For forty years, he has been the Quiet Man of the NBA. As a rookie, he was overshadowed by two pretty fair guards who entered the league at the same time: Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. As a veteran, he was—both figuratively and literally—a coach on the floor, but he had the misfortune to play for several struggling teams. As a general manager, he won a championship and made back-to-back Finals appearances—but he did it without superstars, a year before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird revitalized the league. And as a coach, he has won more games than anyone in NBA history—but spent his best years locked in the same division as Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
Basketball connoisseurs have long appreciated the style and intelligence with which Lenny Wilkens played and the unflappability and class he's brought to coaching. The respect he has earned resulted in his joining the legendary John Wooden as the only men to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame twice—first as a player, and then as a coach.
Now, in Unguarded, Lenny Wilkens steps out from behind his placid demeanor to speak plainly and unequivocally on the enormous social and athletic changes he's seen in his career.
Wilkens sounds off about the challenges he had to overcome in the course of his journey: the racism that left him off the 1960 Olympic basketball team and kept him from being chosen as head coach of the first Dream Team; the fatal miscalculation that kept his Cleveland Cavaliers from getting past Michael Jordan to the NBA Finals; the painful, frustrating task of coaching a troubled and troublesome J.R. Rider, a player who contributed to his departure from Atlanta. And he credits those who went out of their way to help him: the priests and nuns who taught him the value of discipline and reinforced his faith; the coaches who pushed him to develop his talents to the fullest; the selfless players such as John Johnson, Hot Rod Williams, Larry Nance, Steve Smith, and many others who sacrificed individual glory for the good of their teams; his mother, Henrietta, and his wife, Marilyn, who stood beside him in many trying times.
“My goal is not to convert anyone reading the paper," Terry writes. "It is to make them think, and to bring some comfort. I write for people who are struggling with faith, or people in pain—physical or emotional. My job is to give them a voice, and to talk about the kind of faith we need to get through what life throws at us each day.”
Terry already had a dream job: getting paid to write about sports for a daily newspaper. But when the opportunity arose to write about more spiritual topics, he embraced the challenge. Readers are glad he did. His “Faith and You” column now regularly touches the lives of thousands of loyal readers.
Terry writes for people who aren’t always confident in their beliefs but know faith is still important to them . . . For people who sometimes get mad at their church or disagree with their pastor yet don’t want to lose the spiritual side of their lives . . . For people of different faiths or backgrounds or who aren’t even sure they’re religious. These essays don’t claim to have all the answers. But the questions they raise give readers something to think about all week.
Fans felt gut-punched in 2010 when local hero and MVP LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cavaliers and Northeast Ohio for Miami. The Cavs nose-dived in the standings and struggled to recover.
Then, in June 2014, LeBron announced he was coming home. And he had a mission: Lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals and give Cleveland its first championship in 52 years.
But would LeBron’s return be enough to restore his reputation, revive the franchise, and reward long-suffering Cleveland fans?
Award-winning sportswriter Terry Pluto tells how it all happened.
How LeBron won back fans with a heartfelt message — and savvy PR . . .
How the Cavs’ front office crafted a championship-caliber team with a big three of James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love and a bench stocked not only with talent but character and chemistry . . .
How LeBron’s added experience from four seasons and two titles in Miami prepared him for this second chance in Cleveland . . .
How the Cavaliers reached the 2016 NBA Finals to face a Golden State Warriors team, led by MVP Stephen Curry, that had just set an NBA record for wins and had vanquished the Cavs in the Finals the previous season . . .
How LeBron and the Cavs, down a historically hopeless three games to one, sparked an unprecedented come-from-behind surge (symbolized by LeBron’s superhuman block in Game 7) to stun Golden State and bring home the NBA Championship . . .
And how the ecstatic fans joined the team in a joyful celebration that brought more than a million people together in downtown Cleveland.
Pluto tells it all with insightful analysis, extensive front-office details, and a deep empathy for the fans.
Two award-winning sports journalists give an in-depth look at how a team and a city were rebuilt around superstar LeBron James.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers drew the top pick in the 2003 NBA draft, an entire city buzzed with excitement. After all, how often does a LeBron James come along? Especially for Cleveland, a midmarket Rust Belt city without a sports championship in forty years. Especially for the Cavaliers, a long-struggling team that had never reached the NBA finals.
Soon, everyone had something riding on LeBron—billionaire team owner Dan Gilbert looking for a return on his investment . . . teammates eager for a championship ring . . . the league in need of the next Michael Jordan to promote . . . the shoe company with its multimillion-dollar endorsement deal . . . even popcorn vendors in the stands of Quicken Loans Arena and servers waiting restaurant tables in a downtown that now booms every game night.
Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst tell the converging stories of a struggling franchise that had to get worse in order to get better and a highly touted teenage phenom, the local kid who became their future.
This book will fascinate any basketball fan who wants the inside story of how LeBron James became the young superstar shouldering the weight of an entire NBA franchise. Chock full of facts and analysis.
What do Julius Erving, Larry Brown, Moses Malone, Bob Costas, the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Slam Dunk Contest have in common? They all got their professional starts in the American Basketball Association.
The NBA may have won the financial battle, but the ABA won the artistic war. With its stress on wide-open individual play, the adoption of the 3-point shot and pressing defense, and the encouragement of flashy moves and flying dunks, today's NBA is still—decades later —just the ABA without the red, white and blue ball.
Loose Balls is, after all these years, the definitive and most widely respected history of the ABA. It's a wild ride through some of the wackiest, funniest, strangest times ever to hit pro sports—told entirely through the (often incredible) words of those who played, wrote and connived their way through the league's nine seasons.
This book collects dozens of his popular essays about ethical and moral issues we all face in everyday life. Like getting along with our siblings. Setting a better example for our children. Listening better to our spouses. How money makes us do silly things. The lure of gossip. Feeling lonely. Giving in to anger. How we feel when our prayers go unanswered.
Pluto writes from a very personal perspective, as when he discusses the vanity of his own approach to baldness, or reveals white lies he has used to make himself feel better, or describes the temptation to tell off his boss at work. This honestly humble approach to finding the spiritual in the ordinary gives Pluto’s writing broad appeal.
“I don’t care if you’re a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, or a skeptic; there is a spiritual thirst in most of us,” Pluto says. “I try to write about God and us and what that means for our lives.”
For a sportswriter who never thought he’d write about faith, Pluto has brought a great deal of meaning to the lives of his readers. This collection will serve as a great way for Pluto fans to revisit the many inspirations found in his writing—and to share them with a new audience.
That’s the kind of response Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto draws from devoted readers of his faith column. Although best known as an award-winning sportswriter, Pluto has also earned a reputation—and a growing audience—for his down-to-earth musings on more spiritual subjects.
This followup to his first collection, “Everyday Faith,” offers 28 all-new thoughtful essays on faith in everyday life—practical topics such as choosing a church, lending money to friends, dealing with jerks, sharing your faith, visiting the sick, even planning a funeral.
Perhaps it’s because Pluto doesn’t claim to have the answers that so many readers are drawn to his writing.
“Real faith writing should be about real life,” Pluto says. “I write as much about my failures as my triumphs, because that is what a life of faith is about. It’s often as much suffering as celebration, with lots of mundane, everyday stuff in between. I write for people who may have been hurt by someone in church, people who have been discouraged by one who claimed to speak for God . . . I write for people who have found contentment in their faith but want a deeper relationship with God.”
Here's a question for any Browns fan: Why?
Why, more than four long decades after your team's last championship . . . despite a relentless pattern of heartbreak, teasing, and more heartbreak . . . capped with a decade of utter futility . . . do you still stick with the Cleveland Browns?
Veteran sportswriter Terry Pluto gets a daily barrage of email from fans letting their hearts bleed out orange and brown. So he decided to ask his readers: Just what is it about this team that makes you love them, hate them, and still keep coming back for more?
A thousand fans responded--in detail. Their stories--along with interviews with former players and Pluto's own expert analysis--deliver the answer. Answers, actually. Because like any intense relationship, it's a little complicated . . .
Covering the Browns from 1964 through present day, this book does for Cleveland football what Pluto's classic about the Indians, The Curse of Rocky Colavito, did for Cleveland baseball: It won't make the pain go away, but it might help you remember why it's worth enduring.