Cover image for Coach Wooden and me : our 50-year friendship on and off the court
Title:
Coach Wooden and me : our 50-year friendship on and off the court
ISBN:
9781455542277
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grand Central Publishing, c2017.
Physical Description:
290 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Genre:
Summary:
When future NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still an 18-year-old high school basketball prospect from New York City named Lew Alcindor, he accepted a scholarship from UCLA largely on the strength of Coach John Wooden's reputation as a winner. It turned out to be the right choice, as Alcindor and his teammates won an unprecedented three NCAA championship titles. But it also marked the beginning of one of the most enduring friendships in the history of sports. Now Abdul-Jabbar reveals the inspirational story of how his bond with John Wooden evolved from a history-making coach-player mentorship into a deep and genuine friendship that transcended sports, shaped the course of both men's lives, and lasted for half a century. From the first day of practice, when the players were taught the importance of putting on their athletic socks properly, to gradually absorbing the sublime wisdom of Coach Wooden's now famous "Pyramid of Success"; to learning to cope with the ugly racism that confronted black athletes during the turbulent Civil Rights era as well as losing loved ones, Abdul-Jabbar fondly recalls how Coach Wooden's fatherly guidance not only paved the way for his unmatched professional success but also made possible a lifetime of personal fulfillment.
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Summary

Former NBA star and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores his 50-year friendship with Coach John Wooden, one of the most enduring and meaningful relationships in sports history.
Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller President Barack Obama's Favorite Book of 2017 A Boston Globe and Huffington Post Best Book of 2017 Pick
When future NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still an 18-year-old high school basketball prospect from New York City named Lew Alcindor, he accepted a scholarship from UCLA largely on the strength of Coach John Wooden's reputation as a winner. It turned out to be the right choice, as Alcindor and his teammates won an unprecedented three NCAA championship titles. But it also marked the beginning of one of the most extraordinary and enduring friendships in the history of sports. In COACH WOODEN AND ME, Abdul-Jabbar reveals the inspirational story of how his bond with John Wooden evolved from a history-making coach-player mentorship into a deep and genuine friendship that transcended sports, shaped the course of both men's lives, and lasted for half a century.
COACH WOODEN AND ME is a stirring tribute to the subtle but profound influence that Wooden had on Kareem as a player, and then as a person, as they began to share their cultural, religious, and family values while facing some of life's biggest obstacles. From his first day of practice, when the players were taught the importance of putting on their athletic socks properly; to gradually absorbing the sublime wisdom of Coach Wooden's now famous "Pyramid of Success"; to learning to cope with the ugly racism that confronted black athletes during the turbulent Civil Rights era as well as losing loved ones, Abdul-Jabbar fondly recalls how Coach Wooden's fatherly guidance not only paved the way for his unmatched professional success but also made possible a lifetime of personal fulfillment.
Full of intimate, never-before-published details and delivered with the warmth and erudition of a grateful student who has learned his lessons well, COACH WOODEN AND ME is at once a celebration of the unique philosophical outlook of college basketball's most storied coach and a moving testament to the all-conquering power of friendship.


Author Notes

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of six books for adults and three for children, many of them New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for TIME magazine, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture, and his essays and columns have also appeared in the Washington Post, in the Los Angeles Times and on Esquire.com, among other publications. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador. He lives in Southern California.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Anyone inclined to dismiss John Wooden and Abdul-Jabbar's relationship as merely coach and player- Abdul-Jabbar led Wooden's basketball teams at UCLA to three NCAA titles in the late 1960s-will rethink that miscalculation after reading this compact, engaging memoir. The two men remained close until Wooden's death at age 99 in 2010, Abdul-Jabbar writes: "Our friendship grew over shared values, over complicated loves and devastating losses, over a never truly satisfied search for understanding of this world and our place in it." Abdul-Jabbar discusses his own intellectual and spiritual growth, interweaving the lessons Wooden conveyed to him over the years. He shrewdly removes any mysticism from the famous friendship, showing Wooden as more than a "Pyramid of Success" figurehead. At Wooden's memorial service, Abdul-Jabbar recalls, "we all spoke about the lessons we learned from him rather than the games we had won." (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

One of the greatest basketball players in history reflects on one of the greatest coaches in history.Abdul-Jabbarthe NBA's all-time leading scorer who is now a writer of essays and books (Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White, 2016, etc.)notes several times the oddity of the friendship between a towering, urban African-American and a much smaller white Midwesterner with deep Christian convictions. But their friendship continued until Wooden died in 2010 at the age of 99. After summarizing his boyhood, the author tells how he decided on UCLA (he was the nation's most sought-after high school player) and how he adjusted to West Coast life and Wooden-style basketball. During his college days, freshmen couldn't play varsity, and dunking was proscribed, so who knows what wonders he could have otherwise achieved? Throughout, Abdul-Jabbar asserts continually that it was Wooden's example that became most meaningful to him. The coach believed in physical fitness and team play, and he lived by a high ethical standard that deeply impressed the author, who can hardly bear to mention the coach's (few) stumblesthough he does devote a chapter to them, a chapter that pales in comparison to the positive ones. Abdul-Jabbar's style is free and easy, with some flashes of humor. An occasional error appears on the score sheetCarl Stokes was the mayor of Cleveland, not Detroitbut the author is candid about his attitudes toward the racial turmoil of the 1960s, his conversion to Islam, his experiences suffering racial taunts from fans of opposing teamsand, in one grim case, from his high school coach, a conflict since reconciled. The author's account of his visit to Wooden on his deathbed is wrenching. A pleasant expression of deep appreciation for a man who changed the author's life by enriching it. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* John Wooden recruited Lew Alcindor (as Abdul-Jabbar was then known) in the mid-sixties to play basketball at UCLA. On the surface, it was an odd match. Abdul-Jabbar was a seven-foot-tall, black, jazz-loving city kid with a growing social consciousness. Wooden was a product of rural Indiana, short of six feet, with a penchant for big-band swing and a moral compass that was forged by traditional conservative values. Initially, the relationship was the one you'd expect from a player and his coach, but it deepened over time, as Abdul-Jabbar recounts in this moving memoir. When Abdul-Jabbar was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers, he reestablished contact with his former coach, eventually attending UCLA games together or watching westerns on a small television in Wooden's memorabilia-stuffed den. On the surface, this curious pair was very different, but they came together on a variety of fronts, including civil rights, about which Abdul-Jabbar, the activist, and Wooden, the conservative, found much to discuss and ultimately agree upon. As age began to take its toll on Wooden, the relationship deepened still further. There is an incredibly moving passage toward the end of the book in which Abdul-Jabbar and a very frail Wooden are leaving a UCLA game, and Wooden subtly slips his hand in his friend's for support. Abdul-Jabbar and Wooden shared a priceless friendship, and this sensitive, sharply written account brings it to full, vivid life.--Lukowsky, Wes Copyright 2017 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In his latest work, NBA champion and author Abdul-Jabbar (Writings on the Wall; On the Shoulders of Giants) relates his 50-year relationship with UCLA coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden (1910-2010). Wooden's philosophy of teamwork and preparation led UCLA to win ten NCAA championships, including three with Abdul-Jabbar between 1967 and 1969. Here, the author describes the structured practices at the university, where Wooden even taught his freshman players how to properly tie their shoe. Beyond basketball, the heart of this memoir is private moments between Wooden and Abdul-Jabbar, such as a Thanksgiving dinner, conversations about Muhammad Ali or jazz, or a prayer said at Wooden's deathbed. Abdul-Jabbar does not shy away from how race and religion have impacted his life, including racist slurs leveled by opponents and fans. He explains why he changed his name, converted to Islam, and opposed attending the 1968 Olympics, while also reflecting on how the death of loved ones and the shared experience of grief strengthened the bond between player and coach. VERDICT This stunning eulogy will appeal to readers far beyond the confines of sports. Highly recommended.-Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.