Woods has won big and lost bigger, and not just on the green, and he probably merits a more insightful book—though Haney...

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THE BIG MISS

MY YEARS COACHING TIGER WOODS

An insider’s look at a champion’s rise and fall.

There’s something both profoundly sad and profoundly satisfying about watching a former spouse, partner or friend crumble. So it is with Haney, host of the Golf Channel show The Haney Project, who opens with a vignette of standing 10 feet from his student Tiger Woods at the 2010 Masters and getting—well, nothing except blown off. “He’s become less of a golfer,” Haney concludes, “and he’s never going to be the same again.” As well known now for personal scandal and strange shortcomings as for a particularly brilliant approach to the game of golf, Woods emerges here as a mercurial, difficult character who meets discipline with indiscipline and genius with mulishness. Over the years, Haney corrected strokes and stances, taught the geography of the course, and issued pointed critiques. All this will be meaningful to golf aficionados, though the big news for less tee-crazed types comes with Woods’ apparent efforts to become a Navy SEAL and leave golf behind. “There is a strong likelihood,” writes Haney portentously, “that a Kill House is where Tiger did serious damage to his career.” Read the book for details of said Kill House, but be warned that the indifferently written narrative is stocked with standard sports clichés, though full of junkie-pleasing stats—e.g., “In nine official events on the 2011 PGA Tour, Tiger hit only 48.9 percent of his fairways, a career-low number in driving accuracy that ranked him 186th on the tour.”

Woods has won big and lost bigger, and not just on the green, and he probably merits a more insightful book—though Haney does provide some good tips for would-be pros.

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-98598-9

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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