Reviews for Season on the Reservation : My Soujourn With the White Mountain Apaches


Book News Reviews
For the 1998-98 season, the NBA legend accepted an invitation from the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona to coach the high school basketball team. Here he recounts his experiences. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 January 2000
In 1998, in response to Colin Powell's call for volunteerism, basketball Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became an assistant coach for the Alchesay Falcons on the Whiteriver Reservation in Arizona. Abdul-Jabbar's challenge was three-fold: to relate a lifetime of basketball experience to the skill level of the players he was coaching; to assert himself yet remain respectful of the permanent coaching staff; and to remember why being a teenager is so difficult. His challenges were compounded by Native American culture, which makes personal criticism difficult to mete out or accept, and by the social ills on the reservation. Abdul-Jabbar is a thoughtful, empathetic, and intelligent man who understands that social change comes about one individual at a time. His diary-style account of his year on the reservation chronicles a valuable learning experience for both coach and players. No mere sports autobiography, this is a fascinating and genuinely revealing look at Native American culture ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1999 December #1
A restless basketball legend coaches high schoolers on an Arizona Indian reservation and learns a good deal more than he teaches. Eager to put the tumult of Los Angeles behind him and ever in search of new challenges, Abdul-Jabbar packed his car in the fall of 1997 and headed to Arizona to serve as a volunteer coach/advisor at Alchesay High School in Whiteriver. Upon arrival at the White Mountain Apache reservation, the star felt out of place a sensation he was eminently familiar with as an extremely tall kid, and as an contemplative, bookish young man in the machismo-soaked world of pro sports. Gradually acquiring enough familiarity with Apache life to earn the trust and friendship of his players and their families, Kareem wondered why many of them seemed resistant to coaching. Over the course of the season, Kareem seized every opportunity to learn more about his players, their culture, and their environment. He discovered through his players experiences the many obstacles these boys faced alcoholism, lack of opportunity, the pressure not to succeed too conspicuously for fear of shaming others less fortunate. Kareem also began to think in new ways about his own life, especially about his failure to land a coaching job at a major college or in the pros. Although the Alchesay High Falcons never realized their potential as a team, they tested themselves and grew as individuals, on the court and off, and, by and large, enjoyed themselves in the process. Rather than wait in despair for a Falcon guard to score an improbable basket, or for the team to rally from another huge deficit, Kareem learned to share his charges enthusiasm for the game a pleasure he had missed, and one he realized would be all but absent from coaching at the highest levels. Thoughtful, introspective, and candid, Abdul-Jabbar offers readers a refreshing departure from the usual I m-the-greatest tone of jock-penned tomes. Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 2000 January #1
It is not uncommon for ex-athletes to try their hand at writing on predictable subjects such as making sacrifices for the ultimate goal of a championship, or overcoming some adversity. Abdul-Jabbar, happily, goes beyond these subjects and instead writes about his experience coaching a Native American high school basketball team. The book centers on how both Abdul-Jabbar and the boys learn from each other both on and off the court. Native culture, Abdul-Jabbar writes, enriched his own life; likewise, the young ball players learned from Abdul-Jabbar's basketball savvy and his personal experiences. Although the book does tell the expected story of the team's attempt to win a championship, this is not its ultimate message. Instead, it's a book about how a team and its coach handle life's problems and attempt to achieve goals larger than winning a game. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/99.]--Patrick Mahoney, Kansas City P.L., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Reviews 1999 October #2
What Abdul-Jabbar learned from his basketball students on the rez. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Reviews 1999 November #1
Former superstar basketball player Abdul-Jabbar (Black Profiles in Courage) spent a season coaching and mentoring high school kids on the Alchesay Falcons basketball team, a Native American group. He relates his experiences with them, and what they learned from each other, not just about basketball but about life. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 December #2
More contemplative than action-packed, this is the account of a season Kareem spent working with the Alchesay Falcons, a high school basketball team on the White Mountain Apache reservation in Whiteriver, Ariz. Guiding the young men to the state tournament, Kareem reflects upon his own life and on the state of the game, as well as upon present-day professional players and aspiring youth ("Athletes need to stay in school until they have graduated from college"). Throughout the account, he explains basketball moves, but his focus is on more abstract matters, like his philosophy of teaching. The games themselves are straightforwardly recounted but lack dramatic punch, mainly because the season ends with a loss. But drama for Kareem lies elsewhere in his learning about the social, cultural and economic hardships faced by the boys, who live in one of the poorest counties in the nation, and in the boys learning to push beyond the comfort zone of their community. As he has demonstrated in his previous books (Giant Steps; Black Profiles in Courage), Kareem has a passion for history, which he shares when, as part of his effort to motivate the team, he relates elements of the Native American past and attempts to link it to African-American history. At the end of the season, Kareem leaves with a feeling of having found a second home. TV and radio satellite tours. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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