Paul Westhead's The Speed Game offers a treasure trove of information and stories about how he developed a style of basketball that not only won at the highest levels but went on to influence the game as it is played today.
Don’t get the idea that The Speed Game is infatuated repetitiously with a scheme for winning basketball games. Mr. Westhead gives us a lot more. It may be a surprise to readers to learn how graceful and interesting a writer he is. In four years at St. Joseph’s in his hometown of Philadelphia, his 3.4 grade average topped his basketball scoring average of 2.4 points per game. And he spent two years at Villanova studying Shakespeare and teaching college English. In his memoir, he writes especially well about coaching the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA championship in 1980 and the Phoenix Mercury, led by the great Diana Taurasi, to the 2007 women’s title. He also describes how, in the late 1980s, he transformed Loyola Marymount into a powerhouse, and he does so without diminishing the role of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble in the team’s success ... Mr. Westhead’s core argument in The Speed Game, though persuasively advanced, may feel like a lost cause. As exciting as the speed game is, and as successful as it can be, most coaches and fans are fine with the slower game and think it’s exciting enough.
Tells the story of a hoops heretic whose long and winding career as a coach was fueled by a passionate obsession. His memoir is both proud and self-effacing, candid and evasive, an artful nod to Shakespearean comedy and tragedy.
Westhead provides exhaustive details on his jobs but is strangely casual when recalling a plan by disgruntled former player Spencer Haywood to have him killed ... Readers won’t get a very good sense of Westhead’s non-professional life, and the overall feel of the work is one of a superficial career overview. Only die-hard hoops fans need apply.