Tag Archives: Sports

Books from the New York Times Best Seller’s List January 2014

  How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney

Where can you find a good book when you are looking for one?  The library has hundreds of books, but which one should you choose?  One option is to read reviews (like this one) or to wander through book lists, like the New York Times.  This will give you a good idea of what books are being read and enjoyed by others.  Our club decided to pick books from some of these lists.

​The book How Lucky You Can Be was written by Buster Olney, an ESPN announcer.  It is subtitled “The Story of Coach Don Meyer.”  Coach Meyer is the most famous coach that you never heard of… but other basketball coaches around the country know about him.  He devoted himself not only to his teams but also to teaching the art of coaching to anyone interested in the game he loved.  This is much more than a sports story.  It is the story of a dedicated man who at times neglected his family to achieve greatness in his field, passing the legendary Bobby Knight in career wins with over 903 victories, the most by any coach in history at that time.  It took a tragedy for him to express the love he had for his family — wife, children, and his players.

​ Don Meyer had been a college player at Northern Colorado and a head coach for years at David Lipscomb College and Northern State University.  His success was tremendous, but this story really begins on a lonely stretch of two-land road in South Dakota.  While leading a caravan of cars, taking his players on a team-building retreat, Meyer fell asleep at the wheel.  His car veered into an oncoming tractor-trailer truck.  The Coach was crushed, and it was feared that he would die from his injuries.  At the hospital, doctors prepared his wife because they were certain he would not make it through the surgery.  After five hours, Meyer survived but lost part of a leg, his spleen, and had numerous other injuries.  Meyer said that the accident was the best thing that could have happened to him.  He equated it with an angel providing him with a message.  The doctors found that Meyer had terminal cancer.

​ The story describes how this driven coach, who did not want to give up coaching basketball, rose to face the greatest challenge of his life.  He reassessed his life and his relationships.  His three adult children describe the changes that he under went.  Meyer now expressed himself, particularly his emotional self.  He did not hold back telling his children, his wife, or his players how much he loved them.  This tragedy actually has made their family even closer.  This is the story of a man who’s belief in God, his religion, his family, and his team— both coaches and players– gave him the strength to come back to coaching and to fight the lose of a leg and the cancer.  This would be the toughest battle of his life.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly, not only for basketball fans, as an inspirational story of a man fighting to overcome tremendous odds.  (5 of 5)

Other books from book lists rated by different club members:

Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

Part love story, part meditation on finding spiritual peace in the midst of crisis.  It is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective.  (4 of 5)

  Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

A funny, informative nonfiction book with excellent examples of misused punctuation. (5 of 5)

  The Hundred Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

The story spans the 20th century with a character similar to Forest Gump.  (4 of 5)

 The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Multiple story lines and strong women tell the story of World War II.  (5 of 5)

    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Thought provoking historic novel about women being held back by authoritive men.  (4 of 5)

     Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Published in 1932, a thought  provoking novel anticipates developments that have profoundly changed society.  (4.5 of 5)

 The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

This tale shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during the season of miracles.  (5 of 5)

 God is not Mad at You by Joyce Meyer

A book that explains the relationship between God and man.  (5 of 5)

     Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews

‘Tis the season to be jolly – a funny novel with a heroine who rounds up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer.  Duck the Halls! (5 of 5)

    Nighttime is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark

A riveting novel of psychological suspense that depicts the mind of a killer. (4 of 5)

The Club Members rating these books:

Pat Gombita, Mona Herrell, Pat Kuna, Lee Ann Schrock, Julie Shultz, Bill Simmons, Deb Stewart, Barb Swanson, Linda Troll, Patti Tullis and Rae Ann Weaver

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Biography, Crime, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Historical, History, Humor, Inspirational, Inspirational, Murder, Mystery, Personal Insights, Religion, Sports, Sports/Entertainment

Dream Team

By Jack McCallum

Published by Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2012

1992 seems like a lifetime away, and I guess it was if you are 20 years old. For those of us who can actually remember 1992 and were basketball fans even then, “Dream Team” is a treat.

Sports journalist Jack McCallum doesn’t chronicle everything about the ’92 Olympic basketball team and their games and victories. This is not a transcript of the play by play. What he does is give us is insight into how the Dream Team came to be, from getting the go ahead to allow professional athletes to play in the Olympics to the attainment of gold. In addition we get a glimpse of the past and present of those stars and we learn a little about what they are up to now. Jack kind of gives us a little basketball version of VH1’s behind the music. He provides us with the backstage access to one of history’s greatest basketball teams which included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner, and Coach Chuck Daly

Now, there has been a recent claim by one Kobe Bryant that the 2012 incantation of the U.S. Basketball team could defeat the 1992 Dream Team. My only response to that is a gut busting laugh, because he must have been joking. Michael Jordan laughed as I did, and while admitting that the new guard may have a physical edge, they aren’t as smart. I would also venture to guess that there are few players today who are as competitive as the ’92 squad. Jordan, Bird, and Magic took competitive to a whole other level. Today’s players only care about personal stats and money; winning is secondary to the other two goals. I’ve read quite a bit about Bird (one of my favorite athletes of all time) and Magic, and through their words and this book I have come to a grudging acceptance of Jordan’s greatness. These three together just had a head for the game, they learned how to work as a team, they had a killer instinct, and they never shrunk from the big moment.

Basketball experienced a complete renaissance in the 80’s early 90’s and it culminated with the Dream Team. The Dream Team proved to be a boon for international competition, bringing the game to a worldwide audience and creating new basketball fans and players in far off lands. No matter how good players get, I find it highly improbable that any proceeding team could ever be as good as that one. This is a great read for the Basketball fan and historian.

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Filed under Adult Non-Fiction, Sports/Entertainment