John Wooden is the winningest coach in NCAA history, and a legend in the world of basketball. I spotted his autobiography on a friend’s bookshelf and asked to borrow it. She also insisted that I take The Zookeeper’s Wife. Suffice it to say that I thought this book was the better of the two.
There were three big things that I was left with at the end of the book:
One of the things that really struck me about this book was the way in which he described his former players. He speaks of them with genuine affection and care, and years after they’ve struck out on their own, you can tell that he still thinks about them and loves them. Wooden wasn’t shy about using the word “love” in regard to his players.
Another thing that stuck out to me was his devotion to his wife. He absolutely doted on her, and the way he talked about her was beautiful to see. Nellie Wooden passed away in 1985, but Wooden remained faithful to her memory for the rest of his life. That’s a rare love.
The last thing about Wooden that really made an impression on me was his love for God. He talks about his beliefs with not only conviction and passion, but with much love and affection for his Lord as well. He doesn’t make any apologies for his faith, and he also doesn’t try to make it the focus of the book. But it’s as much a part of the book as it was a part of him.
My only criticism of the book was that it seemed a little disorganized at times. It was written with Jack Tobin, who writes for Sports Illustrated</a<, so I was a little surprised that Tobin didn't rein in his subject a little.
But as far as sports books go, this is a great one, and a must-read for all fans of basketball, sportsmanship, and heroes.