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Feinstein gives readers fun inside look

In the 25 years since John Feinstein pulled the curtain back on then-Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight in "A Season On The Brink," he has told the stories of sports figures big and small.

He has written about weekly lunches with Red Auerbach, celebrated the Army-Navy football rivalry, shared the stories of a season inside Patriot League basketball, documented the real world of the PGA Tour and told the inside story of a Baltimore Ravens season.

In his latest book, "One On One: Behind The Scenes With The Greats Of The Game," (Little, Brown and Co., $27.99), Feinstein writes his own story, telling about his interaction with the people about whom he was writing.

Feinstein's gift is his ability to talk to people and to get them to talk to him. He long ago reached celebrity author status, but even before, Feinstein understood how to approach people and, even if they stood on opposite sides of a subject, he could volley with them.

Sometimes, relationships turned frosty. Knight hated "A Season On The Brink" and declined an offer to talk about the book 25 years later. Feinstein's relationship with Tiger Woods isn't likely to ever be warm and cozy.

In "One On One," Feinstein shares the stories he tells at speaking engagements, the kind of "What's so and so really like?" stories that he's accumulated through his uncommon access to many of sport's biggest figures.

He shares private stories about Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith, Jim Valvano and Lefty Driesell.

Feinstein tells of pitching the book idea to Knight and, after leaving the explosive coach, having Krzyzewski look at him and ask, "Are you out of your ... mind?"

He tells of riding to Charlotte with Smith, who asked Feinstein to drive his car back to Chapel Hill - and Smith explaining where he kept the registration in case Feinstein got pulled over for speeding.

He tells of being questioned by the KGB, of a four-hour dinner with Tiger when the subject was primarily Earl Woods and the friends he made with people who aren't famous.

It's a book about Feinstein, who is himself a collection of colorful stories. In "One On One," he does what few writers can do - take readers to places they couldn't otherwise go. It's a fun trip.