The Speed Game: My Fast Times in Basketball

Paul Westhead. Univ. of Nebraska, $29.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-49622-260-2
Former NBA coach Westhead, who coached the L.A. Lakers to an NBA championship in 1980, provides a cursory look at his professional life in this underwhelming memoir. Westhead grew up in Philadelphia and became an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s College in 1961. When his boss, Jack McKinney, was hired by the Lakers in 1979, Magic Johnson’s rookie year, he brought Westhead along. Westhead soon became the acting head coach after McKinney suffered a serious injury, and was at the helm when Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought home the title. The championship clinched Westhead the permanent coach position, but due to an early playoff exit in 1981 and criticism from Johnson, Westhead was fired. He subsequently coached in college, the NBA, and the WNBA. Westhead provides exhaustive details on his jobs but is strangely casual when recalling a plan by disgruntled former player Spencer Haywood to have him killed. (“That was the last time I saw Spencer Haywood for several years, until he came to my office at Loyola Marymount to apologize for attempting to have me killed”). Readers won’t get a very good sense of Westhead’s non-professional life, and the overall feel of the work is one of a superficial career overview. Only die-hard hoops fans need apply. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/22/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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