Saturday, June 5, 2010

John Wooden 1910-2010

It seems I have started a trend lately writing obituaries with my posts on Darcy Pohland and Gary Coleman. I do not want to write any more after this one, but I feel compelled to share a couple videos, articles and my thoughts on the passing of the greatest coach of all time in any sport. At least that was the conclusion of a poll in the July 29, 2009 edition of Sporting News. You can read the article of the list of sports' 50 greatest coaches of all time, as selected by a panel of 118 Hall of Famers, championship coaches and other experts by clicking here.

John Wooden truly was a legend. He was the standard by which ALL other coaches are measured. And he remained humble and modest until the day he died. Here is a portion of a wonderful interview he did at age 98 just last year the day after the poll came out:

If the video does not open, click here.

One of my favorite comments he made was when he called Kareem Abdul-Jabbar "Lewis." If you are not a college basketball fan like I am, you may not know before he converted to Islam, Abdul-Jabbar was Lew Alcindor. At least that is what everyone else called him; Coach Wooden still called him "Lewis."

Here is the video obituary ESPN ran after Coach Wooden passed away yesterday:

If the video does not open, click here.

The reason both he and Alcindor were three-time All Americans was back then freshmen were not eligible to play on a NCAA team. It was not until 1972 freshmen were allowed to compete. There is also a good article by the Associated Press that should appear right after the video.

An interesting note for all of us Minnesota Gopher fans is in 1948 when Coach Wooden went to UCLA, he was set to take the job at the University of Minnesota, but because a snowstorm knocked out telephone communication, he went to UCLA. You can read about it in David Nielsen's informative article from Scripps News Service by clicking here. It has a great list of all of the accomplishments of the Wizard of Westwood, as he was affectionately known.

He not only coached ten National Championships, he also played on one and even played on an Indiana High School State Championship. He won at every level he ever competed.

I was fortunate to see him coach two games when I was in Berkeley in the 1974 and 1975 games against UCLA as UCLA beat up on Cal in what was then the Pac-8 Conference. 1975 was his last year and when he was introduced before the game, everyone that could, gave him a standing ovation. Everyone respected Coach Wooden.

He will be remembered not only as a great coach, but also for his philosophy on life. He is often quoted about his thoughts on sports and life. Click here to see a partial list of his quotes.

I wish I could have played for him. From everything I have heard and read about him, every life he touched became better because of him.
He remained sharp as a tack mentally and mentored coaches and his former players until the day he died.

RIP Coach.

I look forward to your comments.




Anonymous said...


Your comment, "The reason both he and Alcindor were three-time All Americans was back then freshmen were not eligible to play on a NCAA team." also is a reason Wooden could and did win was that his players stayed for 4 years. Unlike today's players who are 1 and done.

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

As always you have great stuff to pass on to make us reflect on our own small worlds. You help us expand
that world to see a larger picture.
Hope you are well.
Thank you!

Chad said...

Quite the fitting article on Dad's birthday. Nice work paying tribute to a coach. Love ya Big Brother!