Archive for the ‘WRS Book Reviews’ Category

WRS Book Review – “Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions From Center Court”

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

by Jon Carroll





Image via

Image via

I remember the reign of the Fab Five as if it just happened.  The baggy shorts, the black Nike socks with the matching black Air Max Barkleys, and most importantly, the trash talk.  I was not a baller, but I, like many was drawn to this collection of five freshmen because of the brashness and flair with which they played together.  They were the type of team I imagined myself playing on had basketball been my gift.  In the aftermath of their careers as players, I have become a fan of Jalen Rose in particular because of his podcast, but also because of his work founding the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA).  When he started hitting media outlets to promote his book Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions From Center Court, I downloaded it as soon as I could and devoured it in two days.

Jalen Rose & "Fab Five" brother Chris Webber

Jalen Rose & “Fab Five” brother Chris Webber

As someone who is a regular listener to the Jalen and Jacoby podcast and now radio show, much of the material covered in the book was not new.  However, there was ample context to help understand the lens that focuses Rose’s worldview.  From the detailed account of his key family relationships to the motivating force that was Jalen’s absent father, the reader is given a deeper understanding of why the retired NBA star viewed Michigan and the NCAA skeptically during his time on campus.  For those who watched the ESPN30 for 30 documentary Fab Five and cringed as Rose and his former teammates recalled calling Black Duke players “Uncle Toms”, the text gives greater insight into why they did it and why they had no shame in doing so.  Of course, given recent headlines, Rose spends significant time detailing his fractured relationship with childhood friend and Fab Five brother, Chris Webber.  It’s a sad story, but a real one and it would not have been a Give the people what they want text without it.    The same can be said for how Rose opens up and talk about other parts of his life.

When I read autobiographical texts, I am always looking to see how much the author is willing to look inside and expose the bad and the ugly along with the good.  Mr. Rose’s text rates at an 8 on a 1-10 scale.  He lamented not being able to be the type of present father that he hoped to be.  As much as it is nice to be able to provide, he demonstrated awareness that the presence cannot be replaced.  He also recounts having to go to jail on a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and how sobering that was.  These stories and others helped humanize Rose over the course of the book so that there is substance behind the flagrant opinions and hot takes, which you may or may not agree with.  I definitely recommend picking this book up if you are at all a fan of basketball.  The insight that Mr. Rose has is truly unique and made for a quick enjoyable read.


Jon Carroll, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review – Sugar Ray Leonard: The Big Fight

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

by Jimmy Williams

JW Blog






I always find it amusing when people judge an athlete’s performance based on how they feel about them as a person.  I mean I get it, but it still makes no sense.   You can be a horrible human being and allegedly kill your ex-wife and her friend, get acquitted, and later be sent to prison for robbing someone of your own belongings.  That does not mean you were not one hell of a running back.  What does that have to do with Sugar Ray Leonard and his book you ask?  Well before reading this book I had a picture of Sugar Ray that has completely changed. Before starting this book I always looked at Ray Leonard (I’m not going to keep calling that man Sugar, Yo!) as a member of the Abnegation faction but now I see him as a member of the Dauntless faction.  If you’ve never read the Divergent books or seen the movie, that last sentence will make no sense to you; but if you have, you will recognize my genius.

I’ve read a lot of athletes’ memoirs and boxers seem to be the most transparent and have the most interesting stories.  Then again, someone who makes a living trying to hurt another human being while also taking punishment from said human being has got to be off their rocker to begin with.  Mike Tyson has set the bar in terms of being transparent and having an amazing story, so Ray Leonard’s book had a lot to live up to.  Although Ray Leonard’s book was released first, I read the Tyson book first.  This is no Tyson story but it is interesting in its own way (S/O to Todd Bridges for inspiring Ray Leonard to tell his story).  I grew up in the Tyson era so I knew of many of his hardships and troubles.  My opinion of Ray Leonard before this book was of someone who was articulate, athletic, marketable, a nice guy who happened to be a pugilist specialist (No Bosh).  My brother B. Austin believes that Ray Leonard is overrated in terms of his boxing ability and I’ve always disagreed.  One thing we’ve always agreed on is his image.  That image has been shattered by his honesty in this book where he speaks about faking blackouts to make weight, sexual assault, drug abuse, and his obsession with finding “talent” in various cities for the purpose of fornication.  A lot of time is spent discussing how he disrespected his first wife and how he was addicted to intercourse with all types of women.  Don’t get me wrong, all men love yoni (unless you live an alternative lifestyle, and if you do, God bless you) but boxers seem to be bigger addicts then most of us.

There are also parts of this book that make you appreciate Ray Leonard as a pugilist.  It’s obvious how serious he took his sport and how he strategized before fights.  It’s also great to hear the respect he has for his fellow boxers, especially the men with whom he had his classic bouts.  Another part of the book that made me appreciate Ray Leonard the athlete was how serious he took self-improvement and wanting to be a well-rounded person.  He worked on his speech and image.  He also talked about how many Blacks considered him a “sell-out” because he was well spoken.  I can relate to that.  Many of us have self-hatred that goes back to slavery and how systematically we were made to see ourselves as inferior (I won’t get into that now).  I remember I was once called spoiled because I knew who both of my parents were (WTF?).

After reading this, I have a completely different idea of who Ray Leonard is/was. I respect him for being open and honest about his life even though he doesn’t come off as the good guy at all.  We live in a world where everyone is judgmental and wants to hold people to higher moral standards than we do ourselves.  I’ve also read athletes’ biographies where they talk about their life as if they did no wrong and they are the perfect person (S/O to Shaq), and we all know that’s unrealistic and a bunch of cow dung.  I would recommend this book to all sports fans, especially people who are fans of the “sweet science”.   Ray Leonard may not be the man he was marketed to be but he is brutally honest and maybe someone can learn something from his story.  I doubt it though, because “The Nookie” has been making men do stupid things since the beginning of time, and some things never change.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: “Wilt: Larger Than Life”

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

by Jimmy Williams







wilt book


The great John Wooden once said, “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability”.  As a person who loves great quotes (Just go to any social media site and look up #Jimspiration), this quote always comes to mind when discussing two NBA players.  These two players are Wilton Norman Chamberlain and Shaquille Rashaun O’neal.  These legendary giants of the game seemed to be judged on a curve when it comes to their legacy.

As a native Philadelphian I can attest to the many stories passed down from generations about Wilt as not only a great basketball player but as a great overall athlete and lover.  In fact these stories are so beyond belief that my brother B. Austin says “Wilt never existed because his feats just aren’t possible.”  The legendary Philadelphia basketball icon Sonny Hill just looks at what Wilt has done and says “No Human Being Can Do That!”.

Wilt was a polarizing figure and this book gives details as to why he was and remains that way. The book also does a tremendous job of providing context.  Many Wilt detractors look at his lack of success (or should I say his TEAMS’ lack of success) against Bill Russell and the great Boston Celtics teams of that era and label Wilt a loser or act as if he was a selfish player who played against inferior talent.  Both of those assessments would be incorrect.  People tend to make judgments based on bad information that is just spewed over and over, or they speak on facts without giving context.  This book goes through each series and gives context to Wilt the player as well as context to Wilt the ladies’ man.  Many players of his day hated Wilt because of his success in hoops, financially, and with the ladies.  They were upset Wilt got to practice “Yam Farming” while they lived the life of an uxorious man.  Speaking facts without context is sometimes deplorable.  The Sixers just finished the 2014 season by beating the Miami Heat and I actually heard a Sixers fan bragging about beating the Heat.  Well let’s give that game context.  LeBron nor Bosh played.  Now was that game really something to brag about after the season the team had?  Yet when you look back 30 years from now all you will see is a W in the column for the Sixers.  This is what I mean by context.  And for you Sixers fans bragging about that win, I hate you more than Joffrey Baratheon.  You bragging about beating the Heat without their best players is the equivalent of a man bragging about sleeping with a beautiful woman that gave him A.I.D.S.  Maybe that’s extreme but you get the point.

This book does a great job of painting a picture of Wilt the athlete and also Wilt Chamberlain the man.  What I appreciated most about the book was it seemed to be fair but also critical.  Sometimes biographies on star athletes read like a blumpkin in the narrative.  I would definitely recommend this book, especially for anyone who loves the history of hoops.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: Shaq Uncut

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

by Jimmy Williams







Shaq Uncut


As a huge fan of basketball aka “This Thing of Ours”, Shaquille Rashaun O’neal aka Shaq, aka The Big Aristotle, aka Wilt Chamberneezy has always been a larger than life figure (No Skittles).  Since first watching him dominate at LSU, Shaq has always been a polarizing figure. This is not just because of his game or size (Naw), but he was always full of personality.  Shaq has always been an entertaining celebrity and he delivers in this book. Now because I’ve read so many biographies I must admit this isn’t a great book but it has many great stories. What is missing from this book is transparency.

Now I don’t personally know Shaq but I know he is human (at least I think he is), and as a human being we all go through struggles. One of the great things about reading biographies of great athletes is a chance to get a look at not only their triumphs but also their tragedies. I’m not saying Shaq should have given us a chapter on “Superhead” (although I would have enjoyed it) but this read more like a commercial for how great Shaq was/is. Shaq did give us insight into the relationship with his step father which I found amazing but overall I’m left feeling like there are many stories which would have given us a better idea of who Shaq is, that were left out.

The stories of the various games Shaq played at every level are amazing. I might overrate the book because of them. What was missing about his personal life is made up by great stories of games and championship runs.

This book was a good read primarily due to the basketball stories but it gets comical at times because it really reads like a commercial for the Shaquille O’Neal brand and not a biography. Maybe I am being too harsh because I have read so many biographies on athletes who are open and honest about their demons, so I have come to expect a lot of “Worldstar” moments. The great thing is Shaq is still creating his legacy and building his brand these days, so maybe in the future we will get another book with some “Worldstar” moments, or at least a chapter on “Superhead”.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: Dr. J: The Autobiography

Friday, January 24th, 2014

by Jimmy Williams







dr j.


“There ain’t no back in the day Nicca…Ain’t no nostalgia to this sh*t here. There’s just the street and the game and what happen here today.”   – Melvin ‘Cheese’ Wagstaff


When talking hoops with people these days, it’s sad because the legends of the past are often forgotten.  And that’s the case when talking professional ball or street-ball.  You watch TV and you would think that the game was played by only Magic & Bird in the 80’s, followed by Jordan in the 90’s.  Growing up in Philadelphia I know better.  One of the most popular figures of my childhood was Julius “Dr. J” Erving.  He was larger than life in the city.  He was also a legend in street-ball.   Most of the older men in my neighborhood wanted to be him and all of the older ladies would have given him their love canal if they had the chance.  Not only was he considered a great ball player but he has always been considered someone who carried himself with class.

The great thing about biographies is the chance to hear stories and learn details about someone’s life you had no knowledge of.   The Doc was an amazing ball player and he did carry himself with class but he was far from perfect.  This book is not only filled with amazing stories of legendary games and players but it also talks about his shortcomings and his personal struggles.  If you are a hoops fan and love the history of the game, this is a must-read.  The stories of playing one on one with Pistol Pete and George Gervin are amazing.  His relationship and thoughts on other legends such as Kareem and Bill Russell are also great.  There are also stories of Moses, Barkley, Magic, Bird, and many more.

Much was made of his story of fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife.  Not because he cheated but because in the words of Jadakiss, “It’s no way she gonna have a baby out of her mouth”.  Doc said she only became pregnant because she couldn’t give him a twirly due to getting braces and they had “traditional” sex only one time.  Now when I first heard about that excerpt I laughed and said, “damn, Doc was foul for talking about the mother of his child that way”.  When reading what he said and putting it into context, it doesn’t come off the same.  Don’t get me wrong, Doc is still a creep, but he was being honest and transparent when telling his story.

As a hoops fan and one who loves the history of the game, this book was amazing.  I may overrate it based on the fact that I’m a hoops junkie.  This was a great story that dealt with race, poverty, basketball, business, family, and making love to a lot of women.  That will always be a recipe for a great book in my opinion.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: Phil Jackson – Eleven Rings

Friday, December 13th, 2013

by Jimmy Williams







11 Rings



Part Basketball, Part Management, & Part Leadership

Last time I wrote a review I had just finished my 37th book. Well yesterday I just finished my 42nd book of the year and I’m 81% at my goal of 52 books this year. Yes I’m still bragging but I need to step it up, considering I’m 14% behind schedule.  Yes, I have a thing for meaningless data (judge ya mother).  At any rate, let’s talk about the Phil Jackson book, “11 Rings”.

Good quick read. The book is as different look at all 11 championship runs presided over by Phil Jackson. It always amazes me at how much preparation, energy, and thought go into a single game or series. This book shows how mental the game of basketball is. This is refreshing these days, considering our country celebrates mediocrity and stupidity (don’t believe me, watch TV).  It is also interesting to see his perspective on players like Jordan, Pippen, Kobe, and Shaq.  His ability to find various ways to motivate each player on his teams is what allowed him to have the success he had.  Many look at Phil’s accomplishments and give them the Stuart Scott crooked eye because he had very talented teams.  There isn’t one successful coach in any sport who won at a high level without talent, so FOH.  Phil Jackson is the greatest coach of my generation and in my personal opinion, Phil Jackson has the best books when it comes to coaches. The reason for this is because his books are part sports stories, part self- improvement, and part management & leadership. This book is no different.  Many will feel I enjoyed this book because I’m a Lakers fan, and part of that may be true, as it is good to hear the stories behind the great Laker teams.  I also believe you will enjoy this book if you are not a fan of Phil, the Lakers, the Bulls, or even basketball.  His philosophies and mental approach to a child’s game make this book that interesting.


Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: Mike Tyson – Undisputed Truth

Friday, December 6th, 2013

by Jimmy Williams

I have read many books this year.  In fact this is the 37th book I’ve read.  I know people who have read more but most people I know haven’t read nearly as many.  And yes I’m bragging because I take pride in my reading, because Jadakiss was right about you Libyans. At any rate I bring up the fact that I’ve read so many books just to say this was the most entertaining book I have read this year, BAR NONE.

I could not stop reading once I started.  This book was depressing, inspirational, hilarious, insightful, and tragic.  I’ve read many biographies and none have been this honest and transparent.  The stories of his upbringing and his relationship with his mother were hard to read, but also makes his journey more understandable.

My friends and I grew up during the “Tyson Era” and he was damn near a super hero to us, whose story had a tragic ending, until recently.  One of the reasons we love YouTube so much is because it was a place where we could watch and relive the old Tyson interviews and press conferences, and damn near die from laughter when he seemed out of his mind and would say the most random things.  Now I have more insight into why he said some of the things he did (even though there is no excuse for some of the craziness he’s spoken).  His knowledge on the history of boxing is impressive, and his ability to be completely out of control but also be self-aware is very interesting as well. Even the epilogue was entertaining, although it read like the ramblings of a bi-polar man having an episode of hypomania.

I could go on and on about specific stories from the book but I don’t want to give anything away.  Just know that regardless of your opinion about Mike Tyson, you will find his story entertaining.

Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports