me by UCLA’s assistant basketball coach at that time, Jerry Norman, who personally recruited Alcindor.

There are only two alternatives here. The first is that Dakich is so ill-informed he does not know what a “walk on” is. The second is that he just made it up out of whole cloth. Either way, for him to make a silly, counterfactual statement like this emphasizes that he should not be broadcasting sports on a national network.

Turn off the sound #2: After Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz had to run out of bounds in the fourth quarter of the Redskins-Eagles game, Fox Analyst John Lynch said, “I’ll tell you one thing that this team has not learned how to do. If you watch Aaron Rodgers, what happens when he runs around and extends? They find the open spot. Carson Wentz moves around and nobody comes back to him; no one works to the sideline; they all kind of go (unintelligible)… Make yourself an option! No one’s doin’ it.” The problem was that he was saying this over a video replay of the receivers downfield and one of them had broken to the sideline and the other one had come back, as Lynch falsely said they were not doing; both were open. These talking heads speak without reference to what is actually happening in front of them because they realize that most of their audience doesn’t realize that what they are hearing is bogus nonsense.

Turn off the sound #3: The Rams’ Mike Thomas fumbled the opening kick in the Rams-Falcons game (I use that term advisedly; “game” implies competition) and the Falcons recovered on the 3 yard line and then scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, so they were leading 7-0 after eight seconds, despite kicking off. Fox’s commentator, David Diehl, gave this insightful commentary, “That is not the start that they needed for the Los Angeles Rams,” thereby validating the big bucks they pay him.

Dump Kroenke: The Rams are last in points scored, first downs per game, yards per game, yards per play, and third-down conversions. Changing quarterbacks to Jared Goff has not made any improvement, as anyone who knows anything about football knew. What do all the fans and sports writers who demanded a change of quarterback want now? Stan Kroenke bought full control of the Rams in 2010. He hired the coach and general manager, kept them, and extended them. Why don’t they place blame where it should reside and demand a new owner?