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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Death of a Wizard...

I have been blogging for awhile now, and I can safely say that I have not talked about Basketball at all at either my current site, or my previous blog site. Today I will make an exception and switch from speaking about the oval ball to the round ball.

Yesterday, John Wooden passed away at the age of 99 in Los Angeles. In this country, his name is a synonym for excellence in college basketball. His teams at UCLA won 10 National Titles in a 12 year period. His UCLA Bruins still hold the record for the longest winning streak in basketball, winning 88 straight games from 1971-1974. He has coached NBA players like Kareen Abdul-Jabbar (who played under the name Lew Alcindor at UCLA) Jamaal Wilkes, Walt Hazzard and Bill Walton. His nickname at UCLA was "The Wizard of Westwood" 

This was a man who considered himself a teacher, first and foremost. After graduating from Purdue University, he was an English teacher and high school basketball coach in his native Indiana. (The only person to be in the College Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach) He brought with him to UCLA a little bit of the midwest of the US that emphasized hard work, integrity, and decency. This was a coach who never blew his cool in a game, his players let their game do the talking-you just did not see UCLA players engage in the trash-talking that is such a big part of the game today.  His Athletes also graduated, many achieving great success in a variety of areas that were not even related to basketball. Here are some of his best quotes:  He talked about his Pyramid of Success, with all of the qualities that he felt would make somebody a success in life.

This was a coach who believed so much in the basics that the first thing that he would do every first practice of the basketball season was to teach his players how to put their socks on correctly, without wrinkles. His midwestern reasoning was that if you did not put your socks on correctly, you would get blisters, and that would keep you from being able to play. It was as simple as that. Here is a link for more on this man who was a great coach, teacher and family man.

John Wooden can now be with his wife, Nell, who passed away in 1985. The only woman he ever loved and the only woman he ever kissed.

RIP Coach.

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