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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Barkley’

Nothing But Net: Just Give Me The Ball And Get Out Of The Way” (1994©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for “Nothing But Net“, written by Bill Walton with Gene Wojciechowski.  It is a quasi-autobiographical book stringing together a long list of anecdotes and opinions about life, music (Walton is a major fan of The Grateful Dead band) and basketball.  By “quasi-” I mean, the authors leave out large blocks of personal information about Walton’s life.  As such, it’s “curious” to exclude, but I guess that’s why “personal” information is also called “private” information.  Some of the topics are hinted at, but no real information is provided.
Examples are:
1) he thanks his parents for how they raised him, but doesn’t say anything about “how” they raised him.
2) he mentions his four sons and his wife, but doesn’t say his “wife” is his “current” wife and not the mother of his children.  Actually, he says nothing about wife one, how they met or why they divorced.
3) he says he is constantly questioned about Patty Hearst and drug use, but doesn’t explain why he is asked about them. And, (to me, most significantly)
4) on a less personal note, he talks about basketball skills like footwork and angles, but doesn’t offer the slightest hints on any of his insights.  I guess he is saving that information for another book.
Having said all of the above, before I continue this review I need to offer a “full disclosure”: I grew up watching Bill Walton and UCLA.  I then missed most of his professional career while I was in the Army, attending college, and subsequently lost interest in professional sports.  At this point, I was only following the Forty Niners and / or only watching championship series (World Series, NBA Finals, Final Four, etc).  One of my most vivid teenage memories of sports was watching UCLA destroy Memphis State in the Final Four – where Walton scored on 21 of 22 shots from the field and had 44 points by himself.  Another was watching Walton face a four on one fast break where he blocked three shots (my recollection is by three different players, but I could be wrong about that), then got the rebound after the third block.  That game was against one of the Oregon teams (as I recall), but the opponent was kind of irrelevant.  The point was he stopped the fast break all by himself by blocking THREE shots!  Needless to say, I thought he was a “heroic” figure.  I can’t honestly say he was “my” hero, only that it was the kind of thing you see VERY rarely in your lifetime.  A bit like Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths (pulling away) or Bob Beamon crushing the world record in the long jump at the 1968 Olympics by over 21 inches.  Anyway, my wife and I were shopping in a charity shop we support (ARF Thrift Store – ARF = Animal Rescue Foundation) and I found this book for $.50.  So, I snapped it up and dove right in and began reading it that night.
In other words, I am biased about the author and was already predisposed to “like” this book if it was at all interesting or well written.  It is — mostly — both.
The tone is very conversational, which I like.  The topic is sports (basketball), which I like.  And, the analysis which is offered (other players from that era – up to 1993) is interesting.  It’s interesting because Walton identifies some of the players he feels are truly “great” and explains why.  It also lists some with potential greatness and lists some of the things they need(ed) to do to become great.  Finally, the book lists some players who Walton feels are good but not great and (mostly) covers why they are not “really” great – in his opinion.  As some of the players from all three groups have ultimately ended up in the Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF), we have a chance to look back and analyze Walton’s opinions for their accuracy / validity.  The three I found the most interesting were Michael Jordon – criticized for his early retirement after three consecutive championships (MJ went off to try professional baseball and then returned for three more NBA championships); Patrick Ewing, who is criticized for not having a mid-range shot / game.  Ewing developed a mid-range shot and is now in the HOF.  And, the third player I found interesting was Charles Barkley, who Walton more or less calls a cry-baby who always tries to shift the blame for losses onto other teammates.  Barkley is also in the HOF.
On the self-reflection side, Walton is also hard on himself.  He pretty much admits to being a pain in the ass as a teammate, which he attributes to wanting so badly to win EVERY time he went on the court.  He also spends a lot of time (repeatedly) saying how much he loves / loved the game of basketball and how it was his refuge for all of his teen and most of his early adult years.  As an aside, I’ve mostly known Walton as a loquacious basketball color-man / announcer, who tended to have an opinion about most everything and was happy to share it with everyone.  As it turns out, Walton suffered from “severe” stuttering until after he retired, which he feels he is now trying to make up for by over-talking.  He acknowledges his diarrhea of the mouth and handles it with a bit of self-deprecation, which I found surprisingly and refreshingly honest.  In the end, what really comes across is Walton’s joy in both playing the game and for living life to the fullest.
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  You won’t really learn much about basketball skills from this book, which is kind of what I was hoping for (a little).  You will get a snapshot of the sport of basketball – college circa 1970 to 1993 – and professional (NBA) from mid-1970’s to 1993, with an emphasis on players and personalities.  If you are a Walton fan (I still am), watched college or NBA basketball during this time frame, or you’re just interested in some NBA history, I think you’ll really enjoy reading this book.  I know I did.
If just reading the book isn’t enough for you, you can find loads of videos about Bill Walton on YouTube.  You can also find loads of his analysis and commentaries.
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On This Day In:
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

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So at the beginning of the year have a plan for what you want to achieve during this year. Doing so has kept me on the steady road of being able to seize opportunities. Each day I try to focus just on that day’s task at hand, and not look at too much of the past, too much of the future. Everything I want in the future will be there if I take care of today and do today like today is supposed to be done. Then I figure one day I’ll stop and look behind me and say, ‘Hey, you know, there’ve been some good achievements along the way.‘ “
  —  Ice Cube
quoted by Charles Barkley in his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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What I’m trying to get across, as a final thought, is that if you encourage people to venture beyond their natural environment and get them to interact with people they believe are different, they’ll find that we have a lot more in common than we think.  But silence isn’t going to get it done.  Ignoring the problem isn’t going to get it done.  Clinging to old stereotypes isn’t going to get it done.  Dialogue is the best place to start.  Hell, it’s the only place to start.
  —    Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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I’ll take it even a step further.  I believe poor folks, black and white, have been virtually brainwashed to hate each other.  Not only are they going to be successful if they band together, but America is dominated by financial subcultures now.  Poor folks go their whole lives fighting each other, while small groups of people, laughing all the way to the bank, carve up the whole big pie of money.  Man, you talk about divide and conquer.  You’ve got too many people not working together, believing race is their problem when poverty and bad schools are their problem, and before you know it, there’s a small group of people who have all the money.  As long as they keep the poor people divided, those poor people are never going to be able to get a decent-size piece of the pie.
  -–  Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
[We are the 99%!!  Can you hear us now?  —  KMAB]
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If you believe in yourself, that’s number one.  Second is you’ve got to be willing to work hard.  Nobody gives you anything; it doesn’t happen overnight.  You have to be willing to stay in the trenches and work hard.  And third is you’ve got to understand how to communicate effectively across all different levels of interaction.  You have to learn how to interpret people and understand what they want from you and what you can give to them.  And that goes into believing in yourself.  I don’t care if you’re going to sweep the streets; be the best street sweeper you can be.  If you go in there with that attitude, that I’m as good as the next guy, you may not end up being the richest guy in the world, you may not end up being the best ballplayer in the world, you may not end up being a senator from Illinois.  But you’re going to know in your mind that you are doing the best you can do based on your belief in yourself.
  —  Robert Johnson
Founder of Black Entertainment Television
Quoted in:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?“, written by Charles Barkley
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We all have what I call the screw-up gene in us.  In order to keep it from taking over and ruining your life, you have to surround yourself with good people.
  —  Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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Barack can bring people together.  It won’t be enough to get him elected president of the United States, but it would sure be something.  Personally, I don’t think America will ever have a black president.  The racial divide runs too deep.  But Barack will be a good test if he does run for the Oval Office.  If America can’t find him qualified and appealing enough to elect, that would tell you just about everything you need to know.  But I don’t want to limit the focus — and our perception of him — to that one question.
Instead of asking what Barack Obama can become, we should ask ourselves what we can do to become more like Barack Obama.
  —  Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?” (2005©)
[I guess Sir Charles should stick to sports commentary and stay away from political predictions.  Still, I predicted the same thing in 2008 and I was wrong too.  —  KMAB]
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The second thing, I believe, is that we tend to make assumptions about people who aren’t in our crowd that aren’t accurate.  For example, most poor people are not on welfare;  they work.  I think that most poor people would agree that the best social program is a job, and that work is a lot better than welfare.  Many, many poor people are the most anticrime people you can imagine, because they’re the people most likely to be victimized by it.
  —  Former President Bill Clinton
quoted in “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?” by Charles Barkley
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Too often fear has been used to keep us apart.   It’s the fear of the unknown.  That’s what segregation created and built up over time.  We spent so much time hating each other that we never stopped to realize that most black people and white people just want the same things in life.
Now that we’re no longer legally separated by race, we’re separated by money.  So we still don’t live together; we still don’t get to see the best qualities we each have to offer.
  —  Charles Barkley
from his book: “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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It’s just that simple.  You go to work.  You always go to work.
  —    Samuel L. Jackson
From:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?”  by Charles Barkley
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At some point we know we have to take responsibility.  Nobody is forcing parents to not look after their children.
Obviously, in some situations, there is a lot of poverty.  And it’s a lot more difficult.  But our grandparents were poorer than that and they looked after their children.  Poverty didn’t strip our ancestors of their sense of responsibility.
  —    Senator Barack Obama
Quoted by:   Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man
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One of the keys for a black leader to be effective is that white people can’t be afraid of him.  White people have all the money and power, and if they’re going to help black people, if they’re going to listen to their complaints, they have to be approached in a nonthreatening way.
  —   Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
[From the preface to his interview with then Senator Barack Obama]
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I know people will disagree whenever race is a topic, but that’s part of the point.  We shouldn’t be so scared to disagree or to argue that we just avoid something that everybody knows is so destructive.  I want to try and start a dialogue.  I want to sit down with people and have open, positive discussions about race and how they feel about where we’re going, what’s good, what’s bad, what smart people ought to be thinking.
  —    Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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I’ve said a million times that racism is the biggest cancer of my lifetime.  There’s not a chance in the world I can eliminate it or solve it.  But I can’t sit around and say nothing. I can, because of my position in life, try to start a more public discussion of race and how prejudice just kills us all little by little.
  —    Charles Barkley
From his book:  “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?
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Today I finished “Who’s Afraid Of A Large Black Man?“, by Charles Barkley (edited by Michael Wilbon) (2005©).  This is a book about racism in America.  More specifically, it’s a book about asking successful people to discuss their experiences and views about racism in America.
Charles Barkley is a famous former professional athlete.  In this book, he interviews thirteen people to open a discussion about race and racism in America.  The list includes: Tiger Woods, former President Bill Clinton, former Senator (current President) Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, and George Lopez.  Each of the interviewees brings their perspective to the issue.  All say essentially the same thing: we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a ways to go.
I found the book a fascinating (and very quick) read.  My own view is, of course, mixed with my personal experience – racism exists and is a powerful force for division in the country I love.  I have seen it face to face, experienced it, seen people look away, and seen people rise up to the challenge of it.
I believe racism in America is about fear and economic opportunity.  The fear is the fear of “others”.  Those not like us.  Those not from around here.  Them.  I believe there is a natural tendency in humans to bond with those we are near and associate with.  Call it localism, nationalism, tribalism or some other kind of “groupism” and it still results in the same thing – “us” against “them”.  This tendency is played upon and magnified by those who seek to “control” the majority of Americans – the majority who just want to get on with their lives, get ahead a little financially and raise a family.  The tactic is to divide and conquer and, as I mentioned previously, race is one easy way of dividing people who might otherwise find common cause.
There is a perception in modern society that we can’t ALL have great jobs – whatever “great jobs” means.  That may be correct.  But, we should all be able to work hard for a living wage.  Note, I said “living wage”, not “minimum wage”.  “Work hard” means more than just showing up, although that is a very important part of working hard.  It also means giving your best effort during the time you are working. It normally means using your brains as well as your muscles.
I question this perception / belief / assumption.  I believe we can all earn a living wage. We are not all going to be “rich”, but I believe our nation is unique in its ability to fund equal opportunity.  I’m not sure we always had this ability, but I certainly believe we do now.  I believe we are moving into a post-industrial (post-standardized, post-mass produced) world where the benefits of industrial scaling are beginning to decrease and the benefits of limited, customized, specialized manufacturing are starting to dominate.  On top of that, we are now better able to use technology to make very specific (small scale) manufacturing cost effective for the majority of products.  And finally, a significant portion of the economy is now purely digital, meaning: it isn’t consumed by use.
There is a saying that a smile is something you can give away freely and never have less of.  This is what we are approaching with an economy based on digital use without consumption.  The trick will be the distribution of wealth and opportunity for economic advancement.  It will be a disgrace to see race rather than ability as the determinant factor in distribution.
The book is a terrific thought provoking read and I highly recommend it!
Finding this book was pure serendipity.  A co-worker is also an avid reader and she brings in books and just leaves them for anyone who wants to take and read them.  I was walking along the bookself and there it was…
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