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Old-school basketball: biographies of an exemplary guard and a masterful college coach.

The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game

by Oscar Robertson Rodale Books, November 2003 $24.95, ISBN 1-579-54764-8

Whenever I think of great basketball players, there is a name that inevitably comes to mind. No, it's not Wilt, Elgin or Bill, nor would it be Kareem, Julius or Magic. Before the legacy of Michael, and the crowning of Kobe and other wannabes, there was the "Big O"--still referred to as "the greatest all-around basketball player ever to play in the NBA." Oscar Robertson--at 6'5", 210 pounds--was the exemplary guard 30 years ago, the very best at what he did.

Beginning with his difficult birth in 1938 and moving progressively through the years to his current status as a businessman and CEO of his own chemical company, readers learn what motivated him to become the accomplished man he is.

He grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, in a segregated housing project. Drawn to basketball, he confronted 1950s racism both in his hometown and at the University of Cincinnati, where he became the leading scorer in the nation, all-American and college player of the year, for three consecutive seasons.

As a player, Robertson was revered for his radarlike jump shot. Many old-timers have said that Robertson could shoot better in the dark than most professionals could shoot in the light. In 2000, the National Association of Basketball Players named Robertson the Player of the Century. This chronicle of a sports legend and his life beyond the athletic arena is definitely worth reading.

Chaney: Playing for a Legend

by Donald Hunt with Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones Triumph Books, November 2003 $24.95, ISBN 1-572-43580-1

Assisted by Donald Hunt of The Philadelphia Tribune, Aaron McKie of the 76ers and Eddie Jones of the Miami Heat discuss their college coach, his impact and "what he brought to the table of life" for the players who played for him. As a collegiate coach for more than 40 years--22 of them with the Owls of Temple University--Hall of Fame coach John Chaney has proven to be a masterful basketball coach. More importantly, he is also a proficient teacher. He has both the adulation and respect of his contemporaries. Many would say that Chaney is what's good about college sports.

Chaney is perceived to be an old-school coach--a stickler for discipline and for following the rules. He maintains high standards and demands the same from those who come under his tutelage. While he is seen as a father figure for many of his players, he is not without critics, who claim his "my way or the highway attitude" is not progressive coaching.

What makes John Chaney a tremendous coach? Why is he perceived to be different from most coaches? Does it matter that he is an African American coach who coaches mostly African American players? The questions are many, the answers are provocative.

Chaney: Playing for a Legend is a penetrating look at a unique member of our community, a positive model for others to follow.

Fred Lindsey is an assistant professor at John F. Kennedy University.
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:arena
Author:Lindsey, Fred
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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