Monday, June 8, 2015

Beyond Championships by Coach Dru Joyce II, 2014

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As the coach of one of high school basketball s greatest programs, Coach Dru Joyce has been mentor and motivator to some of the nation s best young players, including basketball legend LeBron James. Despite having virtually no experience in the sport, in less than ten years Dru went from a no-name fan to one of the highest profile basketball coaches in the country.
With insight and grit earned from his years on and off the court, Coach Dru shares for the first time the secrets to his teams success and his own coaching achievements. Far more than a sports book, Beyond Championships is a blueprint for anyone looking to make better choices, reach their full potential, and become winners in all areas of life.
As Dru outlines the nine principles that he promotes to his players and tries to live in his own life as well, you ll discover that the solid foundation on which he built so many successful basketball programs can be applied to almost any situation. As you assess your chosen path in life and look for ways to embark on a more inspiring and rewarding journey, Coach Dru offers an accessible and relatable roadmap for personal evolution. (224 pages)

I'll be honest here: I don't do basketball. We had season passes once to the local high school so I have seen the game played, but I don't know much more about it than that you have to bounce the ball when you run and you're trying to get it into your opponent's basket. Why did I volunteer for a review copy of Beyond Champions, then? What sort of person would be interested in reading a book by LeBron James's coach, when she could never even remember if LeBron played basketball or baseball? Well, the short answer is that I was curious. I like to try out new things periodically, and this seemed like a great way to wade a few inches into the sports scene. Plus, I loved Ben Carson's advice book You Have a Brain, and I wanted to read a book similar to that.

Well, it's not really very similar to You Have a Brain. I wish it were. Carson spent the first half of the book walking through his childhood/tracing his own path to success, then the other half of the book explaining the applicable lessons that he had drawn from his experiences. It was interesting, well-organized, and very useful because the advice was compiled in a few chapters at the back of the book. Joyce, on the other hand, organized his book so that every chapter focused on a different piece of advice from him. This begins well enough in the first few chapters, where he explains his own childhood and young adulthood in parallel with advice about "the beauty of rock bottom" and how "decisions create environment." The story thread becomes much more blurred in the later chapters, as Jocye uses anecdotes from random parts of his career to illuminate each point. The chronology is pretty dodgy. 

I still would have enjoyed Joyce's book despite the fuzzy narrative, but I struggled for the better part of a week to get through it. I had a hard time deciding what I thought about Joce as a person - knowing nothing about sports, I don't know if he's really known as a great Christian guy, or whether that's just how he's spinning it in his book. He doesn't pull any punches describing his (rather abysmal) college years, but he paints a too-good-to-be-true picture of himself as a coach, talking about his own skill and his own techniques and his own devotion to the players until the reader (or at least this reader) is ready to yell "enough already!" and go Google some old scandals involving him. Also, he name-drops almost incessantly. It's "LeBron this" and "Bron that" (he informs us early on that he gets to use this nickname for James), and "he is indebted to me for what I taught him as a kid." I don't doubt that Joyce and James were very close, and that James learned a lot under Joyce, but it got a little old hearing about it all the time. Maybe that's just because I don't know LeBron James from Michael Jordan, though - sports fans probably wouldn't complain that there are too many details about the basketball star.

Basically, only read this if you care about LeBron James, Dru Joyce II, (and his son, Dru Joyce III), and/or the mindset of basketball coaches. Otherwise, just skip this one and go read an advice book written by someone you are interested in.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go watch TV for an hour. Reading about all of that basketball stuff is exhausting.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

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