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

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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 basketball program announced the hiring 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.

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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 basketball program announced the hiring 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fred Shaw

    The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry By John Feinstein Kindle Edition 5+ Stars If you like mens’ college basketball you will love this book. You might love it a little more if you are an ACC fan or alum, which I am. It's about 3 of the best coaches in the history of the sport: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski (whom i will refer to as Coach K because I have to look up the spelling each time I write his last name) and Jim Valvano (who is lovingl The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry By John Feinstein Kindle Edition 5+ Stars If you like mens’ college basketball you will love this book. You might love it a little more if you are an ACC fan or alum, which I am. It's about 3 of the best coaches in the history of the sport: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski (whom i will refer to as Coach K because I have to look up the spelling each time I write his last name) and Jim Valvano (who is lovingly referred to as Jimmy V) and their respective teams University of North Carolina (my alma mater), Duke University, and North Carolina State University. The book covers the coaches and players and their their play against each other in conference and nationally from 1980 to 2015. Don't worry there is not a bunch of statistics to bore you, but there is a lot about recruiting styles, game strategy and personal traits of these fine men. There have been great coaches in this sport, but the best, based on their successes are: John Wodden at UCLA with 10 national titles in 12 years, Coach K, 1000+ wins and 5 national titles Bobby Knight with 4 national titles and Dean Smith with 4 and 875+ total wins. Jimmy V would more than likely be ranked there too if cancer had not cut his life short. The ACC is and always has been a tough conference. John Feinstein is one of the top sports writers in the US, and i enjoyed each one of his books I've read. What makes him so good is his knowledge of the sport, the research he does, and mostly because of his personal relationships with the coaches in this case. He is also well versed in all sports and i highly recommend this and any of his work for that matter. What made this book so special, was the way Feinstein gave the reader the behind the scenes look at the rivalry. Coach K and Jimmy V started at Duke and NC State respectively, the same summer of 1980. Dean Smith had been at UNC since 1966 and in the space of 14 years had built a dynasty of recruiting and winning that stil exists to this day. Coach K, a Bobby Knight protege, was the coach at Army and played against Jimmy V at Iona, both schools in New York. When they came south, they had no idea what they were going to encounter with Smith and UNC. There was no way any North Carolina high school basketball player was going to Duke, and even NC State would be a last choice. All the kids wanted to go to Carolina and play for Smith. However, Coach K and Jimmy V would learn how to compete in the conference and eventually exchange wins and losses with Smith and UNC. All three schools are only a few miles apart in North Carolina and rivalry is always intense. To give you an idea, in 3 years, Jimmy V would take his NC State team to the national championship and win. Dean Smith also felt Coach K’s presence and though behind NC State in his ramp up, Coach K was good and a force to be reckoned with. If I don't stop now i will write a book about this book, because it has had a profound impact on me. I have relived some of this rivalry having been there during part of the years discussed. I also have a greater respect for the 3 coaches, who at one time despised each other, but eventually came to love each other.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    I'm a bit rusty in the art of reviewing books right now, and, though this may not mark a triumphant return for me, this read moved me enough to put that aside. John Feinstein is a prolific, and talented sports writer, particularly in the college basketball world. This time last year, with the Madness of March fast-approaching, I read his Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four and found it underwhelming, to say the least. However, I can't help but think that some of that had to do wit I'm a bit rusty in the art of reviewing books right now, and, though this may not mark a triumphant return for me, this read moved me enough to put that aside. John Feinstein is a prolific, and talented sports writer, particularly in the college basketball world. This time last year, with the Madness of March fast-approaching, I read his Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four and found it underwhelming, to say the least. However, I can't help but think that some of that had to do with bits and pieces of this book, The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry , that Feinstein struggled to keep at bay. Why? Because this is the book that Feinstein has been destined to write ever since he first met UNC coach Dean Smith circa 1976, back when Feinstein was an undergrad covering the basketball beat for his cross-town alma mater, Duke. This was a few years before the other members of the eponymous trio, Mike Krzyzewski (aka Coach K), and Jim Valvano , would make their way to North Carolina's Research Triangle, but it's apparent throughout the book, that the seeds of this story run deep for Feinstein. Actually, there are many stories within this grand narrative, which is part of what makes it so difficult to summarize in a meaningful way. With Jim Valvano's untimely death in 1993, Dean Smith's recent passing in 2015, and Coach K's continued presence as head coach of the Blue Devils, it's easy to forget that they were, in fact, contemporaries. Don't worry, I've got pics to prove it: These pictures, of course, fail to capture the nature of their relationships for most of the time: sheer enmity. But, that's what makes this book so special— it captures an arc that we miss when we make "rivalries" out to be all about animosity. And, though there were plenty of moments that were exactly that, a good, legendary rivalry is also built on mutual respect. You don't have to be a die-hard Duke, UNC, or NC State fan to enjoy this one. I've always been more drawn to the March MATHness side of Bracketology, and, frankly, wasn't really a sentient sporting fan for the heyday of the clashes among the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, and Wolfpack. Honestly, as I got a bit misty-eyed toward the end of the story, my thoughts went more to likes of Beowulf than to the Sweet Sixteen (which is not to say that Feinstein neglects the basketball at all— he doesn't). Unless you've been living in an Air-Raid shelter for the past 30 years, I'm not spoiling anything by giving you the parting shots of the victors "cutting down the net" (each a their own time). But, there's no other way for me to close this half-baked review. And I guess one last shot of two GOATs couldn't hurt…

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    In 1980, North Carolina was already established as a legendary basketball program with a legendary coach, Dean Smith. That year, the two biggest rivals of the Tar Heels, Duke and North Carolina State, hired Mike Krzyzweski and Jim Valvano respectively. That led to a decade of intense basketball between these three schools. John Feinstein, considered by many to be one of the best writers of college basketball, captures the spirt of this three-headed rivalry by telling the story of not only the suc In 1980, North Carolina was already established as a legendary basketball program with a legendary coach, Dean Smith. That year, the two biggest rivals of the Tar Heels, Duke and North Carolina State, hired Mike Krzyzweski and Jim Valvano respectively. That led to a decade of intense basketball between these three schools. John Feinstein, considered by many to be one of the best writers of college basketball, captures the spirt of this three-headed rivalry by telling the story of not only the successes on the court of these three coaches, but by also exploring what made each one of them so intense despite having distinctly different personalities. Feinstein is a no-nonsense writer as he tells stories of the recruiting wars between the three, the intensely competitive fire inside each one against one another, and insightful stories that bring the reader inside the mind of each coach. Feinstein gives each time equal time through the time that all three coached. However, I felt that Feinstein did his best work when writing about the discovery of Valvano’s cancer and all that happened until his death in 1993. The stories have been told before, but not like this. Feinstein should also get extra kudos for getting Valvano’s widow to open up so freely about the loss of her husband. This section made for some of the best reading in the entire book. Readers who have enjoyed Feinstein’s previous books on college basketball such as “A Season on the Brink” and “The Last Amateurs” will enjoy this one as well. Covering the game and the three schools who were coached by these three legendary coaches in his usual informative style, “The Legends Club” is a book that every basketball fan should add to his or her collection. I wish to thank Doubleday Publishing for providing an advance review copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    With two nonfiction bestsellers sitting on my table, I reached first for John Feinstein's The Legends Club. I'm a fan of his sports books, and I've even read some of his books on golf. But, this time, he covered my favorite basketball conference, the ACC, and three remarkable coaches. The subtitle is: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry. It's the perfect time of year to discuss the three men who coached in North Carolina, bringing one National Champion With two nonfiction bestsellers sitting on my table, I reached first for John Feinstein's The Legends Club. I'm a fan of his sports books, and I've even read some of his books on golf. But, this time, he covered my favorite basketball conference, the ACC, and three remarkable coaches. The subtitle is: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry. It's the perfect time of year to discuss the three men who coached in North Carolina, bringing one National Championship after another to the state. But, the universities themselves couldn't be more different, and the men who coached the basketball teams couldn't have been more different. Now, only Coach K is left, the one who climbed the highest pinnacle. But, from his earliest days at Duke, and Valvano's days at North Carolina State, they coached in the shadow of Dean Smith at North Carolina. It was his state; he recruited the players from the state; and the newspapers covered and loved his program. But, Feinstein, despite being a Duke graduate, manages to write beautifully about all three coaches. "In March of 1980, in a nine-day period, Duke hired Mike Krzyzewski and North Caroline State hired Jim Valvano." Krzyewski was thirty-three. He had played and coached under Bobby Knight, coached at Army. At thirty-four, Valvano was coming from Iona. Valvano was instantly a hit with the media. Coach K? Feinstein says, "Every single day he found himself competing against an icon and a rock star." Feinstein writes a beautiful book about that competition. He takes readers to the games, to the highs of the wins, and the lows of the losses. And, although all three coaches competed on the national stage, their greatest rivals were each other. Feinstein didn't have the chance to interview Valvano or Smith for the book, but over the years covering basketball in North Carolina, he had numerous opportunities to interview both. He interviewed Coach K, and the widows of both of the other coaches, a number of former players and coaches. It's a remarkable basketball book. Feinstein quotes Keith Drum of the Durham Morning Herald as saying repeatedly, "There's a lot of hate in this league." He was talking about the coaches. But, Smith and Krzyzewski and Valvano found their way to respect. In fact, Krzyzewski and Valvano formed a strong bond after Valvano left coaching, went to ESPN, and then learned he had cancer. The three chapters in which Valvano's cancer is covered made me cry. Everyone who follows college basketball knows the Jimmy V story and his heard his heartbreaking speech at the ESPYs just eight weeks before he died. Jim Valvano comes alive through the words of people who loved him, especially his wife, Pam. And, he comes alive through Feinstein's book. I could go on forever, quoting stories from The Legends Club. It's the perfect time of year to pick up a book about three remarkable coaches. Do yourself a favor. If you love college basketball, love the rivalries, the coaches and the characters of the sport, try The Legends Club

  5. 4 out of 5

    LemonLinda

    For those of us who live and breathe any one of these three ACC basketball teams, UNC, Duke or NC State, this is nostalgia. It is reliving our memories, some that make us so happy and some that are infuriating because all of our love and passion is for one of these teams and we have none for the other two. Mine is for the my alma mater and beloved university, The University of North Carolina. I did, however, gain a deeper understanding and some greater measure of respect for the other two coache For those of us who live and breathe any one of these three ACC basketball teams, UNC, Duke or NC State, this is nostalgia. It is reliving our memories, some that make us so happy and some that are infuriating because all of our love and passion is for one of these teams and we have none for the other two. Mine is for the my alma mater and beloved university, The University of North Carolina. I did, however, gain a deeper understanding and some greater measure of respect for the other two coaches, if not the programs they led/lead. It looks beyond their public personna and shows a side that the other two fan bases don't always consider. Well done. I enjoyed the walk down memory lane, especially the walk with a man for whom I have great respect not only for his coaching ability, but also for his moral center and his championing of causes well before they were accepted in mainstream society. Dean Smith, your legacy lives on in many ways.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rocky Clark

    Should you read this book? 1) Are you a UNC, Duke, or NC St fan? If so, your excuse for not reading this book is invalid. You HAVE to read it. You'll probably even walk away with an added respect for your team's nemesis. 2) Are you at least modestly interested in college basketball? If so, you'll find this book fascinating. Read it. If not, skip it 3) Would you like to grow as a leader? If so, this might be worth your time. It can't hurt to learn about some of the greatest leaders basketball has Should you read this book? 1) Are you a UNC, Duke, or NC St fan? If so, your excuse for not reading this book is invalid. You HAVE to read it. You'll probably even walk away with an added respect for your team's nemesis. 2) Are you at least modestly interested in college basketball? If so, you'll find this book fascinating. Read it. If not, skip it 3) Would you like to grow as a leader? If so, this might be worth your time. It can't hurt to learn about some of the greatest leaders basketball has ever known 4) Do you have a heart? If so, you'll be moved by Jimmy V's battle with cancer, Dean Smith's dementia, & the relationships that formed between these 3 men.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    OUTSTANDING! Picture me screaming this from the rooftops! John Feinstein brilliantly weaves together the coaching lives of three of the greatest coaches in men's college basketball -- Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, and Jim Valvano -- all three from North Carolina schools -- and all of these schools within 20-25 miles of each other. Some interesting tidbits: The interactions with their players, those they were recruiting, as well as other coaches / staff people was fascinating. Even though Krzyzewski OUTSTANDING! Picture me screaming this from the rooftops! John Feinstein brilliantly weaves together the coaching lives of three of the greatest coaches in men's college basketball -- Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, and Jim Valvano -- all three from North Carolina schools -- and all of these schools within 20-25 miles of each other. Some interesting tidbits: The interactions with their players, those they were recruiting, as well as other coaches / staff people was fascinating. Even though Krzyzewski and Bobby Knight did not speak for a number of years, Krzyzewski still applied principles that he had learned from his mentor. One, which I thought was especially interesting -- "Don't be afraid to call an early time-out if you need it." I also loved seeing (through the story) Krzyzewski run out onto the court and grab the front of a player's jersey, get in his face, and tell that player that he did not lose a game for them, he helped them get that far. This was a fabulous opportunity to mentor a young player, and he did it the right way. I can picture another [specific] coach doing the complete opposite. I cried buckets during the part about Jim Valvano's illness and death. I remember this time vividly. It's hard to believe that it's been almost 23 years since we lost this funny and dazzling man. Had he lived, Valvano would have turned 70, this year. Valvano once said that there are three things you should do everyday: 1) Laugh; 2) Think; 3) Cry Valvano's legacy in the form of the "Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research" aka the "V Foundation" is a most poignant gesture. "Don't give up, don't ever give up." Valvano once said, "Cancer may rob me of my physical powers. But it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. Those parts of me will live on forever." The information surrounding the Duke / Navy game at the beginning of Chapter 21 was [in a way] hilarious, and yet, I could totally get Krzyzewski's intense feelings (and the attitude they conveyed) about this particular game. I literally laughed out loud when I read about the Duke fans chanting "Abandon ship!" to Navy as their ship sunk (the basketball game). I did not remember Roy Williams as Dean Smith's assistant -- the interactions between these two men was very interesting, especially after Williams left and went to Kansas, and then during the times Coach Smith talked to Williams about returning to NC to take over as head coach. Stories about Dean Smith were hilarious! I have always pictured him as a curmudgeonly man, but I know his players and coaches loved him. I think that this is why his dibilitating illness was so shocking to everyone around him. The final visit -- when the Krzyzewskis went to see Dean and his wife was absolutely heartbreaking. The history surrounding Krzyzewski and Madison Square Garden was intriguing. The "tribute" that was done by the Duke Players & NC Players when Duke played Carolina was beautiful, especially when this moment was also shared by Coaches Krzyzewski & Roy Williams. It was sad, but in the end, it was hilarious, because curmudgeonly Coach Dean Smith really would not have liked all of the pomp and circumstance offered in his honor. He always said, "Never be proud of doing the right thing; just do the right thing." And I sincerely believe that he would have said do it without drawing attention to the situation. A very well researched book! Finally, in the words of Dick Vitale, all of these coaches are part of the "All-Michelangelo Team: Coaches who are brilliant artists at work."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    The book sometimes descended into the fate of so many sports books, knitting together statistics and records of season after season. I was hoping for more insight into the personalities of the participants and the ways in which those personalities were shaped by the culture at their respective schools, and shaped them in turn. A few flashes of those insights made this book worth reading, but I wasn't wowed. Dean Smith, in particular, served largely as an impersonal foil to Coach K and10.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    "The Legends Club" is a story about the passage of time and coming full circle with the coaching legacies of Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Mike Krzyzewski. The stories this book tells convey the depth of their intense rivalries, yearly chase for national titles of top ranked programs, the battle for coveted recruits, and the nuanced personalities that each of these coaches brought to their respective programs. The stories of Valvano and Coach K begin in 1980 where they assume control of basketball "The Legends Club" is a story about the passage of time and coming full circle with the coaching legacies of Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Mike Krzyzewski. The stories this book tells convey the depth of their intense rivalries, yearly chase for national titles of top ranked programs, the battle for coveted recruits, and the nuanced personalities that each of these coaches brought to their respective programs. The stories of Valvano and Coach K begin in 1980 where they assume control of basketball programs in the highly competitive ACC basketball conference at NC State and Duke. While these two new hires acclimated to their new roles, UNC's legendary Dean Smith managed a highly respected and successful national program despite the fact that he was chasing his first championship for the Tar Heels. Each of these coaches would achieve great success leading highly recruited players to a collective eight titles and countless Final Four appearances. Amidst their in-state rivalries, each coach endured obstacles both personally and professionally. This book goes a good job covering these obstacles but none more poignantly than Jim Valvano's 1993 battle with cancer. That story showcased the bond Valvano and Krzyzewski had as friends in a time of dire personal struggle. This book takes you on an enjoyable early journey through their coaching careers bringing you courtside to Championship seasons over their career including Valvano's 1983 "Survive and Advance" Wolf Pack title over Houston's vaunted "Phi Slamma Jamma" squad. All National Title runs are reasonably covered well but most non-title years are glossed over and carry a weaker narrative by the author as if it bores him to go into detail. I was disappointed with the rapid telling of the 1998-99 Duke season which was one of Coach K's deepest teams and runner up to Connecticut. The book concludes with Mike Krzyzewski's 2015 National Championship title with Duke with a team composed of many Freshman starters. Duke won that title because they were led by a coach that continues to innovate and remain a dynamic leader in a sport that is markedly different from where he began in 1980. The passage of time and battle scars these coaches earned are vividly told capturing the intense world and rivalries of ACC college basketball over the span of nearly four decades.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    How would you feel if you were coaching against North Carolina's Dean Smith? Personally I would be very afraid. In John Feinstein's book The Legends Club, he describes three of the best coaches in basketball ever, and how they competed against each other and other teams. This book falls into the category of historical fiction. In 1980, Duke and NC State had just hired two new head coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Valvano. This led to an intense decade of basketball between these three schools. How would you feel if you were coaching against North Carolina's Dean Smith? Personally I would be very afraid. In John Feinstein's book The Legends Club, he describes three of the best coaches in basketball ever, and how they competed against each other and other teams. This book falls into the category of historical fiction. In 1980, Duke and NC State had just hired two new head coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Valvano. This led to an intense decade of basketball between these three schools. There were three main characters in this book: Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Mike Krzyzewski. If you know a little about basketball, these three people are the pinnacle of excellence at dominating there sport. Dean Smith coached at North Carolina for thirty six years. They were the best of the best, the top of the food chain. The year 1980 was huge for college basketball. Two new coaches had arrived at NC State and the prestigious Duke, both in the same conference as North Carolina. Jim Valvano got the head coaching job at NC State. Jim was a great man, a man that someday I want to be like. He treated everyone the same with love, kindness, and much glee. He treated his players the same way. He wasn't the best technical coach in the world, but he knew how to get the best out of his players. Mike Krzyzewski arrived at Duke with lofty aspirations. He’s had the privilege of coaching some of the best college basketball players ever. Christian Laettner for example, is probably the best player to ever play in college. He won two national championships in his four years at Duke. Those championships would be the first two for Duke University and Coach K. Coach K and Coach Valvano are great coaches, but they were no match for the veteran Dean Smith. While losing a lot to Deans teams over the years, in a way they were winning. They gained much knowledge through defeat, they figured out how Dean was successful. In this book, you'll see how three men can be great friends, as well as fierce competitors. I give this book a five out of five stars. There is so much juicy and interesting information about these three men and schools that I didn't know. I thought John Feinstein did a fantastic job of giving a lot of really cool info, without making it too long with his choice of words. I also enjoy analyzing and watching basketball. It would've been cool too watch Dean Smith fiercely coach North Carolina in his hay day, but Feinstein paints a pretty good picture in the mind of what it was like. All in all, this was a fun read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    A hoops' junkie book, good but not great. Feinstein really knows college hoops better than maybe any journalist out there. This book surveys the careers and personalities of these three legendary coaches. A lot of the book is devoted to narrating the seasons and playoffs themselves; this makes for mixed reading (or listening). What makes the book worth checking out is the profiles of the coaches themselves. Dean Smith, the humble hero, unabashed liberal, subtle manipulator, and, well, the dean o A hoops' junkie book, good but not great. Feinstein really knows college hoops better than maybe any journalist out there. This book surveys the careers and personalities of these three legendary coaches. A lot of the book is devoted to narrating the seasons and playoffs themselves; this makes for mixed reading (or listening). What makes the book worth checking out is the profiles of the coaches themselves. Dean Smith, the humble hero, unabashed liberal, subtle manipulator, and, well, the dean of Carolina hoops. Coach K, the Army Guy who barely survived his first few years at Duke before turning it into a national powerhouse, a surprisingly fiery guy, Bob Knight with more sanity and class, a good all-around person. Jim Valvano, the hilarious, passionate Yankee who owned every room he walked into, the underdog who made the greatest Cinderella run in NCAA history, the biggest of the big personalities with a surprisingly restless soul, the one with a life cut tragically short. If you wanted to know a lot about these guys, each interesting and respectable in their own ways, this is a great book for you. So who would I play for if I had the chance? Thanks for asking. Let's say the teams were all equally as good. For me, Coach V would just be too tiring, too emotionally driven, and maybe a little too self-centered. While I admire Dean as a person, his very controlling coaching style would have driven me crazy, especially in the old slow-the-game-down days of the 70's and 80's. He would also be too emotionally chill; that's usually how I am, and I need a coach who is more fire than cerebralness (it's a word now) to get the best out of me. So, even though I'm wearing a Carolina shirt right now, I'd have to pick Coach K: he really cares about his players as people, but he is demanding and tough; he ekes the best out of his guys but is neither a bully, an egotist, nor a simpleton. Also, the guy's a proven champ.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Let me begin by saying the Dean Smith is my hero, and I do not like anything related to the school down the road from Chapel Hill. I lived in Raleigh while Coach V was in residence. That is my preface. I enjoyed this book, and while my respect for Coach Smith is in no way diminished, this book did not portray him as a person with whom I would have enjoyed spending time. In other words, Mr. Feinstein wrote what I believe to be a clear and fair picture of my hero, flaws and all. As I said, however Let me begin by saying the Dean Smith is my hero, and I do not like anything related to the school down the road from Chapel Hill. I lived in Raleigh while Coach V was in residence. That is my preface. I enjoyed this book, and while my respect for Coach Smith is in no way diminished, this book did not portray him as a person with whom I would have enjoyed spending time. In other words, Mr. Feinstein wrote what I believe to be a clear and fair picture of my hero, flaws and all. As I said, however, my respect is not diminished. Mr. Feinstein, did not, however, change my opinion of the other coaches. I will argue one point, although I believe that the context from which the quote came is a bit more fair than I can be. Given that Coach K is the last surviving coach, and the longest-tenured coach in the ACC, Mr. Feinstein comments that he "...has become Coach Smith" (I paraphrased--so this is not a direct quote). I disagree highly with that remark, given Coach Smith's zeal to do the right thing by all his players, and his community, and also portrays Coach K as hypocritical, given some of the comments he has made that are preserved on tape. Coach Valvano's is a sad story, and well told in this book, and fair to all, I believe. I don't know of his ethics, but I do know from personal experience that he really did enter rooms in the way Mr. Feinstein illustrates. He was funny and personable, and everyone in Raleigh loved him until he quit winning. Then they wanted him to be their neighbor, but not their coach. Well-written, enjoyable, and I would recommend with the caveat that is discussed above.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ph. D.

    This is a very readable, first-person account of the glory years of Tobacco Road basketball. Feinstein has an obvious love affair with Coach K, but really, what's not to love about him? Get over your hatred of Duke, gentle reader, and give credit where it's due. The author enjoyed intimate access to all three of these remarkable men, and used it to full advantage in crafting this book. Check the credits at the end to appreciate the contributions of so many others as well, especially the widows o This is a very readable, first-person account of the glory years of Tobacco Road basketball. Feinstein has an obvious love affair with Coach K, but really, what's not to love about him? Get over your hatred of Duke, gentle reader, and give credit where it's due. The author enjoyed intimate access to all three of these remarkable men, and used it to full advantage in crafting this book. Check the credits at the end to appreciate the contributions of so many others as well, especially the widows of Dean Smith and Jim Valvano. Props to Feinstein for establishing a trusting relationship with the people who knew Smith and Valvano the best. Even if you're not a college basketball sick-o like me, you will appreciate how this beyond-intense rivalry brought out the best in Smith, Krzyzewski, and Valvano as coaches and competitors; how while there was not always affection, there was always respect; and most important, how what happened off the court transcended their differences and turned respect into love.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    I have always enjoyed sports author John Feinstein's writing. He's easy to read - funny, tells a good story, writes about subjects I really like, and has a great perspective. "The Legends Club" is no exception. He tells the story of the three ACC basketball coaches' national accomplishments in an enjoyable and interesting way. His sources are many, knowledgable, and very credible. He weaves in entertaining side stories, and in general, paints a good picture of them and ACC championship basketbal I have always enjoyed sports author John Feinstein's writing. He's easy to read - funny, tells a good story, writes about subjects I really like, and has a great perspective. "The Legends Club" is no exception. He tells the story of the three ACC basketball coaches' national accomplishments in an enjoyable and interesting way. His sources are many, knowledgable, and very credible. He weaves in entertaining side stories, and in general, paints a good picture of them and ACC championship basketball during the last 50 years. The minuses are that he is sometimes a bit repetitive. Also, this book should not be viewed as taking a critical look at big-time college basketball - it doesn't, and I don't think Feinstein would ever claim that it does. The money issues, 'amateur' athlete issues, and sometimes dubious scholastic issues are not addressed. (There are other good books that do delve into college sports problems, if one is interested.) If you're looking for an easy, enjoyable read about three remarkable coaches, however, this is the book for you. I liked it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doubleday Books

    "Completing riveting—the story of the THE LEGENDS CLUB will appeal to both diehard NCAA fans and utter novices (such as myself). John Feinstein explores the epic college basketball rivalry of NCAA basketball coaches Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, and Jim Valvano with heart and with a lifelong expert’s appreciation. John Feinstein knew all of these coaches personally during their rivalry, and he brings his personal experience into the story. Luckily, Feinstein isn’t one to sensationalize the story "Completing riveting—the story of the THE LEGENDS CLUB will appeal to both diehard NCAA fans and utter novices (such as myself). John Feinstein explores the epic college basketball rivalry of NCAA basketball coaches Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, and Jim Valvano with heart and with a lifelong expert’s appreciation. John Feinstein knew all of these coaches personally during their rivalry, and he brings his personal experience into the story. Luckily, Feinstein isn’t one to sensationalize the story and only focus on their competition. The parts of the book that I enjoyed the most were the emotional and personal anecdotes, and the stories of the men’s respect for, and eventual friendship with, each other. As bonus points, I can now fake my way through a conversation as a college basketball fan!" - Sarah E. Doubleday Marketing Department

  16. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    Feinstein knows basketball John Feinstein writes about sports as well as anyone right now. His ability to make the people, the athletes and the coaches, accessible and real, is where he is at his best, and makes any book he writes a must read for me. Because I have always been a fan of the ACC, and admired coaches Smith, Krzyzewski (for grins ask Siri to pronounce his name), and Valvano, I had high expectations for this book. Feinstein did not disappoint.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ward

    The Legends Club, really dives into the relationship between the author and the three coaches, but also the relationships between Dean Smith, Coach K, and Jim Valvano. At the time of Dean Smith's everyone feared North Carolina, not for the accomplishments or how good they were, but the force of Dean Smith's presence at all games. Before Coach K and Jim Valvano got hired for their respective schools, Duke and NC State, many coaches came and gone in the time before. Many of them were successful at The Legends Club, really dives into the relationship between the author and the three coaches, but also the relationships between Dean Smith, Coach K, and Jim Valvano. At the time of Dean Smith's everyone feared North Carolina, not for the accomplishments or how good they were, but the force of Dean Smith's presence at all games. Before Coach K and Jim Valvano got hired for their respective schools, Duke and NC State, many coaches came and gone in the time before. Many of them were successful at NC State and at Duke, but the presence of Dean Smith and trying to live up to his stature in the North Carolina is what drove the previous coaches crazy and forced them to leave. Before coming to the ACC, Coach K and Jim Valvano were very successful at their previous schools. Jim turned around the Iona college basketball program, while Coach K did the same thing at Army. Coach K and Jimmy V knew each other very well before getting hired at NC State and Duke. Each school knew when they brought in Coach K and Jim Valvano that they would be different because they weren’t scared of a challenge and more importantly Dean Smith and the reputation he had. Jim Valvano had the charisma and character to win over any room he was in, this was important when it came down to recruiting some of the best basketball talents coming out of high school. Coach K on the other hand wasn’t the same way, but over the years he learned from his other colleagues and is now one of the best coaches in the world and is a great recruiter. Over the years the coaches started out as rivals, but they became very close friends and shared many memories on the court and off the court. Jim Valvano would be the first to retire in 1990 as a coach from North Carolina State, after that he would take his career into broadcasting, but it would be cut short by cancer. Days before his death, he would give his famous speech at the Espy’s that said, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that is a full of a day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” Jim Valvano had a huge impact on basketball, but also on life for his players, the assistant coaches and people in general. Dean Smith would be the next to retire in 1997. His retirement would come due to health issues, but his legacy will remain forever. Coach K still coaches to this day and now has become one of the most accomplished in college basketball history. These three took over the state of North Carolina, but they also took over the game of basketball in the years they all coached. The relationship between these coaches were all special in some way or another. If you like sports and the history of sports this book is a must read. This shows the rivalry that was college basketball in North Carolina during the Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Coach K years.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abe Shocket

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really enjoyed the short section on Jimmy V. I wasn't around here for that part of history, nor did I understand that NCSU had at one stretch of time been a top team. It is easy to understand the rivalry and its intensity much better having read this. State fans these days are overjoyed with any wins over Duke and UNC. The book is clearly anti-Carolina and the tone is so one-sided that I had to stop and think about the author. A fellow New Yorker and long time from of Coach K. K is the only on I really enjoyed the short section on Jimmy V. I wasn't around here for that part of history, nor did I understand that NCSU had at one stretch of time been a top team. It is easy to understand the rivalry and its intensity much better having read this. State fans these days are overjoyed with any wins over Duke and UNC. The book is clearly anti-Carolina and the tone is so one-sided that I had to stop and think about the author. A fellow New Yorker and long time from of Coach K. K is the only one of the three legends still alive, so it makes it even easier to tilt the tone to the K. The book is even anti-NC Media, though the author probably hasn't been reading the News and Observer the last 10 years or more. Out local liberal rag here in Raleigh puts any UNC problems on the front page and loves State. In many ways, the book is a great way to fly through the many seasons, all from coaches' viewpoints. Maybe Dean Smith and Carolina, were so good, for so long, and so dominant, that the author's message is spot on. There is no way you can't take sides, unless you don't care enough and then you wouldn't have read this book. No one can deny that old ferret face and his 1000+ wins makes him one of the GOAT coaches, but I still won't be swayed that he should be likable. His decision to embrace one and dones seems like a self-serving way to keep on coaching well into his 70's. Certainly his prerogative to do so, but no Carolina fan is going to respect him for it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve Sanders

    I really enjoyed this audiobook, despite of not being the biggest college basketball fan. Feinstein does a great job narrating his story as well. From time to time I thought Feinstein would focus a bit too much on Krzyzewski, but I suspect this is because Coach K is the only coach of the three Feinstein talks about that are still alive, meaning Krzyzewski can speak for himself when topics concerning him come up. This is not to say that he totally ignores Smith or Valvano, he certainly does not, c I really enjoyed this audiobook, despite of not being the biggest college basketball fan. Feinstein does a great job narrating his story as well. From time to time I thought Feinstein would focus a bit too much on Krzyzewski, but I suspect this is because Coach K is the only coach of the three Feinstein talks about that are still alive, meaning Krzyzewski can speak for himself when topics concerning him come up. This is not to say that he totally ignores Smith or Valvano, he certainly does not, conducting a ton of interviews of people who knew each coach for stories and anecdotes, as well as drawing from his own journalistic notes while he covering them. Feinstein is very fair to all three of these coaches and gives each their due respect, and offers the reader/listener some revealing insights on all three men. A great book that any sports fan will enjoy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julian Douglass

    A great book about Basketball in the research triangle from the early 70's to today (circa 2015). Mr. Feinstein again tells a masterful story with humor, drama, and some tears at the end of the book, much like what Jim Valvano had to say at his ESPY's speech back in 94. The stories he tells within the main story too makes the book that much more magical. Some parts he skims by while others he can explain a little longer than need be, but overall it is a good tale with many subplots. The biggest A great book about Basketball in the research triangle from the early 70's to today (circa 2015). Mr. Feinstein again tells a masterful story with humor, drama, and some tears at the end of the book, much like what Jim Valvano had to say at his ESPY's speech back in 94. The stories he tells within the main story too makes the book that much more magical. Some parts he skims by while others he can explain a little longer than need be, but overall it is a good tale with many subplots. The biggest point of concern is that sometimes he will skip ahead in the time line to tell a story, then come back to it later in the book. Maybe its just a pet peeve for me. This is a great book for any college basketball fan who wants to read up on the lore of Dean Smith, Coach K, and Jimmy V. Highly recommend.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    If you've read any of Feinstein's college basketball books before, you know what you're getting: great behind-the-scenes information, a few stories repeated (either from other books or from within this narrative), lots of genuflecting at the altar of the great ACC coaches. There's an unusual bitter streak here that I don't remember from earlier reads, leading to some real cheap shots that almost cross some racist lines (mostly relating to the intelligence or character of various African-American If you've read any of Feinstein's college basketball books before, you know what you're getting: great behind-the-scenes information, a few stories repeated (either from other books or from within this narrative), lots of genuflecting at the altar of the great ACC coaches. There's an unusual bitter streak here that I don't remember from earlier reads, leading to some real cheap shots that almost cross some racist lines (mostly relating to the intelligence or character of various African-American players). He shows some willingness to present the protagonists' warts, but is more interested in writing a hagiography, which is a mixed blessing for someone like me who loves and respects Dean Smith but thinks Coach K and Jim Valvano are/were sanctimonious hypocrites.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

    I don't know that there is any review I could write that would fully encapsulate how I feel about the coaches in this book. I am a die-hard Duke fan and have been since I was young. I intensely hate North Carolina, while greatly admiring Dean Smith and how he built his program. And Jimmy V, who was taken far too early, so we will never know what kind of coach he would have become. I can not watch his ESPYS speech without crying. The best I can offer are the very last lines of the book, so complet I don't know that there is any review I could write that would fully encapsulate how I feel about the coaches in this book. I am a die-hard Duke fan and have been since I was young. I intensely hate North Carolina, while greatly admiring Dean Smith and how he built his program. And Jimmy V, who was taken far too early, so we will never know what kind of coach he would have become. I can not watch his ESPYS speech without crying. The best I can offer are the very last lines of the book, so completely true: "And, although Krzyzewski knows that no one lives forever, he also knows what he and Smith and Valvano became. Their intense battles, their friendships, their victories, and their legacies - as coaches, as rivals, and as men - will undoubtedly live forever."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    When I was a kid I used to read Sports Illustrated every week, until after a while I realized that all SI did was find a few guys that were in the news, and then write articles just talking about how great they were. That’s kind of what this book is. Which is okay. You can still have an entertaining book even if you’re just hyping people up. But this book wasn’t really entertaining enough to overcome its lack of depth/insight. There were some interesting little nuggets here and there, and a few When I was a kid I used to read Sports Illustrated every week, until after a while I realized that all SI did was find a few guys that were in the news, and then write articles just talking about how great they were. That’s kind of what this book is. Which is okay. You can still have an entertaining book even if you’re just hyping people up. But this book wasn’t really entertaining enough to overcome its lack of depth/insight. There were some interesting little nuggets here and there, and a few amusing stories. The best parts of the book by far in my opinion were the chapters on the end of Jimmy V’s life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Fun read but becomes too stats heavy toward the end. Overall, this is an interesting background on three major college basketball coaches. The book starts off well describing the early years of three legendary coaches. The differences between the coaches is presented through coaching styles and personalities. After developing background on all three coaches, the author dives into season by season progress. The author throws in statistics and game by game analysis. The sports analysis drags on to Fun read but becomes too stats heavy toward the end. Overall, this is an interesting background on three major college basketball coaches. The book starts off well describing the early years of three legendary coaches. The differences between the coaches is presented through coaching styles and personalities. After developing background on all three coaches, the author dives into season by season progress. The author throws in statistics and game by game analysis. The sports analysis drags on too long and takes away from the coach biographies. This book is a worthwhile read for an avid college basketball fan.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Riley Cooper

    John Feinstein is such a polished sports author that the only thing that ever dampens my enthusiasm for his books is a topic that I am predisposed to dislike. At least, that's what I thought before reading this book about coaches I almost always root(ed) against. Being from Big 10 country, the ACC's long run of success in college basketball is a sore spot. However, this book humanizes the men behind the programs that I love to hate. For that - and for being such a great read - I feel compelled t John Feinstein is such a polished sports author that the only thing that ever dampens my enthusiasm for his books is a topic that I am predisposed to dislike. At least, that's what I thought before reading this book about coaches I almost always root(ed) against. Being from Big 10 country, the ACC's long run of success in college basketball is a sore spot. However, this book humanizes the men behind the programs that I love to hate. For that - and for being such a great read - I feel compelled to give this 5 stars. Warning - you too might feel your "sports hate" of Duke and North Carolina reduced a few notches!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karli Eller

    Growing up in North Carolina and being a huge fan of college basketball, this book was perfect. It gave amazing insight into the basketball programs at UNC, Duke & State as well as into the three larger than life coaches, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, & Jim Valvano. Fascinating behind the scenes look at their relationships with one another and their thoughts towards one another. Very well researched and insightful. Anyone who grew up in NC and loves basketball should read this. Warning-be Growing up in North Carolina and being a huge fan of college basketball, this book was perfect. It gave amazing insight into the basketball programs at UNC, Duke & State as well as into the three larger than life coaches, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, & Jim Valvano. Fascinating behind the scenes look at their relationships with one another and their thoughts towards one another. Very well researched and insightful. Anyone who grew up in NC and loves basketball should read this. Warning-because Coach K is the only coach of the three still living and still coaching, the book did feature him more than the other two coaches.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Ruggeri

    Dean Smith's Four Corners offense sounds borderline unwatchable, and Valvano's championship Wolfpack team seems to have leaned awfully hard on the Hack-a-Shaq strategy long before it had a name or was reviled by basketball fans everywhere. But the way Feinstein writes it, I can't help but feel disappointed I wasn't there to witness it all firsthand. Valvano's legacy and the intensity of Duke-UNC are such givens today, to the point where they're almost cliche. It's fascinating to see how they cam Dean Smith's Four Corners offense sounds borderline unwatchable, and Valvano's championship Wolfpack team seems to have leaned awfully hard on the Hack-a-Shaq strategy long before it had a name or was reviled by basketball fans everywhere. But the way Feinstein writes it, I can't help but feel disappointed I wasn't there to witness it all firsthand. Valvano's legacy and the intensity of Duke-UNC are such givens today, to the point where they're almost cliche. It's fascinating to see how they came about, realize how close they came to not happening, and gain a new appreciation for the people involved.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Day

    This was excellent. I have a new appreciation for these coaches, what they accomplished, and how important it is to get past some of the things that cause hurt feelings. I really liked how Feinstein went beyond basketball with these men, showing their human sides, their relationships with each other and how they developed over time. I have always been a hater of Duke basketball, and Feinstein was able to make me see coach Krzyzewski in a different light. I still will never root for Duke to win, This was excellent. I have a new appreciation for these coaches, what they accomplished, and how important it is to get past some of the things that cause hurt feelings. I really liked how Feinstein went beyond basketball with these men, showing their human sides, their relationships with each other and how they developed over time. I have always been a hater of Duke basketball, and Feinstein was able to make me see coach Krzyzewski in a different light. I still will never root for Duke to win, but I do appreciate Krzyzewski for the amazing things he has accomplished and for his wonderful traits as a human being. His reaching out to coach Bobby Knight at the end really hit me. 5 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    I admit that I love college basketball so when I picked up this book , I knew I would at least enjoy the historical references to games I remembered.... however I didn't expect the human relationship stories or the impact they had on the game. The book is fun to read, although the various statistics and game details were a bit much for me after a while... the insights into the various coaches , their history and their impact on the game and each other was fascinating. I was surprised I enjoyed t I admit that I love college basketball so when I picked up this book , I knew I would at least enjoy the historical references to games I remembered.... however I didn't expect the human relationship stories or the impact they had on the game. The book is fun to read, although the various statistics and game details were a bit much for me after a while... the insights into the various coaches , their history and their impact on the game and each other was fascinating. I was surprised I enjoyed this book as much as I did

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Brothers

    This book was overall a disappointment. I will preface this review by saying that I’m a Tar Heel fan. In that light, after reading this book, I learned that it’s important who is left to tell the story. The author clearly relied on Coach K heavily for this book, as nearly every anecdote was told through his perspective. While almost 2 chapters were devoted to Coach K’s hiring, there was barely half a page about Dean Smith’s first championship. I would recommend this book to all Duke and NC State This book was overall a disappointment. I will preface this review by saying that I’m a Tar Heel fan. In that light, after reading this book, I learned that it’s important who is left to tell the story. The author clearly relied on Coach K heavily for this book, as nearly every anecdote was told through his perspective. While almost 2 chapters were devoted to Coach K’s hiring, there was barely half a page about Dean Smith’s first championship. I would recommend this book to all Duke and NC State fans. But this is a definite Stay Away for any UNC or even Dean Smith fans

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