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Author Topic: • Basketball Bibliography: Our Unique Game of Basketball History, Biographies and Facts  (Read 161525 times)
BGA John Volger
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Posts: 1303

« Reply #4 on: Feb 14, 2012, 06:29:00 AM »

Basketball Bibliography: Our Unique Game of Basketball History, Biographies and Facts

...a New Week ...a New Basketball eBook eBA DVICE !
Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble by Brian Meeks
Two Decades and Counting:
The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes
Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble
by Brian Meeks

Marble, releasing his book "Two Decades and Counting, The Streak, The Wins, The Hawkeyes ... Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble" this week, is the local face of the franchise - Iowa's all-time leading scorer and father of current sophomore guard Devyn Marble while settling down himself in Cedar Rapids.
He's a storyteller to his son and his son's teammates, of which many tales will come to life just now because this year is the silver anniversary
of that team winning a school record 30 games and qualifying for the Elite Eight on the strength of eight future NBA draft picks.

The book chronicles the 1987 Iowa men’s basketball’s team that won its first 18 games, reached the number one ranking in the country, posted a school-record 30 wins and was one victory from reaching the program’s fourth NCAA Final Four.

Two Decades and Counting

Roy Marble joined the Iowa men’s basketball program in 1985 and became the school’s all-time leading scorer when he left four years later.

But to Marble, his basketball accolades on the court were just a small part of his life story. Marble, 45, arrived in Iowa City from Flint, Mich., as a superstar athlete but quickly was knocked down to size by University of Iowa rhetoric professor Louise Kelly. Marble said his encounter with Kelly changed his life, and it’s one of several stories in his new book, “Two Decades and Counting: The Streak, The Wins, the Hawkeyes, Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble.”

The book, which is written by Brian D. Meeks, was not a project Marble initially embraced. Marble’s son, Roy Devyn Marble, was set to join the Iowa basketball program in the summer of 2010 when Meeks sought Marble about the book. Marble said he didn’t want to get in the way or overshadow his son’s college career.

“I’ve had a few bumps in the road and I was like, ‘Who wants to hear from me?’” Marble said. “Now I have a son playing and a daughter that’s been offered by Iowa. It’s like, you should just sit your ass down. It’s an uncomfortable situation.”

Meeks was persistent, and Marble’s family encouraged him to tell his story. Even Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery got behind the project. So Marble decided to tell his story.

Marble, who now lives in Cedar Rapids, is quick to praise former Iowa athletics director Bump Elliott and women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer as well as current trainer John Streif and associate athletics director Fred Mims. But Marble said Kelly was the person who gave him the confidence to share his story and become a complete person, rather than just an athlete. ......

... Buy SAFELY   Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble by Brian Meeks  DIRECTLY from ...

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...... “I don’t know anybody who had the accolades I had coming in here in the history of Iowa basketball,” Marble said. “I really bumped heads with this lady (Kelly), and she got on my nerves. I thought I could say, ‘Well screw this, and I’m going on my way to practice.’

“I went to practice but I stopped to see Fred Mims and said, ‘This lady isn’t going to work out. Transfer me to another class.’ He told me, ‘I don’t think you understand. If you don’t do what she says, then you’re not going to practice. You’re not going to be in this school. So take your ass back over there and get your assignment completed.”

Marble initially pouted but returned to Kelly’s class. Kelly then told him to write about his childhood and journey from Flint to Iowa City.

“Everything just exploded from there,” Marble said. “She turned out to be my friend, the best lady. I wouldn’t even have confidence to try this if she hadn’t told me, ‘You’ll be a complete player, you’ll start to understand what it means to evaluate, to write and expand your knowledge on paper rather than with your physical presence and with your mouth.’

“She broke me on that and from that moment on, I was a Hawkeye.”

The book was released  on February 3, 2012 to coincide with the celebration of Iowa’s 1986-87 men’s basketball team, which finished 30-5. Marble was a sophomore that year, the only Iowa squad ever ranked No. 1, and averaged 14.9 points a game. He was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 1989 but played only one season. He later re-emerged with the Denver Nuggets for five games and played professionally in other leagues in parts of seven years.

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Kevin Gamble hits the game winner and gets Iowa to the 1987 Elite 8

The Iowa Hawkeyes reached the Regional Final on that coldblooded shot from Gamble, only to be upset by UNLV.
  That Hawkeyes team was loaded with good players like B.J. Armstrong, Kevin Gamble, Brad Lohaus and Roy Marble.


The expectations were high, and the results were record breaking.

Before the 1986–87 season began, the pre-season AP poll had the Iowa Hawkeyes ranked tenth. Iowa fans suspected it might be low as they had Roy Marble, whom Sports Illustrated had compared to another number 23, Michael Jordan.

The streak began at the Great Alaska Shootout and continued until they had won more consecutive games than any team in Iowa men’s basketball history. This is the story of that season, the players, the coaches, and what it was like to cheer for that very special team.

From the book:  ” It was hard on Roy when Coach Raveling left, and there was even a moment when he considered following him to USC. But in the end, Iowa City had become his basketball home. Roy loved the town and the people, and the new coach was a good one.

That first night, so many miles from Iowa City, Roy saw the familiar Black and Gold in the stands. Did they come for the games, or did they live there? Hawkeye fans were everywhere. After long hours, hard work, and the music in his mind, his sophomore season was about to begin. Roy was ready. All the Hawks were as well. ”

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Praises for:
Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes
Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble by Brian Meeks

"... In the history of Iowa Hawkeye basketball, the 1986-87 team was one of the greatest of all-time and eight players off that team would go onto get drafted in the NBA.  Though back than they did have seven rounds in the NBA draft as opposed to just two rounds in the current format.  Still, it is quite an amazing feat that they had that many players get drafted from one team.

Roy Marble would be a key member of the Hawkeyes success as soon as he stepped foot on the court in 1985. In his first year at Iowa in 1985, Marble won Big Ten Freshman of the Year.   After his career ended at Iowa in 1989, he went onto be selected in the first round of that year’s NBA Draft as the 23rd pick by the Atlanta Hawks.

For Iowa Hawkeye fans, Roy Marble will always be a fan favorite and his book will be a must-read. ...”
The Hawk Talk

"...  Marble, who scored more points at Iowa than any other basketball player in the school's history, never made it very big beyond college. He played just 29 games in parts of two seasons in the NBA.
The shining beacon of his career remains the 1986-87 season. Led by new coach Tom Davis and sparked by Marble, an acrobatic 6-foot-6 forward, the Hawkeyes emerged from the doldrums of the George Raveling era, won their first 18 games, finished 30-5 and could have (really should have) won the national championship.
It's the standard by which all subsequent Iowa teams are judged. ..."
Don Doxsie ~

Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble by Brian Meeks

"... Brian D. Meeks found a love of writing through a random act of blogging. On Jan 2, 2010, he was overcome by boredom and found With little else to do before the football game kicked off, he wrote a piece about woodworking.
Later that same day, while visiting a woodworking forum, he found a button labeled ‘blog’, so he cut and pasted the piece he had written and then went to watch football.

The next day, out of curiosity, he checked back in on his blog piece. The one on forum had over 300 hits and 25 comments, many of them requesting more. This surprising dose of external validation prompted him to write a post on Jan 3. He has written every day since. ..."
Dorothy Thompson ~  Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Click here to read the Chapters 1, 2 and 3 from
"Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes
Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble" by Brian Meeks

About the Author: Brian Meeks

Two Decades and Counting: The Wins, The Streak, The Hawkeyes Thru the Eyes of Roy Marble by Brian Meeks
Brian Meeks is the author of the ongoing Henry Wood Detective series. He has also released a book about the 1986-87 Iowa Hawkeyes Men's basketball team that went 30-5, which is still a record at the school.  He has written all of the Henry Wood novels in serial form on his blog. His background is in data analysis, he has a degree in Economics from IowaStateUniversity, and before Jan 2, 2010, though writing was something one did when they were being punished by their 8th grade English teacher.

"... I am driven by the power of words to move thoughts and hearts. I like how some words, which don't belong together, when mixed, produce a delightful result. That is why I choose the moniker Extremely Average. A clever passage in a book makes me stop, reflect, and then I want to write.

It is later in life that I've discovered the joy of word smithing. I've been writing since Jan 2, 2010. It was my first blog piece and I've used the blog to complete 3 novels in the Henry Wood Detective series. I've also written the bulk of my new book, Two Decades and Counting, during the first three weeks in January.

I have no pedigree or education in the matter of writing, save for those who have filled my bookshelves with all manner of tale. I like Kipling, Nabakov, Tugnev, Elmore Leonard, Vikram Seth, J.K. Rowling, and all things mystery. They have been my teachers. I leave it up to you, to judge their results.

I had every intention of working on another Henry Wood chapter for tonight, but it just didn’t come to pass.  I spent much of the day figuring out how to do a press release.   I don’t like them, not one bit.  It is apparent to me why there are people who do it for a living, because it is definitely a unique skill set.

I have added it to the list of writing chores I would rather do without.  It is a short list.  The other entry is the synopsis.  I believe the synopsis and press release may be wicked step sisters.

It is hard to say why they are so unpleasant to deal with and I’m hopeful that with time I will find them less daunting.  Still, they need to be done.  I did finish it.
Brian Meeks

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  Brian Meeks


•   Author: Brian Meeks
•   Format:  eBook & Book
•   Book Edition Number of Pages: 222 ~ 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
•   File Size:  596 KB
•   Browse Duration in Minutes: 60
•   Wireless Delivery: Included within a minute of placing your order
•   Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
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•   Publisher: Brian Meeks
•   Publishing Date: NEW ON January 27, 2012
•   eBook Edition: NEW ON February 3, 2012
•   Book Edition Binding: Paperback
•   Book Edition Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
•   Language: English

•   Also available: In the   classic paperback edition

... more    info at ...

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Educados para ganar por Sique Rodríguez Gairí
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HBC Brian Denver
Hero Member
Posts: 1351

« Reply #3 on: Jan 10, 2012, 10:55:35 AM »

Basketball Bibliography: Our Unique Game of Basketball History, Biographies and Facts

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The Last Great Game:
Duke vs. Kentucky
and the 2.1 Seconds
That Changed Basketball
by Gene Wojciechowski

The 1992 NCAA East Regional final between Duke University and the University of Kentucky is considered one of the best basketball games of all time, one that ended with the improbable. With just over two seconds left in overtime, Grant Hill threw a perfect 80-foot inbounds pass to Christian Laettner, who made the game-winning basket over two defenders as time expired.
As compelling as this historic game was, so were the backgrounds of the teams involved. Kentucky was thought to be years away from a Final Four berth, but head coach Rick Pitino and his punishing game plan resurrected a scandal-plagued program. Duke, coming off a national championship, was a perennial powerhouse whose driven players were convinced another title was theirs.
Wojciechowski, a senior reporter for, traces the two teams’ path to each other and the game’s impact on its participants, but little space is devoted to the hypothesis promised in the title. We never learn how this legendary tilt influenced college basketball or why it’s the defining game in an intensely popular sport.
Though fans of both colleges will lap up the locker room tales and glory day remembrances, Wojciechowski’s effort reads too much like a prodigiously reported magazine article.

Gene Wojciechowski about 'The Last Great Game'

"... I wrote the book because it's the best game I've ever seen and/or covered in person. I wrote it because I loved the story of the Unforgettables, Pitino, Mashburn and CM Newton. I wrote it because I admired what Krzyzewski did with a dysfunctional Duke team. I wrote it because Laettner intrigued me. I wrote it because I love the passion of UK fans. Most of all, I wrote it because it was the only game I've ever seen where the losing team didn't really lose. That game helped make Kentucky, well, Kentucky again. Even in defeat, it was a defining moment for that program and those players. I know they lost a game, but they won back the Kentucky basketball name. ...

"... Gene Wojciechowski: Best game I've ever watched. Best game I've ever covered. About other games I'd have to think about that. I've seen a lot of stuff. Game 6 of this latest World Series was amazing. I covered the Villanova win against Georgetown for the national title—at Rupp. I covered the infamous Chris Webber timeout call against North Carolina in the national championship game at the Superdome. I was there for the Bartman Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. And I've seen a lot of Tiger Woods.

"... Well, I would tell Kentucky fans there's nothing I can do about the final score. Laettner made a shot for the ages and Kentucky fans, who are among the most knowledgeable hoops fans on the planet, surely have to appreciate what he did from a basketball standpoint. They might not like Duke, Laettner or The Shot, but they know they witnessed something historic.

But the book isn't just about the game. It's about how C.M. Newton and President Roselle put back together the pieces of the UK program. How Pitino came to be the head coach. How a little-known strength and conditioning coach named Rock Oliver helped make those players into a basketball machine. How three Kentucky kids and an Indiana kid became legends for UK. How Mashburn helped save the program. How, even in defeat, Kentucky really won.

I loved writing about the Kentucky players and staff. And Duke's players and coaches, to this day, marvel at the dignity, integrity and talent displayed by that 1992 UK team. Some of the very best stuff in the book is Krzyzewski and Laettner and Grant Hill talking about how great that UK team was. ..."
Gene Wojciechowski

... Buy SAFELY   The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski  ONLY at ...

The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski

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The 2.1 Seconds that Changed Basketball

Thorough chronicle of the legendary 1992 NCAA basketball tournament clash between Duke and Kentucky.

Duke’s last-second triumph over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA East Regional is one of the most indelible moments in the history of college sports. Most college-basketball fans remember where they were when Duke’s Christian Laettner sank the miracle game-winning shot.

Veteran ESPN columnist Wojciechowski (co-author, with Jerome Bettis: The Bus, 2008, etc.) tells the story of the game, and the two teams’ seasons leading up to it, with a newspaperman’s eye for detail. Arguably college basketball’s most iconic program, Kentucky, under new coach Rick Pitino, wasn’t even supposed to be a threat for the championship, just two seasons removed from crippling NCAA sanctions over widespread rules infractions. Duke, the defending NCAA champions, were on their way to becoming a modern dynasty under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The author explores the backgrounds and personalities of the opposing coaches and key players including, Kentucky’s freshman superstar Jamal Mashburn and Duke’s Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley. Wojciechowski neatly deals with the problem of a book-length exploration of a single game by retelling it twice, once from each team’s perspective.

Though it obviously cannot compare with the excitement of watching the action, the book ably recaptures the energy of one of sport’s greatest moments. In Laettner, a villain to everyone except Duke fans, including some of his own teammates, the author finds a surprisingly complex protagonist, and the story’s most intriguing character.

A fitting, illuminating tribute to a game that many believe was the best ever.
  Kirkus Review


The definitive book on the greatest game in the history of college basketball, and the dramatic road both teams took to get there.

March 28, 1992. The final of the NCAA East Regional, Duke vs. Kentucky. The 17,848 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the millions watching on TV could say they saw the greatest game and the greatest shot in the history of college basketball. But it wasn't just the final play of the game-an 80-foot inbounds bass from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner with 2.1 seconds left in overtime- that made Duke's 105-104 victory so memorable. The Kentucky and Duke players and coaches arrived at that point from very different places, each with a unique story to tell.

In The Last Great Game, acclaimed ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski tells their stories in vivid detail, turning the game we think we remember into a drama filled with suspense, humor, revelations and reverberations. The cast alone is worth meeting again: Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bobby Hurley, Jamal Mashburn, Christian Laettner, Sean Woods, Grant Hill, and Bobby Knight.

Timed for the game's 20th anniversary, The Last Great Game isn't a book just for Duke or Kentucky or even basketball fans. It's a book for any reader who can appreciate that great moments in sports are the result of hard work, careful preparation, group psychology, and a little luck.

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     With 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime, Duke trailed 103-102.
     Grant Hill threw a pass the length of the court
     to Christian Laettner, who dribbled once, turned,
     and hit a jumper as time expired for the 104-103 win.
     Brought to you by CBS SportsLine and CSTV.

Praises for:
The Last Great Game:
Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball
by Gene Wojciechowski

"... I figured I had read every quote and every account of the famed Duke-Kentucky Regional Final game in 1992, but Gene Wojciechowski managed to put me right back in 1992, making it all brand new and keeping me on the edge of my seat. His new book, THE LAST GREAT GAME: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds that Changed Basketball, cleverly infuses the emotion, tension and humor of not only the in-game action, but everything that lead up to that “one shining moment.”

Weaving in first-hand recollections and quotes from players, staff and family, he gives the reader a fresh perspective all these years later. He takes you back and forth between pivotal moments for the Duke and Kentucky programs, building excitement as you go on each team’s journey toward the 1992 Final Four.

I’m impressed with this book on many levels. Although written for sports fans, there is enough going on that someone who may not even be familiar with Duke or Kentucky basketball can enjoy it.

Wojciechowski has put together the definitive and most entertaining account of “The Last Great Game.”

If you would like to check out the author (Gene Wojciechowski) here are some upcoming events. ..."
Duke Blogger

About the Author: Gene Wojciechowski
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for and a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine. Before joining ESPN in 1998, he worked as a sports reporter for The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
He has received four Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards, and his work has been featured in the annual Best American Sports Writing series.

He has authored or coauthored eight other books, including The Bus: My Life in and out of a Helmet, the bestselling autobiography of Jerome Bettis.
  Wojciechowski lives in Wheaton, Illinois.

Click here to check ALL the BOOKS & eBOOKS by ( or about )
  Gene Wojciechowski


•  Authors: Gene Wojciechowski
•  Format:  eBook & Print Book
•  Book Edition Number of Pages: 320 ~ 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
•  File Size:  1272 KB
•  Browse Duration in Minutes: 90
•  Wireless Delivery: Included within a minute of placing your order
•  Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
•  Lending: Enabled
•  Publisher: Blue Rider Press
•  Publishing Date: NEW ON January 5, 2012
•  eBook Edition: NEW ON January 5, 2012
•  Book Edition Binding: Hardcover
•  Book Edition Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
•  Language: English

•  Also available: In the   classic hardcover edition

... more  The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski  info at ...

The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski

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                    Los mejores artículos de baloncesto en Internet por Sergio Scariolo y Autores Varios
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HBC Brian Denver
Hero Member
Posts: 1351

« Reply #2 on: Nov 06, 2011, 04:06:54 AM »

Basketball Bibliography: Our Unique Game of Basketball History, Biographies and Facts

...a New Week ...a New Basketball eBook eBA DVICE !

West by West:
My Charmed, Tormented Life
by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

A pressure-embracing superstar with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1960s and 1970s, West (called “Mr. Clutch”) was so revered that the NBA used his silhouette for its famed logo.
  After a legendary Hall of Fame playing career, West became the Lakers’ general manager, helping to assemble squads that won eight world championships in the 1980s and 2000s.
Such lofty accomplishments did little to abate a self-destructive competitive spirit and crippling bouts of depression, the results of a miserable childhood in West Virginia.

West’s beloved older brother, David, was killed in the Korean War; their father regularly beat the skinny, younger, West, inspiring a murderous, unforgiving hatred. “And the real enemy is myself, “ writes West, in this candid and self-reflecting autobiography.

That willingness to share, however, extends little beyond his tortured soul, as he holds back in detailing his occasionally tense relationships with coaches like Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and storied players such as Kobe Bryant (who declined to be interviewed for the book).

West’s reluctance to detail his dealings with others coupled with the authors’ anecdotal style lead to a lack of perspective and narrative heft that doesn’t befit the rich, complex life of such an iconic sports figure.

From the player so iconic his silhouette forms the NBA logo, a memoir intended to explain himself to fans and to...himself.

Jerry West is on everyone's list of the greatest basketball players ever. As the general manager of the Lakers, he assembled six championship teams. He's so beloved and admired, there's a statue of him outside Los Angeles's Staples Center. Who wouldn't want to be Jerry West? Well, maybe Jerry West, for one.

He played basketball, he writes, "to try and feel good about myself when everything else in my life was confusing and frustratingly unexplainable." An abusive father, an emotionally remote mother and the Korean War death of a favorite older brother accounted for this withdrawn, overly sensitive youth who turned to basketball to feel alive and in control.

The game became a sanctuary, but did nothing to repair a tormented soul and perhaps even exacerbated some "weird" tendencies that have complicated his life. Notwithstanding all his on-court success, his reputation as "Mr. Clutch," this tortured perfectionist remains "scarred" by his failures: a one-point loss in the 1959 NCAA championship game, six NBA Finals losses to the '60s Celtics, not winning the MVP award for his outstanding 1969-70 season.

Hardcore fans will relish West's reflections on the game that has obsessed him, stories about teammates and opposing players and his selections for an all-time Dream Game. They'll likely be surprised by his erudition—he peppers the narrative with allusions to writers as disparate as Malamud, Merton, Didion, Gladwell and Joseph Campbell—and the numerous, unflattering personal revelations.

West makes scalding comments about people as diverse as Douglas MacArthur, Jesse Jackson and Phil Jackson, but he reserves his harshest commentary for himself as a brother, father and husband. He grapples with the role of a sports hero, a mantle he's loath to embrace, and appears to have made a sincere, if not always successful, attempt at self-awareness.

In a genre notorious for merely waving pompoms, West offers an unusually candid account of his personal and professional life.

Jerry West on Phil Jackson, Wilt, Kareem, Kobe, Magic and everything:
A searing, searching autobiography

Jerry West isn’t one for the therapist’s couch, though, at the urging of his wife Karen during a particular turbulent emotional point (I would argue that West probably doesn’t have any true calm points), he did visit one.

“I went a few times,” West writes in his new autobiography, due out in a few months, “but I felt there was no way that any therapist could understand my particular torment and also felt in some respects they were sicker than I was.”

That is the essential Jerry right there.

That certainly is the Jerry West I know and covered and have experienced–brilliant, curious, brutally honest, fair, unhinged at times, decisive, reflective, moody, occasionally self-destructive but always and eternally a winner.

A manic-depressive, amazingly interesting winner, always a winner.

I’ve been around four or five people who seem to give the sports planet  its core and gravitational spin–Al Davis, Bill Walsh, Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds for a while and West.

Definitely West.

My career has been enriched by all the times I’ve spent talking to and writing about West, and my ears have been scorched more than once or twice (or 20 times) by West venting his frustrations and momentary accusations, often directly focused at me.

And while reading sections of an advance copy of West’s book–”West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life” (what a classic West title, by the way), co-written with Jonathan Coleman–two things struck me:

* It’s incredible how many (or ALL?) the seminal figures in NBA history that West has competed with, competed furiously against, acquired or advised, from Chamberlain to Red Auerbach to Pat Riley to Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan to David Stern to Kobe Bryant and everyone else.

There are compelling anecdotes and stories about of these guys in this book, by the way.

* And I wonder if Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who just brought West into the Warriors’ front office, understand the volcanic ups and downs that come with West–it sure will make things more interesting, and better, and more volcanic in there, that’s for sure.

West spends many pages describing his difficult childhood in West Virginia, his inner demons, and generally the emotional tumult that has accompanied him wherever he went, no matter how great the achievement.

This inner wiring frames everything, every relationship West has had in basketball, every thought and decision and deep moment of despair.

It’s fascinating–it’s like West taking Tony Soprano’s chair in Dr. Melfi’s office, and explaining every detail of the most famous career in NBA player-exec history (but with a moral barometer).

It’s like listening to Van Gogh talk about why he painted what he did, and why he pissed off who he did and which ones he regrets and which ones he doesn’t.

Another classic West anecdote, before I get into some hoops talk:

*  When he walked into a surprise party that his assistant had planned for him near the end of his time in Memphis, West says he just turned and walked out. Later, he offered to pay for the party, but he realizes his behavior ruined it and badly hurt his assistant’s feelings.

“It was not one of my prouder moments,” West writes in retrospect.

Pure Jerry.

There’s a phrase I’ve been seeing lately to describe someone uttering a public moment of self-deprecation that really is meant to show how cool he is. The term: Humble-brag.

With West, it’s the opposite. He’s mentioning the towering achievements to cut into the truer meaning of some of his admitted weaknesses and fragility.

I’ll call it bragging humility.

Some of the interesting bits, from my selecting reading…

– West and Phil Jackson clearly had a distant relationship from the moment the Lakers brought Jackson in to coach Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, and West confirms it all.

West says he was definitely troubled by Jackson’s relationship with Jeanie Buss and was put off by much of what Jackson was doing (Jackson’s first year was West’s last with the Lakers).

”So one of the problems I had with Phil was this,” West writes. “His office was right near mine and when he would arrive in the morning, he would walk right past and never even bother to wave or duck his head in to say hello.”

“He would later say that he felt the need to stake out his territory, that on top of that he was ’a wack job,’ but I am sure it was more than that.”

West compares Jackson’s attitude to Pat Riley’s reach for more power after winning titles as the Laker coach, but West suggests that Jackson’s display was a colder version to experience.

“Phil and I had no relationship,” West writes. “None. He didn’t want me around and had absolutely no respect for me–of that, I have no doubt.”

– West re-counts and confirms one of the long-rumored tension points–West says Jackson threw him out of the locker room after a game, personally (“Jerry, get the f– out, I’m not finished here yet,” West quotes Jackson as saying, though West adds that Jackson later said he didn’t know it was West.)
West said he quickly left the locker room and didn’t ever respond to Jackson’s action.

“I wasn’t going to lower myself and get into a p– contest with him,” West writes.

– West says his relationship with owner Jerry Buss was altered when the Lakers  moved out of the Forum in 1999 to Staples Center, and Buss was around less and less.

“The close nature of our relationship began to change, and not only did I feel more and more unappreciated, or under-appreciated, but my own personal demons, rooted in my childhood, were threatening me,” West writes.

“The Lakers had been home to me, unlike the home I had grown up and felt apart from. But now the home was feeling less and less hospitable, and I was sensing that I didn’t belong, or wasn’t wanted, there any more, that I had stayed too long at the fair and it was time for me to go.”

West coolly mentions that Buss did not attend the Lakers’ announcement of West’s resignation.

Of course, West didn’t attend it either, but that’s not his point.

West also prints the letter his wife sent to Buss in 1999 (unbeknowst to West at the time), during some particularly difficult emotional period for West, and notes that Buss did not respond to it.

- West also, of course, describes the tense relationship of Shaq and Kobe and all the time and energy West put into getting the two to work together for the good of the team and the chance to win titles.

“It pained me to see how much of a struggle it was for them me,” West writes, “how unwilling Kobe was to defer to Shaq in any way.”

– It’s all framed by West’s childhood, and… well, he describes it rivetingly throughout, including this summation…

“…(I was)  raised in a home, a series of them actually, that was spotless but where I never learned what love was, and am still not entirely sure I know today. What I do know is that I harbored murderous thoughts, and they, along with anger, sadness, and a weird sort of emptiness, are, in part, what drove and fueled and carried me a long way, traveling a path to the future that, even with the depth of my crazy imagination, I never had the self-confidence to allow myself to fully envision, not really.”

The flashpoint: West’s beloved older brother David was killed in the Korean War when West was 13.

“David’s death, I see now, truly resulted in the basketball court’s becoming my sanctuary and my refuge, the place where I felt most alive, where I was most in control. The sweet beauty of being by myself out there–a boy from deep inside West Virginia with a ball and barely concealed anger and a burning desire, a fierce longing for more than what I had.”

It’s very compelling stuff, at least from the 60% of the book that I read in the first two days after receiving it.  I’m sure I’m not mentioning some other vivid recollections–about Elgin Baylor or Bill Russell–but that’s OK.

If you a Warriors fan, a general NBA fan, or any kind of sports fan, I’d tell you to read this book when it comes out, to fully appreciate the totality of the legend and reality and to know that the reality at times exceeds the legend.

Tim Kawakami for 'Talking Points'

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West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

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Lakers fans will be left sulking if the NBA contract dispute doesn't get sorted, but to make up for it legendary Laker Jerry West is back in the spotlight.

Mr. Clutch, as he's known for his game-winning baskets at the buzzer, has just written a deeply affecting autobiography. The man who is literally the poster boy of the NBA – it's his silhouette in the red, white and blue logo – reveals how he overcame child abuse, debilitating shyness and wrestled with depression to sustain a forty-year career with the LA Lakers.

West divulges his personal demons: “I am the fifth of six children, raised in a home, a series of them actually, that was spotless but where I never learned what love was and am still not entirely sure I know today. What I do know is that I harbored murderous thoughts and they along with anger, sadness and a weird sort of emptiness, are in part what drove and fueled and carried me a long way, traveling a path to the future that, even with the depth of my crazy imagination, I never had the self-confidence to allow myself to fully envision, not really.”

West went on to become an Olympic Gold Medallist, an NBA All-Star, a two-time Hall of Famer and was named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history. How did he do it? "West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life" (co-authored by Jonathan Coleman) also talks about his complex relationships with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and more basketball stars.

Praises for:
West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

"... Anyone who follows basketball knows that Jerry West was a supreme athlete and a brilliant general manager. What I did not know until reading this powerful book was just how complex he is.

West by West is a rounded, honest and moving exploration not just of West's life under the arena spotlights, but his passages through his darkest hours.

With remarkable clarity and courage, West explores his flaws and ghosts, his glory on the court and his struggles off. Paralyzed and haunted by his childhood, this was a superstar who, at the top of his game, could not escape the feeling that he belonged at the bottom.

Few would have the courage to look so deeply into the mirror, but in this exceptional book, West has done so. ..."
Gay Talese, author of 'A Writer's Life'

"... His silhouette image has long been the NBA's logo-a fitting symbol for a revered, enigmatic, and deeply private sports icon.

But in this book, with unflinching candor and in remarkable detail, Jerry West emerges proudly and boldly from the shadows of his own life. ..."
James S. Hirsch, author of 'Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend'

"... Searing...Very compelling.... It's like West taking Tony Soprano's chair in Dr. Melfi's office and explaining every detail of the most famous career in NBA player-exec history.... Like listening to Van Gogh talk about why he painted what he did. ..."
Tim Kawakami, The San Jose Mercury News

  "... Jerry West did not need to do the difficult work in healing himself that he has done in this book.....

This is nothing short of amazing courage."
Anne Phillips, Huffington Post

"... Who wouldn't want to be Jerry West? Well, maybe Jerry West, for one.

Hardcore fans will relish West's reflections on the game that has obsessed him, stories about teammates and opposing players, and his selections for an all-time Dream Game....

In a genre notorious for merely waving pompoms, West offers an unusually candid account of his personal and professional life."
  Kirkus ReviewsKirkus Reviews

"... If West's star is among the brightest in the NBA firmament, the dark side of his success, told with startling candor, is almost too painful to learn.

But fans of the game will want to understand what made Jerry West run. ..."
  Alan Moores ~ Booklist

"... You don't need to be a basketball fan to enjoy this wonderfully honest memoir from Jerry West with his co-author Jonathan Coleman. If you are a basketball fan, then this book is a must have and it doesn't matter which team you follow.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area during West's tenure with the LA Lakers, you couldn't avoid cheering for the team, so this book with inside look at the Lakers is just wonderful. West really pulls the covers off of his own life and opens up about the abuse he suffered as a child and the depression that stayed with him through out his life.

There are parts in the book that are truly wrenching. I can understand why his family didn't want much of this story printed since it probably opened up a lot of wounds.   ..."

"... One of the greatest basketball players of all time tells—with relentless honesty—the incredible story of his life.

He is one of basketball’s towering figures: “Mr. Clutch,” who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers’ resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring “Showtime” to Los Angeles, creating a championship winning force that continues to this day.

Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story—from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.

Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, West by West is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profound confession and a magnificent inspiration.
  Michelle Aielli ~ Little, Brown and Company

"... He is one of basketball's towering figures: "Mr. Clutch," who mesmerized his opponents and fans. The coach who began the Lakers' resurgence in the 1970s. The general manager who helped bring "Showtime" to Los Angeles, creating a championship-winning force that continues to this day. Now, for the first time, the legendary Jerry West tells his story-from his tough childhood in West Virginia, to his unbelievable college success at West Virginia University, his 40-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his relationships with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant.

Unsparing in its self-assessment and honesty, WEST BY WEST is far more than a sports memoir: it is a profoundconfession and a magnificent inspiration"
  Little, Brown and Company

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

Book Excerpt:

"... I was born on May 28, 1938, in Cheylan, West Virginia, right next to Cabin Creek—two hollows (Burgs, I called them) nestled in the Upper Kanawha Valley, fourteen miles from Charleston, well-defended fortress against the world…I am fifth of six children, raised in a home, a series of them actually, that was spotless but where I never learned what love was and am still not entirely sure I know today.

What I do know is that I harbored murderous thoughts, and they, along with anger, sadness, and a weird sort of emptiness, are in part what drove and fueled and carried me a long way, traveling a path to the future that, even with the depth of my crazy imagination, I never had the self-confidence to allow myself to fully envision, not really. ..."

About the Authors: Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman
Jerry Alan West (born May 28, 1938) is a retired American basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His nicknames include "Mr. Clutch," for his ability to make a big play in a clutch situation, such as his famous buzzer-beating 60-foot shot that tied Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks; "The Logo," in reference to his silhouette being incorporated into the NBA logo; and "Zeke from Cabin Creek," after the creek near his birthplace of Chelyan, West Virginia.

Playing the small forward position early in his career, West was a standout at East Bank High School and at West Virginia University, leading the WVU Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game, earning Most Valuable Player honors despite the loss. He then embarked on a 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was the co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team in Rome, a squad that would be inducted as a unit into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

West’s NBA career was highly successful. Playing the guard position as a professional, he was voted 12 times into the All-NBA First and Second Teams, was elected into the NBA All-Star Team 14 times, and was chosen as the All-Star MVP in 1972, the same year that he won the only title of his career. West holds the NBA record for the highest points per game average in a playoff series with 46.3.

He was also a member of the first four NBA All-Defensive Teams, which were introduced when he was 32 years old. Having played in nine NBA Finals, he is also the only player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP despite being on the losing team (1969). West was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.

After his playing career, West was head coach of the Lakers for three years, leading Los Angeles into the playoffs each year and earning a Western Conference Finals berth once. Working as a player-scout for three years, West was named General Manager of the Lakers prior to the 1982–83 NBA season. Under his reign, Los Angeles won seven championship rings.

  In 2002, West became General Manager of the Memphis Grizzlies and helped the franchise win their first-ever playoff berths. For his contributions, West won the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice, once as a Lakers manager (1995) and then as a Grizzlies manager (2004). West's son, Jonnie, played college basketball for the West Virginia Mountaineers team.

He is the author of the following books, among others:

Mr. Clutch: The Jerry West Story

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

And about Jerry West:

Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon

Jonathan Coleman is the bestselling author of      At Mother's Request,      Exit the Rainmaker, and Long Way to Go.

Jonathan Coleman's newest book (which the writer Gay Talese has already praised, well before publication, as "exceptional" and "powerful") is a collaboration with the legendary Jerry West, the silhouetted figure of the NBA logo: WEST BY WEST: My Charmed, Tormented Life, published by Little, Brown in October 2011. (In addition, he narrates documentaries--for which he has won two awards--and audio books, and does voiceovers for commercials.)

His previous book,   Long Way to Go: Black and White in America, has been called "a classic" (Morris Dees, Southern Poverty Law Center), "history and journalism at its best" ( Andrew Hacker, author of 'Two Nations : Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal') and received front-page reviews in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post Book World, and the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Mr. Coleman traveled to 20 cities in the fall of 1997, taking part in symposiums that centered around the book and the subject of race, and he served as an adviser to President Clinton's Initiative on Race as well as an adviser on racial unity to Bill Bradley's presidential campaign.

Mr. Coleman was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1973.

The following year, he worked in London for The New Review, a literary magazine. From 1975 to 1981, he worked in book publishing, first at Alfred A. Knopf and later as a senior editor and member of the editorial board of Simon and Schuster. Among the books he edited were Peter Taylor's In the Miro District and Other Stories (Voices of the South), Robert Lindsey's The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage, Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel, Don Imus's God's Other Son, David S. Broder's Changing of the Guard, Elizabeth Drew's SENATOR, William S. Cohen's Roll Call: One Year in the United States Senate, Jonathan Raban's Old Glory : A Voyage Down the Mississippi, Shiva Naipaul's North of South: An African Journey and Journey to Nowhere: A New World Tragedy, Fred Kaplan's The Wizards of Armageddon, Richard Norton Smith's Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, and Donald Johanson's Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. In 1980, in a piece about publishing, he was profiled in Time magazine as one of the best editors in the field.

From 1981 to 1983, he worked at CBS News as a producer and a correspondent, and where he initially began to investigate the story that led to his first book, At Mother's Request. Published in 1985, it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and made the New York Times bestseller list in both hardcover and paperback. Favorably compared by the critics to such books as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, it was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. (All of Coleman's research related to At Mother's Request is with the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.) In 1987, a miniseries based on his book aired on CBS, and he made a cameo appearance.

In the fall of 1989, his second work of nonfiction, Exit the Rainmaker, was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was praised by Time ("Striking"), The New York Times Book Review ("Fascinating") and The Los Angeles Times Book Review ("A fascinating symbolic statement of the American psyche"). In addition, he wrote a profile of Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial, for Time. In 1990, when Exit the Rainmaker was published in paperback, it became a New York Times bestseller.

In 1991, Coleman wrote a piece on Little League that was subsequently cited for Special Mention in Best American Sports Writing 1992. Over the years his articles have covered a variety of subjects: the world's largest Polaroid camera; the water towers of Manhattan; the mysterious drowning of three black teenagers in Texas on Juneteenth; the way in which technology has made us "intimate strangers"; a small parking problem that John Grisham made a big deal over; profiles of Don Imus, Jeff Sonnenfeld (which answers, among other things, the question of whether he vandalized the brand-new business building at Emory in retaliation for not being offered the deanship), and the U.S. Women's National soccer team.

Mr. Coleman is a member of PEN and is included in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education, and Contemporary Authors. He has written for the New York Times (both the Magazine and Book Review), Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post (both Style and Book World), the Chicago Tribune, the Texas Observer, among other publications. He taught creative nonfiction writing at the University of Virginia from 1986 to 1993, and has lectured at a number of other universities as well as at Chautauqua, the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta, the Milwaukee Public Library, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, Writers at Work, the Miami Book Fair, the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and Semester at Sea. Over the course of his career, he has been interviewed on most of the major television and radio shows, including Today, Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Vanished, 48 Hours, All Things Considered, Inside Edition, Court TV's Power, Privilege and Justice, and has been profiled in nearly every major newspaper.

Mr. Coleman lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is currently finishing a book about Angus Cameron, the renowned book editor (and "true Renaissance man") who was blacklisted in the 1950s, a book that draws on their relationship of more than twenty-five years: What He Stood For: The Many Worlds of Angus Cameron.

He is the author of the following books, among others:

At Mother's Request: A True Story of Money, Murder and Betrayal

Long Way to Go: Black and White in America

Exit the Rainmaker

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

Click here to check ALL the BOOKS & eBOOKS by ( or about )
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• Authors: Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman
• Format:  eBook & book
• Book Edition Number of Pages: 352 pages ~ 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
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• Book Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
• Book Publishing Date: NEW on October 19, 2011
• eBook Publisher: Hachette Book Group
• eBook Publishing Date: NEW on October 19, 2011
• Book Edition Binding: Hardcover
• Book Edition Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
• Language: English

• Also available: In the   classic hardcover edition

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Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger
Sole Influence:
Basketball, Corporate Greed,
and the Corruption of America's Youth
By Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

Explosive and controversial, this expos uncovers the exploitation of college, high school, and even junior high basketball players by the billion-dollar atheltic shoe companies competing for national endorsements. photo insert.

One hot basketball player. One cool new sneaker. For a company like Nike, the combination can equal millions of dollars in profits.
That's why the shoe companies are engaged in a frantic full-court press to find and sign the next generation of hoop stars-before the competition does.

The result: America's playgrounds, high schools, and junior high schools have become corporate battlegrounds for the hearts, minds, and feet of young athletes.

This shocking expose shows how money is driving the amateur basketball world, even attempting to control coaches, teams, and whole universities -- and how young men and women with a little talent and a dream are being tempted to sacrifice their future for glittering promises and a new pair of shoes.

A private war is being waged on city playgrounds and in high school gyms in the never-ending search for the next big player -- and the potential millions in sales that player could bring to the major athletic shoe companies by endorsing their products.

Far from the glamour of the NBA or the NCAA Final Four, the sport has changed into a high-stakes war of greed and includes such tactics as expensive gifts, pampered perks, grade fixing, standardized-test fraud, and kickback recruitments. For every legitimate spokesman like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant (the respective endorsers for Nike and adidas) there are dozens of teenage kids all over America who are lavished with brand new sneakers, expensive clothes, new athletic gear, or free trips (parents included) in an attempt to gain their athletic shoe brand loyalty. And that's just where this sordid story begins.

... Buy SAFELY  Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger  ONLY at ...

Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

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On city playgrounds and in high-school gymnasiums, the search goes on for the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant - potential superstars who can bring millions in sales to the athletic shoe companies they endorse. Now an explosive and controversial expos6 at last reveals the ongoing exploitation of college, high-school, and even junior-high-school players by profit-minded sneaker companies ...

Thirty years ago pro basketball players wore modest-looking canvas high-tops. Today, sneakers are a billion-dollar worldwide business, with companies constantly developing flashy new designs, new looks, and new multi-million-dollar ad campaigns. Why? Because one hot shoe - worn by a popular pro basketball player - can become a license to print money. And because the potential payoff is so big, these companies scour the country for the basketball stars of tomorrow, handing out free footwear, free sports gear, and the lure of six-figure contracts - just to wear a certain brand of shoe. Some young players choose brand loyalty by the time they are fourteen, as sneaker companies not only try to secure the allegiance of players, but also attempt to control coaches, teams, even whole universities.

Written by two of the most knowledgeable journalists in sports, Sole Influence takes you into this battle for the hearts, minds, and feet of young athletes-at any price. Along the way, it shows how criminals, including drug dealers and sex offenders, have ended up on a shoe company's payroll. More frightening, this book reveals how corporate money funneled into amateur sports has created black-market professionalism among college and high-school athletes, with promises of fame and fortune that for most players will simply never come true.

Hard-hitting, thoroughly researched, and deeply troubling, Sole Influence sounds an important alarm to a society that for too long has ignored the dark business behind amateur sports-and what it does to the young people who play them.

Dan Wetzel is the managing editor of Basketball Times. In each of the past four years, he has received national investigative reporting awards from the United States Basketball Writers Association. Don Yaeger is a writer and associate editor for Sports Illustrated. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Under the Tarnished Dome and the critically acclaimed Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL.

Praises for 'Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth'

"... This book examines a particularly seedy side of contemporary sports: the devious, distorted, duplicitous multibillion dollar search for the next Michael Jordan. That is, not for the next great basketball player but for the supreme corporate pitchman for the new millennium. According to Wetzel (managing editor, Basketball Times) and Yeager (a staff writer at Sports Illustrated), the principal players in this debased drama are Nike, Adidas, NCAA athletics, prep schools, summer basketball camps, and AAU teams and tournaments.

Strikingly, all these influences are coming in contact with younger and younger kids, dipping down to the junior high school ages of 12 and 13. When these kids go to choose a college, a contributing factor is whether that institution's shoe endorsement contract matches their own. The story is very convincingly laid out and makes the ironic point that the phenomenon of Mr. Jordan so changed the landscape that there probably never will be another player with the same drive and relative innocence who so appeals to such a wide demographic. Highly recommended for all libraries. ..."
John M. Maxymuk, Robeson Lib., Rutgers Univ., Camden, NJ

"... Details a war waged by two multinational sneaker companies and profiles the two men who serve as field marshals for each side.... A sobering read for anyone who cares about the future of basketball. ..."
Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated

"... For all its clever advertising campaigns, the real story of the sneaker industry is one of influence peddling and the unholy, unscrupulous recruitment of children. This is that story, in excruciating detail. ..."
Phil Mushnick, New York Post and TV Guide

"... For those who care about the game, SOLE INFLUENCE sends a most disturbing message. Read it and weep. But read it. The nasty Vaccaro-Raveling rivalry and the story of Nike pitchman Myron Piggie are alone worth the price of admission to college basketball's house of horrors. ..."
Armen Keteyian, CBS and HBO Sports

"... We always knew something stunk about basketball and the sneaker business, and SOLE INFLUENCE lets us know where the stench is coming from.... A most revealing and insightful book. ..."
Jackie MacMullan, Sports Illustrated

"... While there may not be all that many recruiting books published, I think one thing that I can do is provide reviews for the ones that I have read. This book,   Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth, takes a look at the problems with AAU and youth basketball. Obviously the first person that I would recommend this book to is basketball fans who enjoy learning more about the shady side of the recruiting process.

The authors, Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger, do a nice job of showing how ugly things can get. These are the stories that people hear about the dark side of recruiting and it is pretty obvious that it is there. The authors laid a lot of the blame on the shoe companies. Here is more of a breakdown of other parts of the book.

A Walk through Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth:

Unlike Mike The very first talks in depth about Kobe Bryant, who was recently named NBA MVP this season. But this was about his time when he was going into the NBA Draft and had Nike and adidas trying hard to sign him. The reason that these shoe companies were showing him so much interest is that they are always trying hard to find the next Michael Jordan. Their grass root programs that work with AAU teams want to have the top players in their gear and the companies are willing to sponsor these teams because of that.

Shoes to Fill When Reebok signed Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 to a shoe contract, they thought it was the second coming of Michael Jordan. The only problem is that no one aspires to be a center. It is guards who are skilled, can dunk, and shoot the ball. They set the trend and Reebok did not renew their contract with O’Neal after it expired a few years later. This chapter also touched on the history of Nike and how Phil Knight grew his company over time.

Sonny and George A big part of the blame for the AAU mess that we currently have is because of George Raveling and Sonny Vaccaro. While they were best friends in the 80s, they are not bitter rivals who do not speak with one another. They currently work in the same position but Raveling is at Nike and Vaccaro is at adidas. The reason their relationship seemed to turn sour was over a recruit that did not go to USC with Raveling and instead won a national title at UCLA.

This Little Piggie Went to Nike If you are looking for a bad AAU story, their talk of Myron Piggie is it. This AAU coach was arrested for selling cocaine and shooting at a police officer. Piggie downplayed the entire incident but did admit to having drug problems. But the whole story that actually happened, according to court records, is a lot worse than he made it out to be. Piggie was the coach of one of the top AAU teams in Kansas City after this time. What this chapter stresses is that lack of background checks by AAU basketball and Nike, who was paying to sponsor his team.

Romancing the Stone People expect to see the ugly AAU stories in big cities. But that is not always the case. It even affected Huntsville, Alabama where Marvin Stone played. This 6-foot-10 bigman was skilled and played for multiple AAU teams during his time. He ended up getting bought out before signing with Kentucky. It is not much of a surprise that he never ended up doing much professionally because he was handed everything as a kid.

Red, White, and Swoosh Nike was able to put together the Nike Hoops Summit and it created about as many problems as possible. They were sued from stealing the idea from someone else and picking only Nike players. Many of the people involved, who have an affiliation to Nike, are TV personalities like Billy Packer. Do you think he has a bias when he is on television towards Nike? It is definitely something to think about.

Wesley Wilson Prep school battles happen more than you would think and this was the case with Wilson. He skipped summer courses in order to go play on the AAU circuit when he needed them to quality after high school. But because he played well on the AAU circuit in early spring, Wilson ended up not being able to go to a prep school that wore adidas. They were not sponsored by them, just wore their shoes. He ended up going to a prep school that had a Nike affiliation. This was not a coincidence either.

Mt. Zion Steve Smith (Head coach at Mt. Zion) and Alvis Smith were the ones who were able to find Tracy McGrady and help him leave for the NBA draft after high school. But the writers talk more about stories where Mt. Zion traps outstanding basketball players to not be able to leave their program. Some were able to get and others not so much. If these stories are true, this program is as dirty as it comes. But then again, they don’t have any rules for prep schools.

Be Like ‘Mique I will be honest in that I am not sure I believe this chapter much, especially now, but it discussed the importance of Chamique Holdsclaw. This former Tennessee basketball player was a trend setter when it comes to women’s basketball and some felt she would be the female version of Michael Jordan. Again, I don’t think it ended that way.

Recruiting Rush This was one of my favorite chapters as it followed the recruiting of Jaron Rush. He had committed to Kansas but decided that he would sign in the spring because his mother would not sign the Letter of Intent. Because a booster had taken him in almost as a son, the NCAA basically said that Rush could not sign with the Jayhawks. He ended up signing with UCLA, left too early in his college career, and has traveled far and wide playing professional ball. A very interesting note about this is that his youngest brother, Brandon, played an important role in their national championship this season.

“Buy Your Own Goddamn Shoes” Elvert Perry is an AAU coach and seems to be one of the ones that are honest. Jim Delany runs the Big 10 conference. Delaney feels that something must be done about the mess that is involved with the AAU circuit. Perry blames Delany and coaches for signing contracts with shoe companies. He feels that a big part of the problem is because of that.

The Summer Season The writers follow around D.C. Assault, one of the top AAU teams in the country. This is an interesting look at their coach, their players, and the type of game that they play. It should not come as a huge surprise but many of their top players come from single parent families and some even live with their grandparents. Lot a lot of AAU coaches, their head coach, Curtis Malone, wants to be a college coach someday.

The Best Billboards Money can Buy Instead of buying billboards at high schools, shoe companies will pay schools to wear their jerseys. The reason that they do this is if fans see them wearing Nike or adidas, they may be more prone to purchasing them. There is an interesting story about Miami Senior High and how they cheated to win State titles. The head coach that got fired, Frank Martin, is the head coach at Kansas State.

Free Speech For Sale Going back to college, many of the shoe companies have contracts that colleges sign in order to put their brand on all of their athletes. But a portion of the contract has a clause that says all employees and students of the university can not say any negative remarks about their product. I guess they are not worried about freedom of speech.

Standing Tall Marcus Taylor is the focus in this chapter. For those that remember him, he was an outstanding point guard from Michigan who turned down the opportunity to play AAU basketball in order to work out on his own. Few players make this same decision. The bad news for Taylor is that he went to Michigan State, left after his freshman year for the NBA, and has not been heard from since. Taylor actually is playing in the NBA D League and hopes to get a shot at the big level.

Taking Responsibility for This Mess So who is responsible for this mess? Is it the shoe companies? AAU coaches? College coaches? It sounds like the shoe companies are taking some of the blame but they don’t plan to stop their grass roots program until the other does. And that basically will not be happening anytime soon. It just seems to get worse.

Overall I thought this was a very interesting book. If you are interested in basketball and recruiting, it is worth reading. I normally take a while to finish books and I plowed through this is about three days. What made this book interesting is the fact that it was published in 2000, which means the players that they talked about have either gone on to standout or have fallen off the map. Many of the spoiled players they talked about did not end up doing well. ..."

"...I've suspected for decades that the college recruiting process was (is), to a certain extent, corrupt.

To even the casual observer of college basketball, at the upper echelon of Division I, there is (has been) an uneven playing field. It's as if some colleges have had the top five picks in the annual draft for several years in a row.

On the surface the uneven playing field seems impossible to explain, but books like "Sole Influence" begin to shed light of the corruption that mars college basketball -- the search for the next Michael Jordan.

In a series of anecdotes, the authors provide case studies of how, especially, Nike and Addidas have made a mess of AAU basketball, especially in large urban centers.

It's difficult, almost impossible, to get first hand information, especially from big-name college coaches -- few go on the record. What "Sole Influence" reveals, seems to me, is the tip of the iceberg.

The most shocking revelations surround the role played by George Raveling, the former head coach at Washington State, Iowa and USC. Thankfully, Raveling made himself available to the authors and provides candid comments which, while attempting to rationalize his role in this sorry mess, tend to indict him as one of the prime offenders.

The book, although poorly edited, contains much food for thought and is worthy of reading and reflection by serious college basketball fans.

The authors include a good index, but omit footnotes and a bibliography of sources. Also, a complete list of names of persons interviewed for the book would have been appreciated. To the layman, many of these "characters" are complete strangers.

The authors have included capsule introductions to the book's key "characters," which are especially helpful for those of us unfamiliar with the shoe company corruption of AAU basketball.

I agree with those who've commented about the book's excessive repetition, as the authors do a thorough job of indicting the shoe companies.

The authors do provide some implied remedies for the problems they've documented. Whether these recommendations are feasible, given the hunger for dollars, is questionable and discouraging.

Again, this title is recommended for college basketball fans who care about the integrity of the game. The book makes me wonder to what extent college basketball has integrity. ..."
Charles W. Adams, Adel ~ Iowa USA

Chapter One

Unlike Mike

His hair perfect, smile polished, and wardrobe impeccable, Kobe Bryant sprang to his feet with the enthusiasm of the eighteen-year-old kid he was. His name had just been called by National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern as the thirteenth pick of the 1996 draft. The Charlotte Hornets had selected the precocious recent graduate of Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia, who just weeks before had taken recording sensation Brandy Norwood to his prom. Now it was time to celebrate in the recesses of New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena. Bryant quickly hugged his father, former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. Then his mother, Pam, and other assorted family and friends.

With TNT television cameras rolling live, he stepped over and embraced a middle-aged white man named Sonny Vaccaro. It would prove to be a momentous hug, one ignored by the commentators, the fans, and the media assembled to cover the draft that night. The hug, though, wasn't missed by executives at Nike and adidas, shoe companies sitting just miles apart in Beaverton, Oregon. In so many ways, it was a hug that changed the way the business of basketball is conducted in this country.

Vaccaro is the legendary basketball character and marketing guru who during the 1980s and early 1990s helped make Nike synonymous with the game. Now working for adidas after a bitter 1992 breakup with his former employer, Vaccaro needed to deliver a special kind of endorser to his new company, the kind who could establish adidas—a German-based corporation that was big in worldwide soccer but had become anonfactor in hoops—as a player in the lucrative basketball market.

Just as in 1984 when he delivered Michael Jordan, then merely a promising shooting guard from the University of North Carolina, to Nike despite concerns from his superiors and competitors alike. That marriage didn't just make Nike—then a company that was popular in track and field circles but, like adidas in 1996, a sideline player in basketball—competitive with basketball industry leader Converse, it changed nearly everything in sports.

"The marriage of Michael and Nike is the biggest story in the history of sports marketing," says Vaccaro now. "[If it hadn't happened] everyone's lives would have changed. Nike would never have been Nike. I certainly wouldn't have been this person. And maybe Michael's persona and his marketing thing might have taken longer. It was a threefold thing there. Everyone benefited."

And so as Vaccaro and his young star hugged on national television that night in 1996, the similarities were endless: two young and somewhat unproven players—Bryant nothing but a high school kid, Jordan an early defector from college who went third in the draft; two companies both desperately turning to Vaccaro to get them a share of the multibillion-dollar basketball market. Vaccaro, though wiser in 1996, was still the consummate insider, armed with his famed guile, street savvy, and a generation of contacts throughout the game. He was still a gambler years after he bottomed out as a card player in Las Vegas.

Thus it came as no surprise that within weeks, Bryant had signed an exclusive five-year, multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with shoe and apparel manufacturer adidas, the company that employs Vaccaro to run its grassroots basketball operations. Bryant chose adidas after hearing Nike's pitch, but not spending a great deal of time deliberating over the particulars. Vaccaro's loyalty to and history with Bryant was enough.

It was Vaccaro who had allowed Bryant to shine on the national stage the previous two summers at his adidas ABCD talent camp, invited him and his parents to his postseason all-star game in Detroit, Magic's Roundball Classic, where Bryant was named MVP, and sponsored his traveling basketball squads for two years. It was Vaccaro who had known his father since 1972, when Joe was the MVP of the Vaccaro-run Dapper Dan All-Star Game, the forerunner to Magic's Roundball Classic. It was Vaccaro who had known Kobe's uncle, Chuckie Cox, the brother of Kobe's mother, Pam, since Cox also played in the 1974 Dapper Dan.

"I knew this family," Vaccaro says. "They knew me. Ever so slightly, but they did. So when we got down to the personal stuff, I was way ahead of the game."

The only difference in how Vaccaro signed Jordan and how he signed Bryant or other young stars such as Tracy McGrady, Antoine Walker, or Tim Thomas is how much more work it took to get it done in 1996. As much as the game of basketball has changed in the twelve years since Jordan invited the world to come fly with him, the game of identifying and signing pitchmen has changed even more.

This is fact: Jordan brought Nike to inconceivable levels of popularity and worldwide dominance. This too is fact: The battle to find similarly effective stars to endorse products—to find "The Next Jordan"—has intensified with frightening seriousness. Where once a player, after being drafted or even a few years into his career, reviewed some solid business presentations before choosing a potential endorsement, now a young player can be slotted for a shoe company—particularly either Nike or adidas—as young as twelve years old.

Vaccaro knows if he tried to sign a Kobe Bryant the same way he tried to sign Michael Jordan . . .

"Impossible," he says. "Impossible. Can't happen now. You have to identify them early, you got to talk to all the necessary people. There's got to be a foundation. You have to identify him and say who you want. And you have to have a relationship. You don't go in cold on anybody today."

Which has left basketball in the middle of a major war for the hearts and soles of its young players. Because just as Vaccaro and Bryant's hug flashed back to Beaverton and the headquarters of Nike, the war for allegiances of the nation's young players was officially underway. Nike knew that Vaccaro had found a way to beat the well-heeled industry giant at its own game. By getting in early with young players, he proved loyalty could outmuscle money.

Four months later Nike CEO Phil Knight summoned twenty coaches of Nike-sponsored traveling basketball programs—generally regional all-star teams that play in tournaments around the country during the off-season—to Nike's headquarters to map out a battle plan. On Saturday, October 19, 1996, with thirty or so people sitting in one of the company's posh conference rooms with stadium-style seating, across the stage strolled Knight—decked out in blue jeans, T-shirt, light-colored sport coat, and a pair of Nike running shoes—who told them in no uncertain terms that this was a fight Nike had to win.

"We never want another kid to go pro out of high school again without Nike being involved," Knight said, according to Tom Floco, a Nike summer coach from Philadelphia, and a half dozen other people present that day. Knight, through a spokeswoman, denied having made the statement, but Floco and others were crystal-clear. "There was no doubt what he said and what he meant," Floco said.

When Knight's quote was printed a week later in the Chicago Sun-Times, a chill ran through high school basketball coaches from coast to coast. It was suddenly apparent that if one of the most recognizable and powerful CEOs in America was stating that high school sports was now an important battlefield for business, the future of the game played in every community in America was up for grabs.

Knight's monumental statement, coupled with a broad-based and heavily financed campaign to identify young prospects and feed them into Nike's grassroots basketball program and compete with adidas' similar grassroots system, brought big money, big egos, and hypercompetitive recruiting to the high school and junior high level.

Nike repeated its message to its grassroots coaches scattered around the country over the next year, in teleconferences and letters: Establish relationships early and steer players to the company. All this so a certain company can have the inside track on landing the mythical next Michael Jordan, a player who would not only be considered among the game's greatest talents, but become indisputablythe most powerful and effective endorser of products in American history.

The first company to find that next Jordan would, if Jordan's success was a yardstick, be set for the next decade. By setting an unbelievable standard—at his peak Jordan's annual endorsements earned him $16 million from Nike, $5 million from Gatorade, $5 million from Bijan Cologne, $4 million from MCI, $2 million from Ray-O-vac, $2 million from Hanes, $2 million from Ball Park Franks, $2 million from Wheaties, $2 million from Wilson, $2 million from Oakley, $1 million from AMF Bowling, $1 million from CBS Sportsline, and $1 million from Chicagoland Chevrolet—the greatest endorser of all time made the business of hawking products more lucrative than playing the game.

The irony is how easy it was for Nike to sign the original.

It was the summer of 1984 and Vaccaro was waiting at a Tony Roma's restaurant in Santa Monica, California, for his then best friend George Raveling, the head coach of the University of Iowa and an assistant on the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team, to bring Michael Jordan to lunch. Vaccaro was a marketing guy for Nike, charged with the concept of getting the company involved in the world of basketball.

At the time Converse, whose stable of endorsers included Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, and others, was the industry leader. But Nike had decided that what would truly work is developing a signature shoe for an athlete. By creating for a player his very own shoe, named and marketed just for him, Nike was hoping that said player's popularity would spur sales. Vaccaro liked the concept of the signature, just as he had liked the concept of signing college basketball coaches to exclusive endorsement contracts and assuring that the nation's top collegians—all amateur athletes prohibited from signing individual endorsement deals—would have his brand-name shoe on their feet.

Converse had almost all of the NBA's top talent locked up, but, Vaccaro figured, wasn't using them as effective pitchmen. In Converse's most popular television commercial, a series of NBA stars, including Johnson, Thomas, and Bird, passed a Converse shoe to each other. Vaccaro wanted to eliminate the clutter and instead focus on one player, with one niche and one message. He needed someone who had the kind of game that everyone could relate to, regardless of what NBA team the player played for.

Big men, including 1984's top two draft picks, the University of Houston's Akeem [later Hakeem] Olajuwon and the University of Kentucky's Sam Bowie, were out because few street players or young kids envisioned themselves as centers. Vaccaro wanted a guard or a small forward. Someone who could shoot from outside, handle the ball, and make the kind of athletic plays—particularly dunks—that were causing the NBA's popularity to surge. He thought he wanted Michael Jordan.

Now he had to meet him. Vaccaro knew almost everyone in basketball but it was easy to see how Jordan eluded him. Vaccaro had run summer instructional camps and his Dapper Dan all-star game in Pittsburgh since the early 1970s and thus met most of the nation's top young talent—both players and coaches. But Jordan had taken a different route to the brink of superstardom. Cut from his high school varsity team as a sophomore at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, Jordan was hardly a can't-miss prospect.

Instead he became a self-made player, using the disappointment of being cut to rededicate himself to the game. As a junior he made the team and as a senior became a schoolboy star good enough to attract the attention of Dean Smith, the head basketball coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, an hour-and-a-half drive up the road in Chapel Hill. Smith offered a scholarship, Jordan accepted, and although he went on to an all-state season as a senior, he finished second in the voting for North Carolina Mr. Basketball to future UNC teammate Buzz Peterson.

Regarded as only the second-best player in his own state, Jordan was never invited to the Dapper Dan.

But when, as a freshman, he hit the game-winning jump shot to lead the Tar Heels over the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1982 NCAA Championship Game, Vaccaro couldn't help but notice the thin 6-6 guard. He left college two years later, as the consensus national player of the year in college basketball. And Vaccaro was determined to get to know the young phenom.

"I never had anything to do with Michael," Vaccaro recalls. "He never went to a camp, he never played in the Dapper Dan. My first identity with him—obviously I knew who he was when he started playing college basketball—was when he beat Georgetown in the game in '82. But there was never any personal contact there.

"But the game plan was set in motion from Nike's standpoint in November of 1983 when we were identifying the college players and then solidifying them in January or February of '84. We knew Michael could come out and that was the year of [Charles] Barkley and Olajuwon. That was a pretty good class." It was a class that would go on to win the 1984 Olympic gold medal—although Barkley was cut by U.S. and Indiana University coach Bob Knight and Olajuwon was then a Nigerian citizen (he later became a U.S. citizen and played on the 1996 U.S. National Team)—which was why Jordan was in Southern California. He was practicing for the Olympic team, after being selected number three overall by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA's amateur draft. And on this off-afternoon, he agreed to meet Vaccaro at Tony Roma's.

Vaccaro, Jordan, and Raveling had lunch and talked hoops. Through college Jordan had worn Converse at North Carolina because of the company's endorsement deal with Tar Heel coach Dean Smith. Off the court, Vaccaro says, Jordan wore adidas.

"Michael had never seen nor ever played in a Nike shoe until then," Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro touched lightly on Nike's ideas and they agreed to another meeting just before the Olympics with Jordan, his agent, David Falk, Vaccaro, and Nike executive Rob Strausser. That time they met at the exclusive L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Strausser was one of the creative geniuses behind Nike until he left the company in 1988; he later ran adidas America until his death in 1997. He and Vaccaro laid out the plan for the signature shoe—the Air Jordan, a phrase Falk and Strausser coined. Jordan and Falk were intrigued and although Converse was signing most of the game's top talents Jordan seemed uninterested in endorsing the company.

"We presented a plan to him," Vaccaro said. "It was a detailed plan. The whole plan was how we were going to market Air Jordan, how we were going to make it different."

Jordan was interested enough about Nike to come to Portland, Oregon, in the fall with his parents to learn more about the Air Jordan. There the Jordans were given a tour of the city, wined and dined, and showed repeatedly that Nike considered the Air Jordan to be the highest of priorities.

"It was very formal," Vaccaro said of the meetings. "It was a recruiting trip because I think signing him had a lot to do with what we said we were going to do and the relationship I established with him early. He felt comfortable once he came to Oregon." Although, Vaccaro admits, there really wasn't much to show the Jordans. Phil Knight's company was nowhere near the corporate giant it is now, so he couldn't offer much of a tour.

"There was no plant," Vaccaro said. "There was no NikeTown. There was no Nike campus. We were in cubbyholes, a bunch of cubbyholes in leased office space. We didn't have a building. Michael built the Nike buildings." Although Michael sat in on every presentation, it was his parents who did most of the talking, Vaccaro said. "I think they were more in tune with what we were trying to do than even Michael," Vaccaro said. "I think Falk had a lot to do with convincing them this was a landmark thing. I think David did a good job preparing him and getting him ready for this thing."

At one meeting the Jordans were shown the Air Jordan logo—then a pair of wings similar to the kind airline pilots wear. They were also shown a prototype of the Air Jordan shoe. "He was excited about havinghis shoe, but it wasn't like we had this prototype thing that was the most innovative shoe in the world," Vaccaro said. "In fact, the first Air Jordan was pathetic."

It didn't matter. Jordan was interested and Nike was more interested than adidas, which was the only other company to make a bid for his services. Vaccaro had convinced Nike officials, including Phil Knight, that Jordan was the complete package: a fundamentally sound player with the kind of breathtaking athleticism that would appeal to all players.

His game was street enough to be legit on city playgrounds, yet his personality and speaking ability were polished enough to work in suburban living rooms. In a league that is predominately black but plays to a majority white fan base, he was perfect. He was a gamble, but it was one Vaccaro was willing to take.

Others at Nike weren't so sure. There was a movement to sign Olajuwon or Barkley, a powerful forward from Auburn University. Other players were also mentioned. Vaccaro was so convinced he had the right guy that when Nike executive Howard Schulser asked him if he was willing to bet his job on Jordan, Vaccaro never hesitated.

"I said, 'Yeah.' "


"Because I wasn't making a lot of money anyway. What difference did it make?" So Nike laid out its plan: a signature shoe, with the athlete sharing in

the profits. Adidas offered $500,000 according to Vaccaro. Nike countered with $250,000 and a percentage of the shoe revenues. Falk wanted a half million guarantee and the percentages. Nike came back with the $500,000 but a smaller cut. They had a deal.

"David Falk elected to take more guaranteed money and less revenue percentage," said Vaccaro. "So out of the chute he lost himself a lot of money. But in retrospect, it really amounted to nothing. It wasn't a big-time bidding war. Probably the most determining thing was adidas wasn't going to offer him a lot of money. It was the first time that the athlete was going to share in the royalties of the shoe. That was the gamble."

To say it paid off wouldn't begin to describe it. In 1985, with total sales slumping at around $900 million and Reebok surging to become the industry leader behind the sale of its aerobics shoes for women, Nike experienced a "belt tightening to bring down general administration costs and reduction in inventory," according to company documents.

In 1986, in his second season as a Chicago Bull, Jordan scored 63 points in a heavily watched playoff game against the Boston Celtics and his popularity began to soar. Sales of his black and red shoes and apparel followed suit.

"Then [sales] went off the wall," said Vaccaro. "It was the popularity of the kid that carried everything. It got so popular that, I'll never forget [Nike executive] Jack Joyce, he was in charge of production at that time of the Jordan line, said, 'Let's just make everything black and red and sell it. T-shirts, everything. Just paint bricks black and red and sell them.' That's how popular it became."

Two years later, after Spike Lee's ad campaign featuring Jordan and Lee himself (playing Mars Blackmon) hit the airwaves, declaring "It's gotta be the shoes," stores couldn't keep Air Jordans on the shelves. Nike sales soared past the $1 billion mark and the company assumed its spot as number one in the industry, a mantle it has yet to give up.

By 1997, Nike's worldwide sales hit a record high of $9.19 billion, more than a 1,000 percent increase from sales of $877 million in 1987. Although 1998 sales stalled—causing some layoffs and a reduction in stock prices—its hold on number one in the shoe and apparel industry is still considerable. During fiscal year 1998, according to Nike, gross sales hit $9.89 billion, highest in industry history.

Meanwhile Jordan went on to win five NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, six NBA Championships for the Chicago Bulls, and established himself as the greatest basketball player of all time. He has also become a pitchman without peer, proving he could be both Everyman and Superman at the same time. Despite links (described in the 1997 book Money Players) to heavy illegal gambling losses—both in card games and golf matches—and associations with some less than reputable people, his public persona has not wavered. Even an eighteen-month retirement stint where he played minor league baseball didn't affect his Q rating.

He is, and will likely remain even in retirement, the most popular athlete in the world.

All this is only part of the reason the search for the next Michael Jordan is so cutthroat. For a contending company such as adidas, Converse, Fila, or Reebok or an upstart such as And One, executives need only look at the Nike story to realize that finding the perfect athlete could change everything.

Nike's numbers explain why others are looking so hard today and why Vaccaro says the rules of the game have changed so drastically. While targeting the athlete is still a key to the business, no longer can a shoe company wait until the player is a junior in college. Now waiting until a player is a junior in high school can be too late.

As a fifteen-year-old freshman at Benton Harbor (Michigan) High School, 6-9 Robert Whaley made an immediate impact on the local high school scene. With extraordinarily long arms, big broad shoulders, and tremendous agility, Whaley cut an imposing figure on the court despite his tender age. An accomplished shot blocker with polished post moves and an unstoppable hook shot, he became one of Michigan's most dynamic high school players as a mere freshman.

Midwest talent scout Vincent Baldwin—who owns the college scouting service Prep Spotlight—began hearing whispers about this western Michigan man-child in December 1997. When he decided to check up on the rumors later that winter, he was shocked at how good Whaley was.

"His talent level was incredible," Baldwin said. "He could do everything on the court. I couldn't believe he was fifteen years old. The next day I called both Sonny [Vaccaro] and Nike's George Raveling and left messages saying, 'There's a fifteen-year-old in Michigan named Robert Whaley that you guys need to check out.' I called them both to be fair."

Within a week Whaley had heard from Vaccaro and received a package full of complimentary adidas gear and shoes. He was also contacted by Christopher Grier, the coach of the Michigan Mustangs, an adidas-sponsored traveling basketball team from Southfield, Michigan, some two hundred miles away. Whaley began playing for the Mustangs after his high school season and was quickly signed up for the 1998 adidas ABCD Camp, which Vaccaro oversees. "Adidas has been good to me," said Whaley. "They started sending me stuff and everyone around me was wearing adidas. I just got used to it. I know Sonny will be good for me."

How good is the question. In the cutthroat competition to lock up young Robert Whaleys—in hopes they become a Jordan, or at least a Kobe Bryant—it is clear that shoe companies and the high school coaches, scouts, and summer ball organizers that they sponsor or employ will do just about anything to be good enough.

Raveling, by the way, didn't return the call, leaving Vaccaro with an open lane into Whaley's heart. Vaccaro jumped because he knows if he is ever going to sign another MJ, he'll lay the groundwork when the player is fourteen, not twenty-one. And if he's right, Vaccaro might be smiling again for the cameras on draft night.
Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger

Table of Contents

Cast of Players
1 ~ Unlike Mike
2 ~ Shoes to Fill
3 ~ Sonny and George
4 ~ This Little Piggie Went to Nike
5 ~ Romancing the Stone
6 ~ Red, White, and Swoosh
7 ~ Wesley Wilson
8 ~ Mt. Zion
9 ~ Be like 'Mique'
10 ~ Recruiting Rush
11 ~ "Buy Your Own Goddamn Shoes"
12 ~ The Summer Season
13 ~ The Best Billboards Money Can Buy
14 ~ Free Speech for Sale
15 ~ Standing Tall
16 ~ Taking Responsibility for This Mess
Epilogue and Index

About the Authors

Dan Wetzel has contributed to Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America's Youth as an author. Dan Wetzel is a national sports columnist for Yahoo! Sports. The award-winning sportswriter, author, and screenwriter has covered all levels of basketball, as well as college football, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NHL. He was an editor and writer at Basketball Times for five years and has won numerous national writing awards. He has also been featured in several editions of The Best American Sports Writing and is the co-author of the critically-acclaimed investigative book Sole Influence. Wetzel graduated with a political science degree from the University of Massachusetts.

• Author: Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger
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• Publishing Date: Kindle Edition ~ 2010
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Light Blue Reign: How a City Slicker, a Quiet Kansan, and a Mountain Man Built College Basketball's Longest-Lasting Dynasty by Art Chansky
Light Blue Reign:
How a City Slicker, a Quiet Kansan
and a Mountain Man
Built College Basketball's
Longest-Lasting Dynasty
By Art Chansky

The 09’–10’ NCAA college basketball season marks the 100th anniversary of North Carolina basketball.

The Tar Heels have earned top-five rankings in preseason polls four of the last five years, twice at #1.
But they weren’t always seen as a power - house team.
Their strength has been decades in the making.

'Light Blue Reign' documents the building of a program, a behindthe- scenes, far-reaching, wide-angle perspective on one of the most formidable college basketball teams in the country.

Art Chansky, a sportswriter who has covered basketball on Tobacco Road for more than 30 years, uses first-hand accounts from interviews with people who were present during the fifty-year dynasty to construct an intimate, detailed narrative of what it was like to play and work for the three Hall of Fame coaches who defined this era of success.

"... The University of North Carolina basketball team, 2009 national championship winners, owns more victories over the past 50 years than any other college team. In this history, UNC alum and veteran sportswriter Chansky (Blue Blood) explains how the Tar Heels got there through the well-researched stories of three disparate coaches.

Until the arrival of coach Frank McGuire in 1953, the big men on UNC's campus were football players. A well-coiffed Irish-Catholic charmer from the streets of New York City, McGuire set high standards for his players on and off the court, leading the Tar Heels to a 32-0 season en route to the 1957 national championship.

Dean Smith (a liberal Baptist from Kansas) and Roy Williams (a broken-home survivor from the Appalachian Mountains who recently published his own memoir) continued the winning tradition, and the relationship among all three continued to grow until McGuire's 1994 death. Drawing on published and personal interviews with coaches, players and fans, Chansky is well-read but far from impartial, and presumes his readers feel the same; accordingly, this should make an ideal gift for any Tar Heels alum. ..."
Publishers Weekly

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Light Blue Reign: How a City Slicker, a Quiet Kansan, and a Mountain Man Built College Basketball's Longest-Lasting Dynasty by Art Chansky

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'Light Blue Reign' ~ Prologue 'One for the Ages'

"... THE chartered jet carry ing the 2009 national champions broke through the clouds on its approach to Raleigh- Durham Airport and entered a wide expanse of Carolina blue sky. The team, coaches, support staff, and university administrators aboard were finally home after six days of sun, cold, and snow in Detroit and the NCAA Final Four.

Their approach was smooth— not aborted twice, which had happened fi fty- two years before when North Carolina’s fi rst na tional championship team returned from Kansas City on an East ern Airlines propjet. That plane almost did not land because an estimated 5,000 fans had broken through what ever security they had in those days and swarmed near the runway.

This time, the North Carolina Tar Heels were greeted by the high- tech stuff of the twenty- first century, or at least the 1990s. Cameras replaced people for the moment. ABC- TV’s Chopper 11 hovered in the airspace above the ter minal, waiting for the team and travel party to board three buses for the thirty- minute trip back to Chapel Hill. The TV he li cop ter would trace every mile of the ride down Interstate 40 and their victory lap as the buses snaked through the UNC campus.

The lower level of the Dean Smith Center had filled with about 12,000 people of all ages, thanks to the afternoon schedule and public school vacation, which allowed excited Tar Heels fans from seven months to seventy years old a chance to welcome their latest hoop heroes. Inside the light blue arena, four large video screens were showing live coverage of the buses, which were accompanied by police escorts fore and aft as they traveled the last mile up Man ning Drive.

  The biggest roar from the crowd came when the three tiny white rectangles on the screen turned down Skipper Bowles Drive and parked behind the huge octagon, where North Carolina had won fourteen games on the way to first place in the ACC and another No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. In the arena, the four fascia scoreboards had been lit up with the final score: UNC 89, Michigan State 72.Adjacent electronic signs read: 2009 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.

  Finally, the buses emptied out, heightening the anticipation of the fans inside, and video cameras now scanned the crowd. The cameras panned up to the five national championship banners hanging from the raf ters, and then they focused on the empty space next to 2005, which would be fi lled in a few months.

The crowd cheered impatiently. How long would it take the team to walk the few hundred feet through the tunnel and climb up on the stage where twenty- four chairs had been arranged in a perfect oval? At the other end of the court stood a media platform with a phalanx of cameras ready to record the moment. On the wooden playing floor in between, which was covered by a blue tarp, stu dents moved toward the stage while behind them in the open areas children cavorted with their parents and cheerleaders- to- be cart-wheeled the time away.

The portion of the UNC pep band that had not made the bus trip to Detroit set up in a corner of Section 105 and readied to sub for the regulars, who were still on the road from the Final Four. The band blurted out the Tar Heels’ fight song and “Rah, Rah, Carolina.” People waiting at three open concession stands in the concourse scurried back inside when they heard Woody Durham, Voice of the Tar Heels, bellow: “Isn’t this great!”

Durham said he told the players on the plane ride that they had had a pretty good party the night before on the court at Ford Field and afterward in the hotel. However, that was nothing compared to what was going on at home. Then he walked off the stage.

Some cheered while others conjured up their ultimate fantasy: to be at courtside when the Tar Heels won it all and then, a mo ment later, to be among the Chapel Hill fans who fl ooded Frank lin Street. Durham returned a few minutes later with a small table that he set down right in front. “We have something to bring out and we need a place to put it,” he said. At long last, he introduced the traveling party one by one. The Tar Heels, all looking weary, wore coats and ties— not the blue blazers and gray slacks of the Mc-Guire era, but classy by modern standards. Some of the players carried camcorders pointed at the crowd.

  Bobby Frasor cradled the ball from the national championship game. Danny Green cracked everybody up when he said, “But did you see how we won it,” and then he got provoked into doing his jersey- pulling Jump Around dance. Girls in the front row held up “Marry Me” signs as the last player was called: Tyler Hansbrough walked out to the biggest roar of all.

Finally, Roy Williams arrived holding the national champion ship trophy, which was draped by one of the nets that had been stripped about fourteen hours earlier. He put it down on the table. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” UNC’s favorite son said to cheers,“winning a national championship for our alma mater. These guys took me on one fantastic ride.”

Williams looked up at the video boards as Carolina’s own ver sion of “One Shining Moment” played: Tar Heel highlights only, which Williams watched with misty eyes.

Standing only 5’10”, Williams had grown into a coaching giant over the weekend, winning his second NCAA tournament title in five years and, perhaps more important, returning Carolina bas ketball to its greatest heights of the past. After enduring a painful transition from the Dean Smith years, the program seemed all the way back in every mea sur able manner— with the same spirit of the soul that a Tar Heel fan could fi nally feel again.

Joining Smith and eleven other elite coaches who had won at least two NCAA titles, Williams was positioned to match those who had won three (Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski) and four (Adolph Rupp).

On the home front, which was as important to many UNC grads, his Tar Heels had reclaimed the superiority that Duke en joyed for much of the last twelve years since Smith retired with a 26- 14 record against Krzyzewski- coached teams. Leading a pro gram that still owned the most victories, NBA graduates and TV exposure in the 55- year history of the ACC, Williams’ two na tional championships and three Final Fours had come since the last time Duke was there in 2004.

  He was in the prime of his life and career, coaching at America’s most famous basketball school and using a fast- paced pro playing style that maximized his inherent recruiting advantages. Who wouldn’t want to play for this guy? His fifth Final Four team in the last eight seasons had the perfect blend: a point guard who led an explosive fast break and scored enough to become ACC player of the year, wing shooters who had the green light to fire away, and post men who started every offensive set by looking to score them selves.

But this season was far from how easy it seemed at the end, when Carolina fulfilled its long- time mantra of playing hard, play ing smart, and playing together at the highest level. The 2009 Tar Heels made every coach’s dream come true— reaching this peak per for mance at exactly the right time. They did it by repairing a defense that, only weeks before, couldn’t stop dribble penetration or shut down a hot outside shooter. On of fense, they shared the ball so expertly that they appeared impos­sible to stop.

The coach sought such perfection all season and was rewarded with the most dominant NCAA tournament per for mance in his school’s storied history, leaving absolutely no doubt about which was the best team in the country.  ..."
Art Chansky

Praises for 'Light Blue Reign'

"... As with all of Chansky's books, this one is well-researched and highly anecdotal. Chansky knows UNC basketball as well as anyone, and his storytelling gift brings the characters in his books to life. ..."
The News & Observer, North Carolina, USA

"... The North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the most successful college basketball programs in the land. There are of course many ways to decipher which program or team is the greatest ever... and the author massages history to present a book that constantly summarizes that North Carolina's is by far the greatest.

To a lot of fans the final crown should be placed on the head of the team that has won the most National Championships and that is by far UCLA with eleven. Kentucky has seven and Indiana and North Carolina have five each. But if the reader can put the championship total discrepancy aside... the more salient subject that the author accurately portrays is the unmatched growth of a "TAR HEEL FAMILY"... that was started by the "dressed-to-the-nines" street wise in life and basketball... inimitable... New York Irishman Frank McGuire.

Frank was one of thirteen children who grew up Fatherless when his New York cop Dad died at an early age. His life was built around sports and he became the coach of St. Johns University in New York which became one of the greatest basketball teams in the country. In fact McGuire led them to the NCAA championship game.

A point well made in the book is that he also accomplished this with North Carolina when he won it all with his undefeated North Carolina team in 1957. The 1957 championship is still mentioned as one of the greatest upsets in history as Carolina beat the all-time-all-time great Wilt Chamberlain and his Kansas team in triple overtime to win the NCAA Championship.

As of this writing there are only two other coaches in history that have led two different schools to the NCAA Championship game... and they are Larry Brown (UCLA & Kansas), Roy Williams (Kansas & North Carolina). Since Larry Brown had played college ball at North Carolina for McGuire and the immortal coach, Dean Smith, who was handpicked (from Kansas) by McGuire as an assistant and an eventual replacement... all three coaches have ties to the North Carolina family... and that is the essence of this book. (It should be noted that Coach McGuire also coached the St. Johns baseball team to the NCAA Championship game.)

The biographical coverage of Coach McGuire is fascinating and how his street moxie created what was known as the "UNDERGROUND RAILROAD" in which he recruited the heart of North Carolina's teams from New York. One of his best teams starting lineup was known as "Four Catholics and a Jew"... the Jewish ballplayer from New York was Lennie Rosenbluth who not only had the highest individual season scoring average in North Carolina Tar Heel history... but he also holds the career record for highest Carolina scoring average also.

The author tells Dean Smith's life story as well as current coach Roy Williams and current Bobcats coach Larry Brown's. The method in which the author keeps jumping back and forth between coaches and simultaneously changes time stamps becomes very confusing at times. One second you're in the middle of 1990's Carolina history with one coach and then you blink your eyes and you're back in 1962 with another. This happens constantly throughout the book and makes it hard at times to continue a seamless reading flow.

It's wonderful for any sports fan to learn of the respect between these different generations of coaches as they always remain in contact and always help out each other... each other's families... and each other's players and associates. This is what is most clearly defined without a doubt in this book... that the North Carolina family truly endures. Also covered is the overall growth of the ACC as a powerful organization and the yearly recruiting wars which North Carolina seems to be dominating.

Any basketball fan will enjoy this book... but every basketball fan including even the most fanatical Carolina fan will get confused at times as dates... places... and coaches... overlap... go forward... go back... and forth... at times in an incomprehensible manner.  ..."
Rick Goldstein, Danville, CA, USA

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments: Thank You!
The Ten "What-If's" of Carolina Basketball
Foreword by Dean Smith
Introduction Unlikely Dynasty by Rick Brewer
Prologue: One for the Ages
1 Beginnings
2 Born to Coach
3 The Irishman
4 "Deans" of the ACC
5 Perfect Storms
6 Defining Final Fours
7 The Larry Brown Bond
8 Living Legacies, Family Ties
9 The Recruiting Game
10 Great Expectations
For the Record

About the Author

Art Chansky is an author and sportswriter who has covered basketball on Tobacco Road for more than 30 years. By day, he is a sports marketing executive who developed an all-sports competition between Duke and Carolina called the Carlyle Cup. After graduating from UNC, he wrote for the Atlanta Constitution and was Sports Editor of the Durham Morning Herald for seven years. He has written The Dean’s List and Dean’s Domain on North Carolina basketball and Dean Smith. He lives with his family on the “Duke side” of Chapel Hill.

• Author: Art Chansky
• Format:  eBook
• Number of Pages: 384 pages
• File Size: 581 KB
• Browse Duration in Minutes: 60
• Wireless Delivery: Included within a minute of placing your order
• Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
• Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
• Publishing Date: First edition ~ April 1, 2010
• Language: English

• Also available: In the classic hardcover edition

... more  Light Blue Reign: How a City Slicker, a Quiet Kansan, and a Mountain Man Built College Basketball's Longest-Lasting Dynasty by Art Chansky  info at ...

Light Blue Reign: How a City Slicker, a Quiet Kansan, and a Mountain Man Built College Basketball's Longest-Lasting Dynasty by Art Chansky

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