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: Ball Hog Russell Westbrook is no MVP

by Tony Medley

Indefatigable Westbrook: When Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double on Thursday, February 26, scoring 39 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists, the world of talking heads went berserk. Many said he should be a prime candidate for MVP. Others compared him to Michael Jordan. I said, ďThere goes Westbrook again.Ē What the talking heads failed to mention, probably because they didnít look, was that Westbrook took 38 shotsÖand only made 12! Thatís a woeful shooting percentage of 31.5%. The shooting percentage for the rest of the team was 43% in that game. But his selfishness is made even more glaring if you look further. Westbrook played 42 minutes for his 38 shots. Thatís almost one shot per minute. But it gets worse. In a basketball game each team has possession of the ball approximately half the time. That means that Oklahoma City had possession of the ball for only 21 of Westbrookís 42 minutes of playing time. That translates to approximately one Westbrook shot every 30 seconds. Since thereís a 24 second clock in the NBA, it means that Westbrook took at least one shot every time Oklahoma City had possession, an astonishing statistic.

But, wait, you say. How did he get 11 assists as such a ball hog? To explain one must go back to the 1960s and another ball hog, Cincinnati Royals guard Oscar Robertson. Robertson led the league in assists six times and was always among the leaders in points scored per game, generally finishing second to Wilt Chamberlain. But the reason why Robertson got a lot of assists was that, unlike Magic Johnson, Robertson was always looking for the shot. He would dribble and dribble and dribble despite double and triple team defenses. As the shot clock ran down if he was physically unable to take a shot, he had to pass off. When the player he passed off to made a basket (he would have to shoot because the shot clock was running down to zero), Robertson got an assist. It was almost inevitable that if Robertson didnít take a shot, he would get an assist if they scored because instead of passing the ball around to find a man for the open shot like the Ď70s New York Knicks, the Royals just stood around watching Robertson dribble.

Thatís the same way with Westbrook. Heís always looking for a shot and always dribbling all over the court. If he canít get a shot off, heís almost certain to get an assist if Oklahoma City scores because the player to whom he passes will have to shoot quickly to beat the clock.

The second thing that the talking heads donít mention when nominating Westbrook as a potential MVP is that Oklahoma City lost the game! The next night Westbrook had a similar performance. He scored 40 points while taking 32 shots. But, again, Oklahoma City lost the game. Although his shooting percentage was a little better, 43.75%, thatís still below the league average of roughly 45%, and the rest of the team shot at a 50% rate in that game. So if Westbrook had taken fewer shots and passed off occasionally to let his better-shooting teammates take more shots in both games, itís arguable that Oklahoma City would have scored more points and won. This is an MVP? How valuable is a player who hogs the ball, takes a lot of shots, and scores a lot of points if his team loses?

The test for a basketball player is whether or not he makes the players around him better. Boston Celtics center Bill Russell did and was the biggest winner in basketball history. Russellís main opponent, Wilt Chamberlain (who constantly led the league in scoring), didnít make those around him better, and he was on only one championship team until he played under coach Bill Sharman with the Lakers and they won the title with Wilt passing and rebounding instead of shooting all the time. Michael Jordan did make those around him better and the Bulls won title after title. Russell Westbrook clearly does not make those around him better. Heís no MVP, regardless of what some isolated numbers might indicate.

 

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