Book Review: 'One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game' by John Feinstein
One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game John Feinstein Little, Brown & Company (2011)
Memorable moments and unforgettable people during a ten-book journey…thus far…featured in an eleventh book
Others have their reasons for holding this book in high regard. Here are three of mine. First, with all due respect to the celebrities in sports with whom John Feinstein has been directly associated (e.g. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, John McEnroe, Arnold Palmer, Dean Smith, and Tiger Woods), I enjoyed even more being introduced to others who offer unique insights into the sub texture of “the thrill of victory …and the agony of defeat,” a tag line associated with the ABC’s Wide World of Sports program on television (1961-1998). They include Steve Alford, Damon Bailey, Jim Cantelupe, Steve Kerr, Christina and Derek Klein, Esther Newberg, George Solomon, and Ted Tinling. For reasons best revealed in the book, each is a major contributor to Feinstein’s personal growth and professional development.
Also, I really appreciate sharing Feinstein’s perspectives on what he enjoys most (and least) about his career in sports journalism thus far, especially his take on what it is like to have access to so many major events, scrambling to make both domestic and international travel connections, and coping with hamster-brained “officials” who deny access (i.e. handlers, gatekeepers, security guards). What did he learn (and from whom did he learn it) about how to manage the logistics of travel, access, accommodations, food, rest and relaxation, and aspects of extensive travel?
Finally, there are his thorny relationships with various people, notably with Bob Knight, but also with Jim Courier, Rick Pitino, Bobby Valentine, Jim Valvano, and Tiger Woods. Eventually, he seems to have achieved mutual (albeit somewhat grudging) respect with each. Knowing only what Feinstein shares about these relationships, I have only his point-of-view but he seems to make an effort to portray both sides of the given disagreements, misunderstandings, and accusations. There are other, less volatile relationships that Feinstein especially enjoys, such as those with his Washington Post colleague, Bob Woodward, as well as with Bud Collins, Sally Jenkins, Ivan Lendl, Jeff Neuman, and David Robinson.
My personal co-favorites among Feinstein’s ten previous books are Civil War and Let Me Tell You a Story but he will probably be best-remembered for Season on the Brink. All are first-rate. Hopefully, he will publish several more books in years to come and then another One on One.
Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.