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The Sons of Westwood

The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Sons of Westwood
    Book Description:

    For more than a decade, the UCLA dynasty defined college basketball. In twelve seasons from 1964 to 1975, John Wooden's teams won ten national titles, including seven consecutive championships. The Bruins also rose to prominence during a turbulent age of political unrest and youthful liberation. When Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton--the most famous college basketball players of their generation--spoke out against racism, poverty, and the Vietnam War, they carved out a new role for athletes, casting their actions on and off the court in a political light. The Sons of Westwood tells the story of the most significant college basketball program at a pivotal period in American cultural history. It weaves together a story of sports and politics in an era of social and cultural upheaval, a time when college students and college athletes joined the civil rights movement, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and rejected the dominant Cold War culture. This is the story of America's culture wars played out on the basketball court by some of college basketball's most famous players and its most memorable coach.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09505-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1 Goodness! Gracious! Sakes Alive!
    (pp. 1-28)

    John Wooden wanted to turn around, but it was too late. Indiana was long gone in his rearview mirror. In the summer of 1948, Wooden and his family packed their car and headed west on Route 66. Over the course of two weeks, they crossed the Mississippi River, traversed the Great Plains of Missouri, and continued through the flatlands of Oklahoma and Texas. Along the scenic route, they saw diners, motels, and ghost towns. They visited Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon and toured the Mojave Desert. From there, they snaked up and down the mountains and valleys of California....

  6. 2 The Wizard of Westwood
    (pp. 29-54)

    Walt Hazzard had never heard of John Wooden. John Wooden had never heard of Walt Hazzard, either. The UCLA coach disliked recruiting and paid little attention to high school players outside of Southern California. Hazzard grew up in Philadelphia, twenty-seven hundred miles from Westwood. In Philadelphia every high school and college coach knew about him. During his sophomore and junior years at Overbrook High, he played alongside future NBA players Wally Jones and Wayne Hightower, winning back-to-back city championships. In 1960, as a senior, Hazzard became a local star and was named Philadelphia high school player of the year.¹


  7. 3 The Promised Land
    (pp. 55-78)

    “I came here,” Gail Goodrich declared, “to play basketball.” It was his singular focus. His entire world centered on practice and games. As a boy, he dreamed of playing big-time college basketball, though he imagined that he would play for USC since his father had played there in the late 1930s. Unfortunately for him, few college coaches shared his dream. They said he was too small. During Goodrich’s junior year, John Wooden came to the Los Angeles city high school tournament to scout other players, but something Goodrich did caught his attention. The scrawny, five-foot-eight, 120-pound guard showed incredible quickness...

  8. 4 Alone in a Crowd
    (pp. 79-106)

    “Freshmen are not allowed to talk to reporters.” Every time a writer approached Lew Alcindor with a tape recorder, pencil, and paper, he replied with this standard line. During his freshman year, the UCLA athletic department received more than one hundred requests to interview him, an unmatched volume for any player nationwide. His high school coach had refused to allow the press anywhere near him, and now journalists would have to patiently wait another year to talk with him. J. D. Morgan maintained that UCLA “always” had a policy that prohibited freshman interviews, a rule that no writer seemed to...

  9. 5 Everybody’s All-American
    (pp. 107-136)

    There was no place to hide. Wherever Lew Alcindor went, reporters poked him with microphones and prodded him with questions, photographers stalked and blinded him with the flash of a camera, and strangers gawked and pointed as if it was impossible to miss a seven-foot black man standing among white Lilliputians. John Wooden recalled that some whites viewed him as an object or some kind of creature, “something rather than someone.” One time, a white woman shouted, “Look at that big black freak!” Wooden tried to convince Alcindor that the woman was startled by his size and that his black...

  10. 6 Woman Chasers and Hopheads
    (pp. 137-152)

    In the summer of 1968, on a sweltering hot day, Lew Alcindor swaggered down the sidewalks of Harlem, soaking his long, brightly colored African robe with sweat. He did not care about the cruel summer heat. When he wore that loud red, orange, and yellow striped robe, he felt cool and hip. It was his way of saying, “This is me. I am black and I am proud to be black.” At 125th Street, just off Eighth Avenue, he stopped and entered a mosque. Since he came to UCLA, Alcindor had searched for the meaning and substance of his own...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 7 The Desperate Coach
    (pp. 153-176)

    On the evening of May 4, 1970, eleven hundred UCLA alumni, fans, and parents gathered at the Beverly Hilton ballroom to celebrate another Bruins championship at the annual basketball team banquet. The night began like many other banquets, with boosters shaking hands with coaches, parents boasting about their sons, and players reminiscing about the season. Every year the seniors gave a farewell address. This season John Vallely and Bill Seibert were the featured speakers. Vallely, a two-year starter, gave a traditional senior farewell, praising the team for the discipline, dedication, and unity they displayed throughout the season. Few people in...

  13. 8 The Red Menace
    (pp. 177-200)

    On October 14, 1971, a day before Bill Walton’s first varsity practice, a Sports Illustrated photographer asked him to take a picture with Coach Wooden. Walton hated taking pictures and detested individual attention, especially because basketball was a team game. At six-foot-eleven, the rawboned teenager posed awkwardly in his clean white uniform, pale skin exposed, his hands crossed in front of his body. His angular shoulders, wiry arms, and tender right knee wrapped in a heavy bandage suggested that his body might not hold up for the entire season. With a boyish freckled face, lantern jaw, and shaggy red hair,...

  14. 9 The Rebel and the Saint
    (pp. 201-228)

    Bill Walton loved to argue with John Wooden. They debated everything: the war, politics, religion, clothes, curfew, and team rules. It seemed that every day, Walton irritated Wooden in practice, persistently asking the same questions. “Why do we have to do it this way? Why? Why? Why?” Before the first practice of Walton’s senior year, the All-American center tested Wooden again. On team picture day, he arrived unshorn. Walton’s thick red hair covered his ears, and his scraggly chinstrap beard made him look like he played for the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) San Diego Conquistadors, not the UCLA Bruins. Wooden...

  15. 10 Cracks in the Pyramid
    (pp. 229-250)

    In 1974 the Sporting News’s Art Spander commented, “In these turbulent times, when other myths are being destroyed, when politicians have less veracity than circus pitchmen, when the economy is bouncing around like a free ball at midcourt, one thing remains constant, UCLA is still winning basketball games.” By the mid-1970s, there was a growing sense that American institutions were failing, leaders could not be trusted, and the country’s ideals had vanished. America had lost a war, its president disgraced in a cover-up scandal and its people frustrated by a stagnating economy. With swelling unemployment, increasing poverty, inflation, and endless...

  16. 11 The Godfather
    (pp. 251-278)

    “We were just getting ready to celebrate,” Marques Johnson explained. Only minutes earlier, with less than ten seconds left in overtime, Johnson had passed the ball to Richard Washington, UCLA’s towering center. Standing about ten feet from the basket, Washington posted up against Louisville’s Bill Bunton, maneuvered past him with one dribble, and released a soft, arcing shot. If Washington made it, UCLA would play in the national championship. If he missed, John Wooden would coach in the consolation finale for the second consecutive season. Fortunately for Wooden, the ball swished through the net, and Washington became an instant hero....

  17. Notes
    (pp. 279-326)
  18. Index
    (pp. 327-334)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-338)