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ELEVENTH HEAVEN: Ed O'Bannon and the 1995 National Basketball Champion UCLA Bruins by Rob Miech

ELEVENTH HEAVEN: Ed O'Bannon and the 1995 National Basketball Champion UCLA Bruins

by Rob Miech

452 pages
The definitive story of UCLA's 1995 NCAA basketball championship team.

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About the Book
Ed O'Bannon had planned to help Nevada-Las Vegas establish a basketball dynasty. The national prep player of the year in 1990, courtesy of Basketball Times, O'Bannon yearned to help the Rebels defend their NCAA title in the 1990-91 season.

Instead, twists of fate placed O'Bannon at UCLA, where through immense challenges and struggles - including his rehabilitation from a devastating knee injury whose mending would involve a complex procedure that is still considered controversial and radical today - he would wind up contributing to the richest college hoops program in the land.

He did not just lead the Bruins to the 1995 championship; he demanded it, forcing those around him to match his own fortitude, mettle, and willpower.

In the 1995 national title game against defending titlist Arkansas, in Seattle, O'Bannon led the victorious Bruins with thirty points and seventeen rebounds, and he never took a seat on the bench. In the history of the NCAA Tournament, through 2014, only Clyde Lovellette - for Kansas in 1952 - and O'Bannon have tallied at least thirty points and fifteen boards while playing all forty minutes for the winning team in a championship game.

Eleventh Heaven examines what turned O'Bannon into a ferocious leader for the ages, a pillar of the Bruins every bit as indomitable as Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.

In the summer of 2014, O'Bannon's convictions and courage were again supremely tested as a five-year-old lawsuit, O'Bannon v. NCAA, went to trial. An epic verdict would be rendered in O'Bannon's favor. Experts would quickly tab him as the Curt Flood of college sports.

Here is the story of a kid who dreamed of fame and fortune, and became a selfless man driven to push others, a team that fed off him, and a legendary basketball program that had its luster restored because of his resolve. Coaches, teammates, and managers recall the dynamics of that team and season. It stunned O'Bannon, at times, to speak certain words that had only been feelings and thoughts that he had kept to himself for decades.

O'Bannon bared his soul to Miech, another principle figure who was there every step of the way during the scintillating 1994-95 season. Miech ventured to Thailand, Japan, the Czech Republic, New York, and many other burgs to pursue those who contributed to the last glorious chapter of Bruins basketball, to recount those days and games, and their lives since. O'Bannon detailed his life over nearly 100 hours with Miech.

That the twentieth anniversary of UCLA's last basketball title was approaching shocked those who made it happen, as did the reality of the spring of 2015 likely marking forty years with only one UCLA crown - theirs. It is the lone banner up among those ten in Pauley Pavilion's rafters not authored by legendary coach John Wooden. It mattered. Those players and coaches explain why in an explosive and revealing look at college basketball's elite institution.

 

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About the Author
Rob Miech has been a sportswriter since 1987. His first book, The Last Natural (Phenom as paperback)—about the 2010 junior college season that launched Bryce Harper to fame and fortune—was short-listed for a baseball literary magazine's book of 2012.

 

 

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