Wooden: A Coach's Life

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-01-14
  • Publisher: Times Books
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A provocative and revelatory new biography of the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, by one of America's top college basketball writers

No college basketball coach has ever dominated the sport like John Wooden. His UCLA teams reached unprecedented heights in the 1960s and '70s capped by a run of ten NCAA championships in twelve seasons and an eighty-eight-game winning streak, records that stand to this day. Wooden also became a renowned motivational speaker and writer, revered for his "Pyramid of Success."

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports has written the definitive biography of Wooden, an unflinching portrait that draws on archival research and more than two hundred interviews with players, opponents, coaches, and even Wooden himself. Davis shows how hard Wooden strove for success, from his All-American playing days at Purdue through his early years as a high school and college coach to the glory days at UCLA, only to discover that reaching new heights brought new burdens and frustrations. Davis also reveals how at the pinnacle of his career Wooden found himself on questionable ground with alumni, referees, assistants, and even some of his players. His was a life not only of lessons taught, but also of lessons learned.

Woven into the story as well are the players who powered Wooden's championship teams Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard, and others many of whom speak frankly about their coach. The portrait that emerges from Davis's remarkable biography is of a man in full, whose life story still resonates today.

Author Biography

Seth Davis is the author of the New York Times bestseller When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball and the memoir Equinunk, Tell Your Story: My Return to Summer Camp. In 1995, he joined the staff of Sports Illustrated, where he is currently a senior writer. He is also an on-air studio analyst for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network during coverage of college basketball and the NCAA tournament. A graduate of Duke University, he lives with his family in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents


Prologue: The Den     1

Part One: Spring

     1. Hugh     7

     2. The Artesians     15

     3. Nell     24

     4. Piggy     31

     5. Johnny Wooden, All-American     43

     6. An English Teacher     52

     7. The Kautskys     68

     8. The Hurryin’ Sycamores     79

     9. Clarence     89

Part Two: Summer

     10. Unwelcome     105

     11. The Nonconformist     118

     12. L.A. Story     127

     13. Willie the Whale     135

     14. The Dons     145

     15. Pete     154

     16. Walt     172

     17. “Don’t Be a Homer!”     188

     18. Gail     197

     19. Perfect     211

Part Three: Autumn

     20. J. D.     233

     21. Lewis     242

     22. Stallball     256

     23. Game of the Century     275

     24. Kareem     298

     25. The Last Banquet     320

     26. The Redhead     338

     27. Sam     356

     28. Streaking     380

     29. Intolerable     399

     30. Farewell     420

Part Four: Winter

     31. Clean Gene     445

     32. The Shadow     459

     33. The Hardest Loss     477

     34. Andy     489

     35. Yonder     505

Epilogue: The Poet     516

John Wooden’s Coaching Record, 1946–1975     526

Notes     527

Acknowledgments     565

Index     569

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