Nothing but Net

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

NOTHING BUT NET is a rambling memoir by the renowned basketball player, Bill Walton. He concentrates on the joy he found in playing basketball at all levels. He played for the joy of competition, not for the money or glory.

Walton praises the coaches and mentors he had as a player, especially his coach at UCLA, John Wooden. Walton sees Wooden as a man who completely dedicated himself to basketball. Walton speaks of the championships he won in basketball at UCLA, the Portland Trailblazers, and the Boston Celtics as team rather than personal victories. He gives special attention to his days as a member of the Boston Celtics. After a terrible experience in Portland and a frustrating one with the Los Angeles Clippers, Walton found a place with a team that stressed team values and individual excellence. He singles our Larry Bird as a player and a man who possesses the attitudes and values Walton cherishes most.

Walton discusses his injuries at great length in the book. He missed nearly half of the games in his long career because of foot and ankle problems. Some accused him of being a malingerer, but he did have serious injuries that have only recently healed.

The second half of the book is devoted to Walton’s opinions on various issues. He opposes undergraduates leaving college after a year or two for the money of the professional league. He also suggest reforms for the National Basketball Association (NBA) and discusses his all-time dream team.

NOTHING BUT NET is a loosely organized book that repeats many of Walton’s points and anecdotes; it could have benefitted from tighter editing to increase its coherence. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining memoir by a man who has opinions to express and values to defend.