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The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry
     

The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry

5.0 1
by John Feinstein
 

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The riveting inside story of college basketball's fiercest rivalry among three coaching legends—University of North Carolina's Dean Smith, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, and North Carolina State's Jim Valvano—by the king of college basketball writers, #1 New York Times bestseller John Feinstein

On March 18, 1980, the immensely powerful Duke

Overview

The riveting inside story of college basketball's fiercest rivalry among three coaching legends—University of North Carolina's Dean Smith, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, and North Carolina State's Jim Valvano—by the king of college basketball writers, #1 New York Times bestseller John Feinstein

On March 18, 1980, the immensely powerful Duke basketball program announced the hiring of its new coach—the man who would resurrect the team, restore glory to Duke, and defeat the legendary Dean Smith, who coached down the road at UNC Chapel Hill and had turned UNC into a powerhouse. Duke's new man was Mike Krzyzewski. The only problem was, no one knew who Krzyzewski was, he had a so-so record in his short time as head coach of Army, and worst of all, no one could even pronounce his name. The announcement caused head scratches . . . if not immediate calls for his head . . . and on this note his career at Duke began.
     The table was set nine days later, when on March 27, 1980, Jim Valvano was hired by North Carolina State to be their new head coach. The hiring didn't raise as many eyebrows, but with the exuberant Valvano on board, two new coaches were now in place to challenge Dean Smith—and the most sensational competitive decade in history was about to unfold.
     In the skillful hands of John Feinstein, this extraordinary rivalry—and the men behind it—come to life in a unique, intimate way. The Legends Club is a sports book that captures an era in American sport and culture, documenting the inside view of a decade of absolutely incredible competition. Feinstein pulls back the curtain on the recruiting wars, the intensely personal competition that wasn't always friendly, the enormous pressure and national stakes, and the battle for the very soul of college basketball allegiance in a hot-bed area. Getting to the roots of the NCAA goliath that is followed religiously by millions of fans today, Feinstein uses his unprecedented access to all three coaches to paint a portrait only he could conjure. The Legends Club is destined to be one of Feinstein's biggest bestsellers.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 03/01/2016
Sportswriter Feinstein (Where Nobody Knows Your Name) explores the rivalry and relationship among three coaches—University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Dean Smith, North Carolina State University's Jim Valvano, and Duke University's Mike Krzyzewski—both on and off the court. Extensively researched with interviews from players, colleagues, family, and Krzyzewski himself, the book traces how these legendary coaches led their teams to eight NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) championships, highlighting winning seasons, major games, milestones, and iconic plays. The author points out each coach's triumphs as well as their defeats. For example, Krzyzewski met early criticism at Duke as the team struggled to win games, while an academic scandal and NCAA investigation resulted in Valvano's resignation from North Carolina State. The heart of the title is the evolution of their relationships: the professional bond between Krzyzweski and Valvano morphed into brotherly love as Valvano battled cancer; and the tense, contemptuous relationship between Krzyzweski and Smith transitioned into one of respect over time. Although Johnny Moore and Art Chansky's The Blue Divide and Joe Menzer's Four Corners have previously covered these Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rivals, Feinstein's volume adds depth to these coaches that extends beyond games and recruiting. VERDICT A must for college basketball history fans, especially those fascinated by the ACC.
Kirkus Reviews
2016-01-18
A veteran sportswriter returns with an account of the basketball wars—on- and off-court—among three iconic coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Feinstein (Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, 2014, etc.), who also writes columns (Washington Post, Golf Digest) and appears on broadcasts of sporting events, proceeds more or less chronologically from 1980, when Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski began his career at Duke University and Jim Valvano began at North Carolina State. The author charts the rises and falls of the three teams—Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State—and, eventually, the deaths of two of his principals—Valvano in 1993 and UNC coach Dean Smith in 2015. Feinstein's affection for the three is patent throughout, no more so than in his accounts of the deaths of the two late coaches. But he can barely restrain his admiration (and fondness) for Krzyzewski, whose accomplishments he chronicles with almost a family member's devotion. (In the acknowledgements, the author notes his close friendship with Coach K.) Feinstein goes into detail about some key games, delves into the biographies of some of the players, and generally becomes swept away at times by the tidal power of his own affections—perhaps most evidently (and excessively) in his clichéd final sentence that claims that the stories of these three "will undoubtedly live forever." To his credit, the author informs his narrative with myriads of interviews with all of his principals—and with those who have survived them—and enriches all with his deep knowledge and love of the game. He navigates through the murky waters of recruiting and explains how certain rules have affected the game—e.g., the 45-second shot clock, the fairly recent NBA ruling that forbids young men to enter the draft right out of high school. A text that will delight college basketball fans but also raises tacit questions about the effects of big-time athletics on a university's academic mission.
From the Publisher
"The book is one of [John Feinstein's] best, a beguilingly personal, sometimes heartbreaking look at the psychic cost of doing battle in America’s most brutally, nakedly competitive (and actual) arenas. It makes a fitting bookend to the author’s first, “A Season on the Brink” (1986), his hair-raising exposé of Indiana coach Bobby Knight, expletives included."
—The Wall Street Journal

"A compelling story of the complex relationships and backyard rivalries of the three coaches who dominated college basketball during the 1980s and early ’90s...Feinstein’s relationship with all three coaches gave him the intimate details that form the backbone of the book. One story leads quickly to another story in this fast-moving account of a memorable era in college basketball. Dating back to Feinstein’s first interview with Smith, this book was nearly 40 years in the making. It was worth the wait, because it is one of Feinstein’s best."
Chicago Tribune

"Feinstein entertains readers with fair, objective observations based on fact and his unique inside access gained not only through years of his coverage but also through many new interviews with former players, coaches and administrators...In a famous speech before he died, Valvano implored all of us to attempt to do three things each day: laugh, think and cry. He would be pleased with “The Legends Club” because it will evoke all three from readers, no matter where their college basketball allegiances lie."
—The Washington Post 

"The legends are right there in the subtitle: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry. The unbilled fourth legend is the author. His longstanding relationships with the principals give the book its insider appeal; his history with each man goes back decades, and the intersecting, layered looks at each are built on firsthand knowledge...Funny and smart."
—USA Today

"Duke, UNC and N.C. State fans might quibble about the details, as they always do, Feinstein faithfully captures a rivalry that will remain a legend in sports."
—BookPage

“Fascinating. . . . The book is crammed with enough minutia and fresh anecdotes about the three competing coaches to satisfy any basketball junkie.”
Lincoln Journal Star 
 
“The author informs his narrative with myriads of interviews with all of his principals—and with those who have survived them—and enriches all with his deep knowledge and love of the game. He navigates through the murky waters of recruiting and explains how certain rules have affected the game—e.g., the 45-second shot clock, the fairly recent NBA ruling that forbids young men to enter the draft right out of high school. A text that will delight college basketball fans.”
Kirkus
 
“Feinstein’s long history with these coaches gives him intimate knowledge of his subjects, allowing him to provide an insider’s perspective that likely will be new even to ACC aficionados.”
Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385539418
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/01/2016
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
8,856
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

JOHN FEINSTEIN is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the classics sports books A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled, along with many other bestsellers. He is also a columnist for The Washington Post, Golf World, and Golf Digest. He is a contributor to the Golf Channel, and is an essayist for CBS Sports Television.

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The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
CEW67 More than 1 year ago
Feinstein weaves the stories of basketball in the ACC in a way that takes you back and lets you in on all the secrets from your favorite games. Growing up in the 80s and living in the South, the basketball phenomena of Duke, State, and Carolina loom large every season. If anything, I wish he would have expanded to include more about the other great coaches in the conference --- the absolute competitiveness that has driven more than one coach to another conference. This book is a must read for any real basketball fan, for anyone who wants to know what hard work really is.