What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
There are far too many of you under the age of 40 who have no idea what the world lost yesterday. Simply put, John Wooden was the greatest, both for his success on the court and for the legacy of leadership he leaves us.
One of the reasons why many younger people never even heard of Wooden is once he retired, he was never one to spend a lot of time engaging in the empty pontificating many sports figures have turned to in the media-flooded world we inhabit. Rather, Wooden made it a point to live by the words he imparted to others. To me, the following quote exemplifies this best.
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
Those words are as important today as they ever were; sports and life in general have become far too full of people who are far too full of themselves. No great achievement was ever accomplished alone; this is why Wooden always said the main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team. The world will miss Coach Wooden, and sorely needs more like him.
And if you are one of those under-40s who have no idea who Wooden was, please start your exposure with these 99 facts, his “Pyramid of Success” (.pdf file), and this biography from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
John Robert Wooden was born in Martinsville, Indiana on October 14th, 1910. While attending high school in Martinsville he won All-State prep honors in basketball three times while leading them to the State title game his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. In 1927, his high school team won the State title.
Next, he attended Purdue University and won varsity letters in both basketball and baseball. Wooden won All-America honors as a player for Purdue his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. In 1932, he led the Boilermakers to the NCAA College Basketball Title. Wooden has said that his greatest accomplishment at Purdue was making Purdue’s academic honor roll and being awarded the Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics for 1932.
After graduating from Purdue in 1932, Coach Wooden married his high school friend, Nell. He taught for two years at Dayton High School in Kentucky where he also coached all sports. After two years, he moved back to Indiana where he found a job at South Bend Central High where he taught English and coached basketball, baseball, and tennis. During his eleven years of coaching high school basketball he amassed a 218-42 record.
During World War II, John Wooden served as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and upon his discharge in 1946 he went to Indiana Teachers College and became the athletic director, baseball coach, and basketball coach for two years before coming to UCLA. While coaching at Indiana Teachers College, he recorded a 47-14 record as the basketball coach.
1949 marked UCLA’s first year with John Wooden as the head coach of the basketball program. While at UCLA, Wooden continued to develop the unique teaching method he called, “The Pyramid of Success.” He used the “The Pyramid of Success” to not only coach his teams but to also live his life. He remained head coach of the Bruins until 1975 when he announced his retirement prior to the team’s attempt to win a 10th national championship. The team came through in the title game of 1975 and Wooden finished his career with 10 NCAA Championships as a coach. During Wooden’s twenty-seven seasons at UCLA his record was an amazing 316-68.
While coaching at UCLA, the Bruins led by Coach Wooden posted amazing record after record. Under Wooden, the Bruins won 10 NCAA Championships, including 7 in a row between 1966-1973. During this streak of 7 straight championships, the Bruins won 38 straight NCAA Tournament games. Also, Coach Wooden led the Bruins during their 88 game winning streak which spanned over four seasons. Wooden’s Bruins compiled four 30-0 seasons and captured 19 conference championships. At Pauley Pavilion under Wooden, the Bruins were near perfect winning 149 out of 151 games.
A few of the many basketball related awards and honors that Coach Wooden has won include: member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, member of the All-Time All-American Basketball Team, member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, six-time College Basketball Coach of the Year, 1970 The Sporting News Sports Man of the Year, Friar’s Club Coach of the Century, 1973 Sports Illustrated Sports Man of the Year.
While Wooden is proud of his accomplishments as a coach, he is more proud of what he has accomplished off the court. He has said many times that he would rather be remembered as a great person than as a great basketball coach. Wooden has been recognized by many organizations as an outstanding member of the community for his contributions and involvement.
John Wooden will always be remembered not only for his success on the basketball court, but for the way he lived his life and the wisdom he imparted on others.