Kingdom on Fire: Kareem, Wooden, Walton, and the Turbulent Days of the UCLA Basketball Dynasty (Hardcover)
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In the tradition of Blood in the Garden and Three-Ring Circus comes a bold narrative history of the iconic UCLA Bruins championship teams led by legendary coach John Wooden—an incredible true story about the messy, never-easy pursuit of perfection set against the turmoil of American culture in the 1960s and 70s.
Few basketball dynasties have reigned supreme like the UCLA Bruins did over college basketball from 1965–1975 (seven consecutive titles, three perfect records, an eighty-eight-game winning streak that remains unmatched). At the center of this legendary franchise were the now-iconic players Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton, naturally reserved personalities who became outspoken giants when it came to race and the Vietnam War. These generational talents were led by John Wooden, a conservative counterweight to his star players whose leadership skills would transcend the game after his retirement. But before the three of them became history, they would have to make it—together.
Los Angeles native and longtime sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, Scott Howard Cooper draws on more than a hundred interviews and extensive access to many of the principal figures, including Wooden’s family to deliver a rich narrative that reveals the turmoil at the heart of this storied college basketball program. Making the eye-opening connections between UCLA and the Nixon administration, Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, and others, Kingdom on Fire puts the UCLA basketball team’s political involvement and influence in full relief for the first time. The story of UCLA basketball is an incredible slice of American history that reveals what it truly takes to achieve and sustain greatness while standing up for what you believe in.
About the Author
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered professional and college sports since the 1980s for some of the most prominent outlets in the country, including the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and more. His work has earned multiple national awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Professional Basketball Writers Association for projects, game coverage, features, and columns. He graduated from USC with a degree in political science and lives in northern California.
“Howard-Cooper elegantly weaves together sports, political, and cultural history, presenting a trenchant portrait of college basketball’s most successful dynasty against the backdrop of a country wracked by political upheaval. Perceptive and exciting, this is a slam dunk for college hoops fans.” —Publishers Weekly