Standing Above the Crowd                         

                      Execute Your Game Plan To Be The Best You Can Be



                                                                                         James Being Interviewed by School Kid                                          



James Donaldson – Standing Above the Crowd Pt. 1

James Donaldson – Standing Above the Crowd Pt. 2

James Donaldson – Standing Above the Crowd Pt. 3

James Donaldson Blocks Michael Jordan’s Dunk -

James Donaldson Standing Above the Crowd for City Council


May 11, 2011
Former Sonics player writes guide to success in sports and life
By Jamie Griswold Editor
Former Sonics player James Donaldson is lending his experience to others in his new book "Standing Above the Crowd."
listen Listen: Former SuperSonic James Donaldson
Donaldson stops by to talk about his days on the court, his disappointing bid to become Seattle's mayor, and why so many African-American kids are raised in single parent homes. His new book is called "Standing Tall: How to Execute Your Game Plan to be the Best You Can Be."
A former Sonics player is lending his experience to others to serve as "a successful roadmap for high achievement in sports and life."

James Donaldson, a 7'2" former NBA all-star, says he didn't always have all the answers.

"When I was younger, I was very shy and insecure," says Donaldson. He says he almost missed out on playing basketball entirely because he was afraid.

"My high school basketball coach Chuck Calhoun he asked me to at least try the game, at least start practicing during my junior year, so that's what I did. Because I was so shy and insecure, and he was a very compassionate guy, he saw that. He would take the time to tape up all the windows and black out with newsprint and cardboard so the other kids couldn't stare in the gym and scare me away. That's how insecure I was at the time."

Donaldson recognizes many kids go through such struggles. "I know a lot of kids go through this kind of thing. They're just not quite comfortable. They don't have the self esteem. They lack the confidence."

He says he made it through with the help of trustworthy mentors. "A lot of great coaches along the way, great people along the way, that helped me make good decisions and then also kept me accountable."

Donaldson is involved with multiple organizations that work with young people.

"I just left the A plus program over at Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club. NBA player Martell Webster was there as our keynote speaker. Martell he leapt from high school to the pros, one of the very few that was successful at doing that. But in his keynote speech today to the young people, and to the audience, he's talking about if he has one regret, it's the fact that he didn't really emphasize education. He emphasized athletics, and based on his athletic potential, he got a chance to play in the pros, but that doesn't happen for most of the kids," says Donaldson. "The 95 percent, the other kids who don't make it to college, definitely don't make it to the pros. People forget about those kids and they end up on the streets, they end up in jail system, criminal justice system, they end up having kids all over the country, and being very irresponsible adults."

Donaldson's answer to that is to try and provide strong mentors to keep kids on a good path.

"I think a lot of our young people are missing that nowadays, as you see with our high school dropout rate. It was unheard of to think about dropping out of high school when we were kids, but nowadays 35 percent dropout rate in the state of Washington, 50 percent for kids of color. This is incredible, and it has to be turned around in order for our kids to get successful," says Donaldson.

"What we have to do is surround a lot of these young people with mentors. Mentors can come in every size, shape, color and age. It just needs to be a positive influence on these young kid's lives," he says.

In Donaldson's new book "Stand Above the Crowd," he offers his own experiences as a guide.

"I share with you experiences that I've had throughout my years as a 20 year professional NBA basketball player, a 20 year owner of a small business, decades of leadership throughout various communities and a recent run towards an elected office in my hometown of Seattle."


Jamie Griswold, Editor



Q&A: NBA's James Donaldson Talks About 'Standing Above the Crowd'
Former all-star shares the secrets that have kept him successful in new book
Brian Stimson Of The Skanner News
May 12, 2011
Former NBA All-Star James Donaldson wants to share his secrets to success.

In his new book, “Standing Above the Crowd,” Donaldson opens up about not backing down from a challenge, the importance of mentors and the keys to keep yourself focused during a time when many people are switching careers.

With three different distinct career changes under his belt – professional basketball player, small business owner and candidate for Seattle mayor’s office – Donaldson says he knows what it’s like keeping on task.

Here, the all-star talks to The Skanner News about his awkward and uncertain youth, career transitions and how he fed into an interesting piece of trivia from his days as a pro baller.


The Skanner News: What is your secret to success?

James Donaldson: I credit a lot the success I’ve had over the years with mentors who have helped me make good decisions and given me a lot of insight and expertise along the way.

TSN: Does that extend to your career in basketball, as well as your business and professional career?

JD: Yes, exactly, it started in basketball of course and helped to get that career underway, but along the way, I was able to meet new mentors and professional mentors that helped keep me going and on the right track.

TSN: Can you share some of the secrets to success from your book?

JD: One of the biggest lessons I learned was from an assistant coach who taught me never to be satisfied. I think nowadays a lot of us get satisfied and complacent, we quit pushing ourselves to excellence. I learned that at an early age, well before I became a professional athlete, that reaching a certain level isn’t good enough if I really want to reach the top of my profession. My lesson of never being satisfied, which is a chapter in the book, is one that I carry to this day.

TSN: Do you mentor a lot of young people yourself?

JD: I do. I do. Both officially and unofficially, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t bump into a young person who wants to ask me questions or understand what I’m doing and what I’ve had to do to accomplish what I’ve accomplished through my years. And I’m always willing to offer a helping hand, or some suggestions or some advice or words of encouragement. I think I do a lto of mentoring in that regard, even more than officially mentoring someone.

TSN: What is it that motivated you to write this book?

JD: As I’ve gone through two or three careers in my working life, as far as being a professional athlete and a small-business entrepreneur, and political candidate in the city of Seattle and very involved as a member of my community, I just got to a point in my life, here I am in my early ’50s where I have been looking back to whence I’ve come and understanding what it took to stay on track in the first place. And I just wanted to offer that advice to young people who are going to be following in my footsteps just as I followed in a lot of other people’s footsteps along the way. I look out there on societal landscape as a whole and I see a lot of our younger generation really struggling, trying to focus in on what they’re going to do, what they’re going to be and how they’re going to accomplish that. There’s so many more distractions nowadays and temptations and pitfalls than there were when I was a youngster, so I really want ot help younger folks navigate on that path to becoming successful.

TSN: When you were a young man, was your future career pretty well mapped out on the way to a

JD: Not at all, I actually didn’t play basketball until my last year of high school. Simply because I was a youngster like other youngster, where I was full of insecutiries, lack of confidence, very uncoordinated with my height and size and weight. DIdn’t have a high self esteem with myself. Most youngsters to through that phase at some point. It wasn’t until I met the great mentor, my high school basketball coach, Chuck Calhoun was his name down in Sacramento, Calif. Where Coach Calhoun came up beside me and encouraged me to take baby steps, to start fulfilling that potential a long time before I could see that potential. So that’s where I came from. It also helps to come from a solid family background that really emphasized academics for the first part. I knew I was going to be a good student and stay in school and at least graduate from high school, that was my pathway, but athletics came into the picture pretty late.

TSN: What separates this book from a lot of the other self-help books out there?

JD: Well I think that due to the fact that I have gone through two to three distint, different career transitions, a lot of people are struggling … how to remake themselves, how to keep a clear focus and how to keep a clear game plan and strategy when all of a sudden the rug gets pulled out from beneath them. So my book is really one of encouragement, not just the commonsense approach, but one that encourages you to take a deep introspective look at yourself, continue to have faith and trust in yourself, a higher power and those that you keep around you.

TSN: Was it difficult for when you went from basketball to having your own physical therapy clinic?

JD: Not really, I started the physical therapy clinic 21 years ago right in the middle of my 20-year basketball career. I had a devastating knee injury 10 years into my career, I was in my early 30s and the prognosis and outlook was very bleak on whether I’d ever return to playing again. So at that point I had what I call a lightbulb moment to go to therapy for five months. I asked myself, if I cannot play again, what am I going to do? I was a college grad so I was ok with that, and I had other skills, but there was nothing that I was as passionate about as basketball and that’s when physical therapy came to the forefront. I said, I know what I want to do now, create an environemtn where people can come and get well again, be surrounded by great physical therapists, my massage therapist, my nutritionalist, my athletic trainers … that’s when my epiphany hit hard and I went ahead and opened my first clinic. I did eventually make it back to play another 10 years to play professional basketball, but my clinic was off and running and maturing by the time I retired. During those early years, I was basically a hands off manager and owner, and after basketball I had something to transfer into.

TSN: Do most younger professional sports players do a good job of looking beyond their athletic careers  and planning for the future?

JD: No, most players do not do a good job of planning past their athletic careers. You see a story in the NY Times today about Tiki Barber, a great running back for the Ny Giants, where at 36 years of age, after being retired for four years, all of a sudden he’s coming back to try out for professional football again, because he never found that passion again, something that gets him out of bed, that has him putting the same amount of effort and emphasis to it as the sport that he loved. A lot of athletes are challenged with that. Most of us retire early. A couple of reasons I was motivated to join the Legends of Basketball, otherwise known as the NBA Retired Players Association as a board member because less than 20 percent of us have a college degree. And also, 85 percent of us will be going through a divorce upon retirement, for a career that lasts 3 years on average. Those are a lot of dynamics that are not in your favor. What we try to do on a board level, we try to create programs that will be helpful to the guys on their transition, even before they retire.

TSN: Did that experience help you craft the book?

JD: It did. It really did. Part of my fraternity, is hundreds of hundreds of retired players who are trying to find themselves. I was lucky that out of an adverse situation such as the devastating knee injury, to find what I wanted to do next that wasn’t about playing.

TSN: Now a couple of basketball questions. I’ve read that you never even attempted a three-pointer in your entire NBA career. Why?

JD: Well, you gotta remember, I played back in the 80s and 90s. the three-point game wasn’t as totally utilized by every player on the court back then. You had guys on the team whose specific job was to shoot three-pointers. So, I played my whole career – and I’m the answer to a trivia question if you ever here this – who played the most amount of games, the most amount of seasons without ever, ever attempting a three-point shot and that’s me. As the years wore on and I became aware of this trivia, I just said, it’s not my role, not my strength to hoist up three-pointers. I’d see guys like Manut Bol throw them up there from all over the place and Ralph Samson from time to time and other 7-footers. But it was not my game and I had no inclination to give it a try.

TSN: During your entire career, were there ever any players or teams that you absolutely dreaded getting on the court with either because they were so good or so dirty?

JD: Yeah, I do werite about that in the book. Of course the bad boys up in the Detroit who were filthy and nasty … Rick Mahorn and Bill Lambier, I’m not sure which was which, it didn’t matter. They’d put you in those double team sandwiches and knock the living daylights out of you from time to time. So tough teams like the Pistons, but also hall of fame caliber teams like the LA Showtime Lakers, with Magic, and kareem and Cooper and Worthy and Scott, Pat Riley running the show. Hall fo famers all the way around. I thought I played my best when I went up against the best. I learned early in my career that I couldn’t shy away from competition and from feeling a little bit intimidated by those little things. That’s another thing I try to convey to the young people out there. Step up to the challenge. Make it happen.

TSN: And finally, who are you rooting for in the NBA Finals?

JD: Well it looks like the Miami Heat is the one who has their act together, playing better and better as the playoffs go on. Originally I had Miami and the Lakers picked to match up in the finals, but I think I’m going to go for Miami and my beloved Dallas Mavericks in the finals.


Visit for more information. If you order the book from his website, Donaldson will personally autograph the book.



NEW YORK - JUNE 03: Former NBA player James Donaldson attends NY Giant Justin Tuck's Celebrity Billiards Tournament at Slate on June 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for All Stars Helping Kids)

Jason Kempin

NEW YORK - JUNE 03: Former NBA player James Donaldson attends NY Giant Justin Tuck's Celebrity Billiards Tournament at Slate on June 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for All Stars Helping Kids)

James Donaldson's insatiable appetite for new adventures in life has transformed him into an author.

Donaldson, a 7-foot-2 center during his basketball playing days with Washington State and the Seattle SuperSonics, has written a motivational book titled "Standing Above the Crowd."

Donaldson owns a physical therapy business, dabbles in motivational speaking and hopes to run for political office again after a failed bid to become mayor of Seattle in 2009.

Authoring a book is new territory for Donaldson. The book is aimed at youths, athletes and business people.

"It actually came out better than I thought it would," Donaldson said. "Like most people, I didn't really feel I had a story to tell to really share and help people out.

"But I do a lot of speaking engagements, especially with young people around the country. I really felt this would be a great way to stand behind the message I'm conveying to them when I'm speaking to them.

"Encouraging everyone to be the best they can be. Setting a goal and working toward it. Staying positive, and having a great attitude."

Donaldson's basketball career is a testament to the message he is spreading.

A self-described "chubby, chunky kid who weighed over 300 pounds," Donaldson never played organized basketball until his senior year in high school.

Raised in a family that stressed academics and had no sports background, Donaldson had hardly touched a basketball in his life before the coach at his Sacramento, Calif., high school talked him into just practicing — not playing in any games — as a junior.

He showed enough potential as a senior to land a scholarship at Washington State.

Donaldson rarely played as a freshman with the Cougars, but he wound up in the WSU Hall of Fame. He was forced to play in Italy his first year as a pro after failing to stick with the Seattle SuperSonics as a fourth-round draft pick in 1979, but he joined the Sonics the following year and spent 14 seasons in the NBA.

Donaldson, 53, will soon begin a national and international tour to promote his book. Pacific Northwest dates and locations have yet to be finalized.

Donaldson expects the book to be in some book stores in late April. Published by Aviva of New York, autographed books are available now at Single copies cost $19.95, and discounts are available for multiple purchases.


Media Contact: Derek Wing
(425) 602-3107

James Donaldson to Speak at Bastyr University Commencement
Former NBA All-Star and Seattle mayoral candidate to address graduating class

Kenmore, Wash. (April 29, 2011) — Bastyr University is pleased to announce James L. Donaldson III as the principal speaker at the school's 30th annual spring commencement exercises at Benaroya Hall at 1 p.m. Monday, June 20, 2011.

Donaldson is a former National Basketball Association All-Star whose career spanned 14 seasons with teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Seattle SuperSonics. More recently, he ran for Seattle mayor in 2009 and is the author of the aptly named motivational book Standing Above the Crowd (Donaldson is 7 feet 2 inches tall).

"James Donaldson is the ideal person to address our graduating students," said Bastyr University President Daniel K. Church , PhD. "As a man who has had success in many facets of his life, Mr. Donaldson can pass along his wisdom and experience to the next generation, inspiring them during a time when their lives are full of uncertainty but also endless possibility."

Adding to Donaldson's appeal as speaker, he is a strict vegetarian, a strong advocate for the empowerment of women and people of color, and was a longtime member of the Bastyr University Board of Regents. His passion for the University's mission and ability to touch lives through his inspiring and motivational speaking were also factors in his selection, as were his stories about making the right choices, overcoming fear and self-doubt, and staying resilient and goal-focused in the face of tough challenges.

At the commencement exercises, Bastyr University will award students with doctoral, master's and bachelor's degrees in: naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, nutrition, exercise science and wellness, herbal sciences and health psychology, as well as certificates in naturopathic midwifery and Chinese herbal medicine.


Ex-NBA player talks about passion for mentoring (w/ gallery)
By Michelle Dupler, Herald staff writer
James Donaldson Visits CUP Church
Former NBA player and All-Star James Donaldson shows his book "Standing Above the Crowd" to Zach Coleman, 14, right, of Richland, Ken Allread of West Richland, Kallen Haney, 11, of West Richland, and Richard Whittlesey, 10, of Richland, on Wednesday during an appearance at Central United Protestant Church in Richland. In addition to speaking to about 20, Donaldson helped promote Ignite Youth Mentoring, in which Allread and Haney are participating.

Gallery: James Donaldson Visits CUP Church

RICHLAND -- Watching 7-foot-2-inch James Donaldson be surrounded by children is a bit like imagining Gulliver amidst a throng of tiny Lilliputians.

There aren't many people Donaldson doesn't tower over with his extraordinary height -- even his fellow NBA players during his 20-year career in professional basketball.

But the message he had for about two dozen Tri-City kids sitting on a gymnasium floor at Richland's Central United Protestant Church on Wednesday was that it isn't just physical stature that makes someone the tallest person in the room -- it's attitude that makes the man or woman, he said.

"I wasn't a pro athlete because I was 7 feet tall," Donaldson said. "I was a pro athlete because I had a good attitude."

Donaldson has turned his experiences playing basketball for Washington State University, the Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz, as well as his community involvement and experience owning his own physical therapy business, into a book called Standing Above the Crowd, designed to inspire and motivate anyone looking to lead a successful life.

In particular, he emphasizes the importance of having mentors -- a message he drove home to the children in the church gymnasium.

"Mentoring is a huge, huge piece of my life that helped keep me on track and make good decisions," he said.

He said his mentors ranged from the crossing guards in Seattle who made sure he stood up straight when he was 10 years old to the basketball coaches who later guided his career.

Donaldson's visit to Richland was at the impromptu invitation of Ignite Youth Mentoring, a local nonprofit that works to connect at-risk youths with adult mentors who can be positive role models and help guide the children to make good choices that will keep them in school and out of the system.

The nonprofit was started by Todd Kleppin, who spent nine years as a youth pastor at Central United Protestant Church before taking over as Ignite's executive director full-time in January.

As a youth pastor, Kleppin saw a lot of children and teenagers in the community whom no one was reaching, and who weren't learning basic life skills or how to make good choices, such as staying in school and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

"We want to help build the kid up -- help them establish good life skills, good values and a good sense of self-worth and purpose," Kleppin said. "Through a relationship with someone outside of their world, they can see a world that can give them a little bit of hope for the future."

Donaldson emphasized to the children at the church that their future success will come from within. They have to learn to tune out negative voices and believe in their own abilities.

"Sometimes we get opportunities in life where we're faced with a challenge, and we're either going to tackle that challenge or tuck our tails and run," he said. "I want you guys to be able to face challenges and face adversity head-on. Don't be afraid of failure. Don't be afraid of success. ... It's the people who think they can who win."

He encouraged each one of them to complete high school and go to college, to have realistic goals and a back-up plan.

He said he never planned to become a professional athlete -- he started playing basketball because he wanted to go to college.

He ended up getting a basketball scholarship to WSU, where he double-majored in sociology and psychology. His hometown SuperSonics drafted him.

A serious knee injury at age 32 nearly ended his basketball career. That's when he opened his physical therapy business as a back-up plan, even though he went on to play another 10 years.

He also told them to make an agreement with themselves for something they want to achieve, and then do it.

Donaldson's promise to himself was that he would never drink alcohol or do drugs. He's kept that promise for 40 years.

"My question is, 'What is your promise to you?' "

Former Supersonic Stops in Yakima

By Ian Cull. Published Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Former Seattle Supersonic James Donaldson makes a stop in Yakima to promote his new book "Standing Above the Crowd."

Donaldson played three seasons with the Sonics in the early 1980s. In his book, he talks about the importance of gaining self-confidence and setting yourself on the right path, especially as a teenager.

Donaldson says sometimes it takes a great mentor for teens to realize their potential.

"In basketball for instance, I didn't play until my last year in high school because of years and years saying, 'I'm just not good enough.' But it took a great coach who became my mentor who said, 'hey, let's just have you take little baby steps," Donaldson said.

Donaldson also visited Washington middle school and the YMCA in Yakima. He now works as a mentor and entrepreneur in Seattle. He'll continue his book tour through eastern Washington through the end of the week.

Donaldson still living large

April 27, 2011 by Roger Underwood  

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Ex-Sonic remains a big figure — just not on the hardwood ||

[Roger Underwood] YAKIMA, Wash. — During the early 1980s, James Donaldson was a big part of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Literally, a big part.

“My goodness,” a young woman said Tuesday while shaking Donaldson’s hand at a YMCA book signing and autograph session, “look how big your hand is compared to mine.”

“Well,” Donaldson said, smiling, “big hands go with being a big person.”

“How tall are you?” she asked.

To which Donaldson answered for the umpteen thousandth time, no doubt, “I am 7-2.” Not to mention 275 pounds.

Back in the day, when Donaldson was still learning the game, his stature was not lost on more established teammates, either. During the 1981-82 season, for example, whenever Donaldson would get the ball near the basket, Gus Williams would howl from the Seattle bench, “He’s yours, big fella.”
[James Donaldson] Shayla Hamilton, 11, left, and her grandmother, Grace Smith, right, snap photos of former WSU basketball player, Seattle SuperSonic and NBA All-Star James Donaldson while Lucy Valderhaug waits for a her book to be signed as Donaldson meets fans and signs copies of his new book in front of Inklings bookstores on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. (Sara Gettys/Yakima Herald-Republic)

Tuesday, reminded of those occasions, Donaldson sat back in his chair and smiled. “Yeah,” he said, “Gus, Fred Brown, J.J. (John Johnson). They were guys who helped me learn, making sure I arrived early and stayed late. Fun times.”

The ’80s, after all, were good to the NBA and vice versa. ESPN and the proliferation of cable TV beamed an increasingly competitive and glamorous game to millions.

Of course, the arrival of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and the captivating Celtics-Lakers rivalry helped. So did David Stern — for awhile, at least.

The Sonics, meanwhile, were in a state of decline, their skids greased by ill-advised personnel moves lowlighted by draft choices such as Danny Vranes and Jon Sundvold.

In 1979, weeks after winning its only NBA championship, Seattle did itself no favors by using the sixth and seventh picks on James Bailey and Vinnie Johnson, respectively. But the Sonics did find a proverbial diamond in the rough in Donaldson, drafted in the fourth round (73rd overall choice) from Washington State.

Though clearly a project — Donaldson played his first professional season in Italy — he returned to become a popular and productive Sonic and, with Dallas in 1988, he was an All-Star.

The emerging league needed people like Donaldson. He was hard-working, polite and completely void of the sense of entitlement so many players had, even then.

And now Donaldson is back, giving back.

In addition to writing his book, appropriately entitled, “Standing above the Crowd,” Donaldson has served as a mentor to many, giving motivational speeches and spending time with youth as he’d done earlier Tuesday to a sixth-grade PE class at Washington Middle School.

His book is meant to inspire readers to more closely approach their potential through desire, dedication and discipline, using his own personal triumphs as examples.

He owns The Donaldson Clinic, a physical therapy facility in Mill Creek, and ran for mayor of Seattle in 2009.

Speaking of politics, Donaldson was asked the state of Seattle’s climate regarding another NBA team.

“There’s nothing new,” he said. “People are still talking and hoping, but right now there’s nothing on the radar screen. I still think it’s a five-year outlook to do everything that’s necessary, including getting an arena.”

The 53-year-old Donaldson, meanwhile, said he stays in touch with several of his old teammates, including Brown and Johnson, and that former coach Lenny Wilkens helped with portions of his book.

“Lenny had a lot of stories,” Donaldson said. “There were some really neat things he talked about, but some really sad stories, too, about some of the social issues he faced as a young player.”

None of which dulled Donaldson’s keen sense of humor, however.

When it was mentioned that he was born in Heacham, England, Donaldson said,

“I was 2 when we left, so I don’t remember anything about living there. I am jazzed about the wedding, though.”

In the 1980s, the NBA needed people like James Donaldson.

It still does.

• Roger Underwood’s Under the Radar blog is at He can be

reached at 509-577-7694 or


James Donaldson Event     PDF     Print     E-mail
Former Sonics basketball player, James Donaldson will be HERE at Standing Above the Crowd

Inklings Bookshop, tomorrow (April 26th) from 4:00-6:00pm. He will be talking about and signing his book,

Standing Above the Crowd.


His book is full of stories about making the right choices, overcoming fearand self doubt, and staying resilient and goal focused in the face of tough challenges.   


- - - - - - - - Did you know? - - - - - - - -
- He didn't start playing basketball until he was a junior in high school.
- His professional basketball career included playing time with the Seattle Supersonics, San Diego/L.A Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New YorkKnicks, and Utah Jazz.  He also played for several teams in Spain,Italy, and Greece.
- He toured with the Harlem Globetrotters.   

James Donalson b&w bball- He was born in Heacham, England, and grew up in California.

- When he retired from the NBA he had 8,203 career points, 7,492 career rebounds and 1,267 career blocks.



Hope to see you all at this great event!



James Donaldson shakes the hand of Holy Names Academy students (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

“Standing Above the Crowd,” is a new book by former NBA star James Donaldson. He literally stands above the crowd. At 7’4”, the ceiling above the New Hong Kong Restaurant’s stage was almost not high enough for James. His head touches it if he stands up straight.

He was there to present to one of the winners at the Diversity Makes a Difference Scholarship Gala on April 1.

High school students from all over Western Washington just swarmed around him for photos and autographs.



By HOWIE STALWICK Senior Correspondent
Posted Apr 1, 2011



| More

THE LARGER-than-life world of 7-foot-2 James Donaldson has expanded yet again to include one more new adventure. Donaldson, the former Washington State and NBA standout, has authored a motivational book titled “Standing Above the Crowd.”


onaldson has always towered above people physically. However, his personable nature and adventurous spirit makes it easy for him to relate to people of all sizes, ethnicity, religions and backgrounds. The Sacramento native-turned-long-time-Seattle-resident is a small business owner, motivational speaker and former candidate for mayor who has aimed his book at youths, athletes and business people.

“It actually came out better than I thought it would,” Donaldson said. “Like most people, I didn’t really feel I had a story to tell to really share and help people out.

“But I do a lot o

f speaking engagements, especially with young people around the country. I really felt this would be a great way to stand behind the message I’m conveying to them when I’m speaking to them.

The book includes a number of interesting nuggets from his days at WSU, including the painstaking work of WSU track coach Rick Sloan teaching Donaldson how to run


Donaldson’s basketball career is a testament to the message he is spreading. A self-described “chubby, chunky kid who weighed over 300 pounds,” Donaldson never played organized basketball until his senior year in high school. Raised in a family that stressed academics and had no sports background, Donaldson had hardly touched a basketball in his life before the coach at his high school talked him into just practicing -- not playing in any games -- as a junior. He showed enough potential as a senior to grab George Raveling's attention and a scholarship at Washington State.

Donaldson rarely played as a freshman with the Cougars, but he wound up in the WSU Hall of Fame and the Pac-10's Basketball Hall of Honor after blocking a conference record 176 shots, grabbing 677 rebounds and scoring 718 points.

He was forced to play in Italy his first year as a pro after failing to stick with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, but he joined the Sonics the following year and spent 14 seasons in the NBA, where he earned All-Star honors as a Dallas Maverick.

Donaldson, 53, will soon begin a national and international tour to promote his book. He plans to make stops in Spokane and Pullman in late April. Donaldson expects the book to be in some book stores in April. Published by Aviva of New York, autographed books are available now at Single copies cost $19.95, and discounts are available for multiple purchases.

“Encouraging everyone

to be the best they can be. Setting a goal and working toward it. Staying positive, and having a great attitude.”



June 22, 2011

•  Former NBA All-Star now coaches businesses to win

•  ‘I learned the lesson about never being satisfied’
James Donaldson

James Donaldson knows w

hat it’s like to win – and lose – in the take-no-prisoners world of the National Basketball Association. A former player with the Seattle Supersonics, San Diego/L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz, Mr. Donaldson has now taken lessons learned on the basketball court into the world of business.

“I learned the lesson about never being satisfied,” Mr. Donaldson says, recalling a point in his basketball career at Washington State University when a coach gave him life-changing advice. “Don’t become complacent. You can enjoy success, but you also have to learn from the failures. Keep pushing yourself to b

e the very best you can be.”

(James Donaldson talk

s about applying NBA lessons to business and life in today’s CVBT Audio Interview via iPhone and Skype. Please left-click on the link below to listen now or right-click on the link to download the MP3 audio file for later listening.)

He’s put many of his ideas and experiences into a new book, “Standing above the Crowd: Success Strategies in Athletics, Business, Community and Life,” which was published in May.

“Success won’t come overnight. I wasn’t an overnight success by any means but I’ve been able to hang in there a long time to enjoy the joy in the morning that comes down the road,” says Mr. Donaldson. “One thing I learned in athletics is that it’s not always good to just play harder, you have to play smarter.”

A small business entrepreneur for over 20 years as president and owner of The Donaldson Clinic of Mill Creek, Wash., he says he sees that businesses go through natural cycles of ebbs and flows. What often separates the winners from the losers, he says, is the ability of the business owner to know when to call a timeout, change out the players and when to run another play.



June 18th 2011
WSU celebrities confirmed for Cougar Legends Weekend

James Donaldson

Donaldson played for the Cougar basketball team from 1975-79, averaging 9.6 ppg and 8.1 rpg in 107 career games, including 76 starts. The 7-2 center out of Heachem, England earned Second Team All-Pacific-8 Conference honors as a junior, leading the Cougars in rebounding while finishing second in the conference as a junior and senior. As a junior he set a WSU single-season record with 82 blocks before rejecting 76 shots, the second most in Cougar single-season history, as a senior. Donaldson currently holds the WSU record for career blocked shots (176) and is among the top-10 in career rebounds (677) and shooting percentage (.542). He was a fourth-round draft pick by the Seattle SuperSonics, going on to play for San Diego, Los Angeles (Clippers), Dallas, New York, Utah while being named an All Star in 1988. Donaldson was later inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame and the Pacific-10

Conference Basketball Hall of Fame.







James posing with Book


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