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Review: ‘You Big Dummy’ by Eddie Johnson

Most athletes begin their book-writing career with an autobiography, but not Eddie Johnson. His first book, “You Big Dummy” was released in early September as a guide for athletes to create and sustain successful sports careers.

Johnson played in the NBA for 17 years and spent four seasons playing for the Phoenix Suns. He currently is a color analyst for Suns’ broadcasts, and has worked with Arizona State University in the past.

It is hard to believe an athlete as dedicated and disciplined as Johnson would ever make mistakes, but “You Big Dummy,” as a title, is a nod to Johnson’s favorite phrase to tell himself when he does something that could jeopardize his career.

Although much of his book contains anecdotes about his life, Johnson said he tried very hard to abstain from being autobiographical in “You Big Dummy.”

“I didn’t want to become the next athlete who wrote a book about himself,” said Johnson.

In contrast to Johnson’s attempts, the stories he divulged are very personal in nature, detailing trials and triumphs the sports star faced before beginning his career.

Johnson enclosed information about his childhood, including what it was like growing up in Chicago. He expressed his early devotion to basketball with stories of summer days spent playing at a local high school, only stopping to return home for meals.

The first piece of indispensable advice given by Johnson was to see “whether you really love the sport you play.” Johnson said he hopes when someone finishes reading “You Big Dummy,” they will be “in love” with the best way to have a successful athletic career.

The writing and publication process was completed entirely by Johnson, with editing help from Greg Boeck, a former sports reporter and current associate faculty member at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

“I covered him in the NBA for years,” said Boeck. “Helping him out with his book was kind of a natural progression in our friendship.”

Johnson’s book covered topics ranging from commitment to a particular sport to taking care of your body — as an athlete, or as a regular human being. This sets “You Big Dummy” apart from many other sports-centered books. It caters not only to athletes, but to everyone.

“I think anybody, any living, breathing, individual,” said Johnson, “can improve themselves by reading my book.”

Johnson outlined basic yet intuitive advice for athletes and non-athletes alike to improve their characters, within chapters bearing titles like “Smart Decisions Lead to Success” and “Respect is a Part of Life.”

“It’s kind of a road map for going about to achieve your dreams,” Boeck said of “You Big Dummy.”

“I just tried to keep it simple,” Johnson said, “I’ve had parents come up to me after reading with their young athlete at home, and they tell me they got just as much out of it as their kids did.”

Edward “Chip” Sarafin is an offensive lineman for ASU’s football team. Although Sarafin has not read “You Big Dummy,” he said he would be interested in reading it.

“Being a person of character and discipline,” said Sarafin, “those are things that everybody could live their life by.”