Book Review: Valvano

valvano

Valvano:

They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead.

Valvano goes from pretty much day 1 of his coaching to his move to ABC sports. He hits his young life, his playing carrer at Rutgers and almost every coaching stop he went to, and why he left. It was kind of interesting to read about his patch, but of course he c concentrates  on NC State, since that is mostly what we are here for. I would have liked more on Ruland, since that is a player that seemingly everyone thought was going to be a monster. Its amazing how much of almost a mythic figure Ruland was, Its one of those guys that you wonder if he died would be on the same level as Benji and Len Bias,. I would have liked more about this last trio, Rodney Monroe – who should have been a better pro, Chucky Brown, who I must have a hundred of his upper Deck Cards- I must have gotten one out of every pack to torture me, and Chris Corchiani, who is notable only for being the white Guard on the Mavericks on the original NBA JAM.

valvano quoteValvano  does a fantastic job of moving along the narrative that his his rise and fall at NC State, and while I hated him as a coach, – being a Carolina Fan- it was hard to really hate the guy after his 1983 title winning season. Dean Smith having finally gotten his title the year before, standing there in that “Been Here Before” attitude, to see a coach act like a madman, and beating the team that was expected to drop 200 on them.

Chapter 14 is where the book really shines. Valvano goes almost day by day on his fall from NC State. Valvano is able to pretty much name names with the security of his ABC sports deal and the knowledge that he could care less about getting into coaching. Its kind of nice, to be honest for a coach that got robbed- and if a THIRD of Chapter 14 is true, he got screwed- to be able to say, this person told me this, and this is what happened next. I don’t know if Valvano keeps a diary, or is his memory just that good. He did go to Rutgers after all.

Let me give you two quick examples.

Monday August 7

The Faculty Senate announced that, while their committee had found no academic abuses, if abuses had occurred the faculty would be too blame. They absolved themselves of any responsibility, inasmuch as athletics were so enormous and the faculty was under such constant pressure to make sure the kids didn’t foul up.

Neat trick guys- the faculty has nothing to do with academics!

Wednesday August 9

Barbara Bain, an English professor, said she was pressured to help a freshman basketball player who was flunking her course.

Well he went ahead and flunked anyway. Must have been terrific pressure.

While numbered chapter 14, its actually about the last third of the book. Valvano name drops quite a few coaches that some might recognize, and you might know them all, if you have been watching basketball on the East Coast for the past 30 years. Valvano pulls almost no punches, and while he won’t name players all the time, he does enough to support his arguments in certain circles.

valvano winThe only bad thing I can really say about this book is how lilly-white he thinks his part of the downfall of NC State is- Valvano did nothing wrong, it was all the university screwing him over. Valvano is perfect, everyone else didn’t do what he said. The two charges that stuck to the program, selling of tickets and shoes, he had an easy fix for, and he does admit that he should have put policy in place before it came to this. One thing stands out; How much the News and Observer went after Valvano. Considering how light the infractions really were, and how many problems NC State has had post-Valvano, I wonder if the powers that be think its worth it? I have to think a coach like Valvano had to be good for a circulation of a paper, and the book that caused the fall. Personal Fouls – The Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams of Big Money Basketball by Peter Golenbock; Valvano takes time to utter crush this book, and to be honest, simple errors in this book pretty much kills its credibility.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Valvano comes across as the likeable Italian that he was to everyone who knew him personally, or saw him giving one of the best speeches in my lifetime at the first ESPYs. He comes across as you would expect. I can’t say that I have changed my opinion of the man, it just kind of reinforces what I felt about him before. Just like during his speech he laughs at the man trying to get him to stop talking and called him out, here he laughs at NC State who tried to get him to stop coaching and he calls them out on it.

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