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John Wooden: An American Treasure Hardcover – October 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581824076
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581824070
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,295,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Bisheff explores the secret passages of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, and he finds treasures we never knew existed. -- Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune

Bisheff's book is like getting a rare inside look at the greatest dynasty in the history of college sports. -- Dick Weiss, New York Daily News

About the Author

STEVE BISHEFF has covered John Wooden longer and more extensively than any other journalist, beginning as a young UCLA beat writer in the early championship years through Wooden’s final season and the years since he retired. Bisheff has been a sports columnist for the Orange County Register since 1982, covering everything from the Super Bowl to the Olympics, as well as the Angels, Lakers, Dodgers, USC, UCLA, and major horse races.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Ewing on December 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This bio by Steve Bisheff of the OC Register is the best on Coach that I've read. I've read everything on Coach Wooden and couldn't put this one down. It took me back 40+ years when I first began to take notice of the Coach and his Bruins. What a great celebration of the career and life of the greatest coach and teacher there's ever been. Without painting him as perfect this bio highlights the character of a man who didn't just coach basketball players, but taught youing men about life. What's amazing is that 40-50 years later his boys are successful in life because of his influence and not afraid to proclaim their love for their Coach. This is a must read especially for Wooden/UCLA fans
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JAMES H. LISTER on May 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This splendid biographical study details many obscurely known facets of John Wooden's public and private life such as that he was a schoolteacher at one time. It especially excels on describing Wooden's family life and his continuing friendship with his former players after he retired from coaching at U.C.L.A. in 1975. It also updates the reader on what activities have transpired in the lives of Coach Wooden's former players after their collegiate basketball playing days.

This definitive biography would be more complete if the author had included a bibliography but for some mysterious reason this was omitted. John Wooden was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts as a player and a coach. He is generally considered to have been the greatest college basketball coach of all time. This book is also remiss in that it doesn't include numerous details of John's professional playing career for the Indianapolis Kautskys in the 1930's after John graduated from Purdue University having been an All-American for three years. The author mentions that John Wooden once sank at least one hundred consecutive free throws while playing for the Indianapolis Kautskys. However the author's citation of this incident is vaguely imprecise. In a personal communication with me John Wooden confided that he sank 134 consecutive free throws for the Indianapolis Kautskys. John stated to me that Frank Kautsky personally gave him a one hundred dollar bill after John had sunk his one hundredth free throw in a row. John's 134 consecutive free throws sunk in competitive league play is the all-time record on the professional, collegiate or high school level.

I have always admired John Wooden's life-style values and coaching philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
There are many records in sports that have been or are considered unbreakable. For years, two sports records that were considered unbreakable were Lou Gehrig's streak of consecutive games played and Joe Dimaggio's streak of consecutive games with at least one hit. Cal Ripken eclipsed Gehrig's streak, demonstrating that no record is unbreakable. The sports record that now seems most unattainable is basketball coach John Wooden's record of consecutive victories and NCAA championships while he was coaching at UCLA. His record of 10 championships in 12 years is amazing, including an incredible seven in a row. Furthermore, a few more favorable bounces in the championship game in 1974 and it would have been 11 out of 12.
In the world of basketball coaches that stomp the sidelines and scream at the officials, yell at their players and sometime approach the level of sadistic workouts, Wooden was extremely understated. He was calm, organized and didn't even scout the opposition. His philosophy was that if his team executed their roles properly, no one could stop them. In general he was right, although he did have two of the greatest college players of all time in Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.
While Wooden did occasionally stray from his placid path, it was very rare and he was always gracious about it. His greatest asset was to never consider himself to be the titan of the game that he is, in public Wooden always gave credit to his players. The most amazing fact in this book is how low his salary was at UCLA. Even at his peak, he was earning less than low-level assistants were earning at many other universities. He was so humble that he never made any salary demands. He turned down enormous offers to coach in the pros and he chose to quit when his team was still champion.
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Format: Paperback
When you have been as successful as John Wooden was during the last decade while he coached basketball at UCLA, it's inevitable that most interest will focus on what he did during practices and games over those years. To do so is understandable, but it's also a little misleading.

Imagine that you only heard a canary sing. Would you be able to figure out everything else about what canaries are like just from the song?

In this book, Steve Bisheff added a lot to my understanding of Mr. Wooden by revealing what he was like as a player and how he conducted himself after retiring from UCLA. My appreciation for the man as a man went way up.

As you know, some very successful basketball coaches aren't necessarily the nicest people in the world. Mr. Wooden seems to be the exception to the rule to the old saying that nice guys finish last. He really was a nice guy, and that certainly didn't get into his way.

Those who haven't read any books about his coaching philosophy will find this book to provide plenty of what's needed.

Naturally, the book is incomplete . . . focusing more on the man's character than on how he became a great coach. Those who want to learn to improve their coaching will be able to learn from this book what Mr. Wooden was doing at his peak but will get a lot fewer insights into how he learned the lessons that allowed him to flourish.

But in these days when there are lots of characters, but not many men of character, I'm pleased that Mr. Bisheff chose to take that approach.
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