Q and A: How former UCLA baseball coach Gary Adams found John Wooden not just sharing his office, but his passion for the game

smallWooden Back CoverGary Adams has two baseballs in his collection autographed by John Wooden, one of which is on the back cover of his new book.

“Just look at that penmanship,” marveled Adams, UCLA’s baseball coach for 30 seasons before retiring to Bear Valley Springs in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County in 2004. “He used to say you could put the NBA 24-second shot clock on him when he was asked to sign a basketball, but he needed the college’s 35-second shot clock when it came to signing a baseball. That certainly is a prized possession.”

9781595800763_p0_v1_s600Why the 74-year-old Adams would continue to cherish such a small token given to him by the legendary UCLA basketball coach speaks more to a 36-year relationship they started when they shared an office space on Westwood campus for eight years that many may not have known about.

Adams, who played baseball at UCLA from 1959-62, was hired by athletic director J.D. Morgan as the Bruins’ coach in 1975. That was also Wooden’s final season, capped by the last of his 10 NCAA championships.

Morgan wanted Wooden to keep an office at the athletic department, and asked Adams if he wouldn’t mind having a rather high-profile bunkmate.

“When I tell people the story of how J.D. asked this, I say, ‘Well, I’ll have to think about it and get back to you’,” Adams says before laughing.

Adams2-2004As it turned out, Wooden made the request to give incoming basketball coach Gene Bartow his own space, and Wooden’s desire to hole up with Adams came from of his unrequited love of baseball.

And as the friendship grew, and the conversations continued, inevitably things would circle back to, of all things, baseball.

Adams’ new book, “Conversations With Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes and Life” (Santa Monica Press, 439 pages, $24.95) reflects more on just the lessons learned by being in the presence of Wooden, who died at age 99 three summers ago, but, inspired by his Pyramid of Success, how he eventually created his own little-publicized Sphere of Commitment as a guide for his players in the late ‘90s.

QUESTION: This isn’t the first book, nor will it likely be the last, about John Wooden and the impact he had on someone’s life. Do you find yourself learning something new from those written before your book? Continue reading

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It’s Out of the Question: Magic, where art those pro-Mattingly tweets?

Magic Johnson and  Don Mattingly chat before a game last season.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Magic Johnson and Don Mattingly chat before a game last season. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

The question surrounding if, when, why and how Don Mattingly will lose his prime leaning spot on the Dodgers dugout railing all go back to how decisions really are made in this gaggle of Guggenheimers that include money man Mark Walters, sound-bite Stan Kasten, some other Hollywood hanger-ons, and . . . .

magic_tshirt250x265Oh, that guy they’re honoring next week with a “Magic Johnson-themed” T-shirt giveaway, in hopes it might entice more customers to an otherwise off-the-radar Dodgers-Angels series contest.

No need to jog our memory of Magic’s history with coaching changes. Back in ’81, he soon tired of the person in charge got Paul Westhead thrown under Jerry Buss’ undercarriage.

With such a coach-killing track record, where’s Magic’s e-voice been lately with any twits of support for Donnie Baseball?

On May 8: “Dodger Nation: I’m disappointed with our slow start but, I still feel we are going to play better and have a good season.”

There’s someone with some real hardball know-how.

You ever think it’s probably best Magic doesn’t go to the mat for Mattingly? Consider his post on May 21: “I’m supporting Wendy Greuel for Mayor of Los Angeles! Don’t forget to get out and vote today!”

How’d that grueling experience turn out again? Continue reading

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Why Kevin Kennedy can pull for Don Mattingly without any misconception of trying to help push him out

Kevin Kennedy managed the Boston Red Sox from 1994-1995, and had his team rebound from an x-xx start to just miss the playoffs.

Kevin Kennedy managed the Boston Red Sox from 1994-1995, and had his team rebound from an 36-49 start his final season to just miss the playoffs with an 85-77 mark.

Let’s be clear about this: Kevin Kennedy isn’t campaigning to be the next manager of the Dodgers.

Can you blame him?

l-46ebf40dbbb6431397a9c80ec57b829ajpg-8e03186ef180fd28_largeThe perspective he has on a day-to-day basis looking down from the Dodgers press box and then having to hop on the air to co-host the “DodgerTalk” postgame show on KLAC-AM 570 gives him an extremely viable platform to do such an underhanded thing.

Instead, imbedded as a media member for the last 14 years since his two stints managing in Texas and Boston came and went, Kennedy isn’t going to grab the mike after watching another Dodgers implosion and say, “If I were managing this team, I would . . .”

“I’m not about that, and I’m not about to go there,” Kennedy said this afternoon. “I have my own ideas and feelings about what a lot of managers do, and I can talk about that sometimes (on his Sirius XM radio show). But on Dodger Talk, if a fan calls in, I let him say his piece and then try to explain it from the other side.

“They’re just seeing the end result, not all the other things that go on before and after, the meeting with the coaches. This is all about teaching the fans. That’s what I love about this job.” Continue reading

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Sunday’s triple header of F1, IRL and NASCAR signature races a first for U.S. TV

Will Buxton, a British motorsports journalist who NBC has hired to help cover Formula One events, said it this week about the famed Monaco Grand Prix:

Monaco-Grand-Prix-1930-poster-1906694“If ever there is a moment at which you became disillusioned with the sport, you are reminded of the majesty and splendor of this incredible sport, it is standing trackside here in Monaco with cars flying past you over 100 mph, inches from your face.
“You can feel the working parts of the engine rise through your feet and your legs, up your spine, draw the breath out of your lungs as they fly past you. This place gives you a buzz for motorsports that nowhere else on earth gives you.”

That’s a legal buzz in Europe, by the way.

Some Americans may feel the same about the IRL’s iconic Indianapolis 500, or NASCAR’s longest race of the year, the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C. Interestingly, if your 3D flatscreen happens to have fume-a-vision, you’ll be able to experience all three of these races Sunday for the first time in one felled sniff.

The NBC Sports Network has added the Monaco Grand Prix live at 4:30 a.m. ESPN’s production of the Indy 500 for ABC follows at 8 a.m. (with the race at 9:15 a.m.). Fox then caps the pre-Memorial Day trifecta with the NASCAR Sprint Cup classic at 2:30 p.m.

And which one will Danica Patrick be in again? Continue reading

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