Nothing But Net: Just Give Me the Ball and Get Out of the Way

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9780786880782: Nothing But Net: Just Give Me the Ball and Get Out of the Way

For more than 20 years, Bill Walton has been one of the National Basketball Association's greatest and most outspoken players and commentators. Now, the NBA Showtime host sounds off on his own turbulent career, other players, and the cutthroat world of the NBA.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Hall-of-Fame cager Walton looks back at his injury-ridden college and NBA career. With the help of Los Angeles Times sportswriter Wojciechowski (Pond Scum and Vultures, 1990), Walton sticks pretty much to the game: there's only passing mention of his many battles and controversies with owners, refs, and the media; of his involvement in the Patty Hearst case; his celebrated Vietnam War protests; and his ongoing relationship with the Grateful Dead. He waxes nostalgic, though, for the good old days at UCLA (1970-74) and his two NCAA championships there, and he's unabashed in praising former coach John Wooden. He also lauds Larry Bird (the ``best player I ever played with''), Bill Russell (``the best player in the history of basketball''), Jack Ramsay, Lenny Wilkins, Jammal Wilkes, Red Auerbach and Michael Jordan, but deals glancing blows at Clyde ``The Glide'' Drexler, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and NBA rookie Chris Webber. During his 13 years in the NBA, Walton underwent an incredible 30 operations, many of them on his feet, and calculates that he sat out nine seasons--762 games--because of injuries. Even so, he was a force in two NBA titles--with Portland in 1977, and the Boston Celtics in 1986. It wasn't all glory, however: He ``despised the level of selfishness'' on the Portland team, a criticism he aims at many of today's players. He often failed to get along with teammates, threatened to quit, and even filed a malpractice suit against the team doctor. He laments his years with the San Diego Clippers, blaming himself for the franchise's failure and eventual move to L.A. Having overcome a stutter, Walton is now an NBC analyst and broadcaster. Walton is all over the court and regrettably side-steps some issues. But it hardly matters: he's still one of the game's most interesting personalities. (Eight pages of b&w photos--not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Walton is one of the of the great coulda-beens in sports history. If injuries hadn't destroyed his career, he might have been the greatest player of all-time--no, we're not forgetting Michael, Magic, Larry, Russ, or Wilt. In his only two relatively healthy NBA seasons, Walton was on championship teams. In Portland in 1976-77, he was the key player; in Boston (1985-86), he was the top reserve. Walton is now a basketball commentator for NBC television, and, inevitably, he has authored what is, in some ways, a typical jock autobiography. There are lots of game accounts and humorous anecdotes about "that funny thing that happened at practice that time." What separates the book from its competition, though, is the same thing that separated Walton from his opponents on the court: the passion and honesty with which he approaches the game. Walton had a love affair with basketball, and the intensity of that affair translates to every page of this book. The frustration he experienced with his numerous injuries is gut-wrenching, and the crisis he underwent when he realized he could never play again comes across as akin to the death of a loved one. Equally vivid is the description of the relationship Walton has shared over 20 years with his coach at UCLA, the venerable John Wooden. This isn't quite in the same league as such classic hoop autobiographies as Bill Bradley's Life on the Run or Bill Russell's Go Up for Glory, but it's damn close. Wes Lukowsky

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