Skip to comments.Breaking News: Hall of Fame Basketball Player, Coach & Person John Wooden (1910-2010) dies at 99
Posted on 06/04/2010 8:51:29 PM PDT by Steelers6
John Wooden dies at 99; coach won 10 national basketball titles at UCLA Known as the 'Wizard of Westwood,' Wooden's accomplishments with the Bruins during his 27-season tenure made him one of the greatest coaches in sports history. He also created the 'Pyramid of Success' motivational program.
By Bill Dwyre and David Wharton 10:18 PM CDT, June 4, 2010
1 2 next Wooden delivers instructions during a timeout in the 1972 NCAA championship game at the L.A. Sports Arena. UCLA defeated Florida State, 81-76; Bill Walton, seated at left, was named the tournament's most outstanding player. (Rich Clarkson / Sports Illustrated)
Related links Share your thoughts and memories of John Wooden Timeline: John Wooden, 1910-2010 Photos: John Wooden | 1910-2010 Photos Video: Words of Wisdom from John Wooden Video Video: Coaching for people, not points John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who became an icon of American sports while guiding the Bruins to an unprecedented 10 national championships in the 1960s and '70s and remained in the spotlight during retirement with his "Pyramid of Success" motivational program, has died. He was 99.
Though his fame extended beyond the sports world, it was Wooden's achievements during 27 seasons at UCLA that put him in the company of such legendary coaches as the Green Bay Packers' Vince Lombardi and Notre Dame's Knute Rockne.
Wooden's string of championships began with back-to-back victories in 1964 and '65. Starting in 1967, his team ran off seven consecutive NCAA titles -- going 38 tournament games without a loss -- a feat unmatched before or since in men's college basketball.
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The Bruins won with such dominant big players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. They also won with teams -- such as Wooden's last squad in 1974-75 -- that had no marquee stars.
That team defeated Kentucky, 92-85, in the national championship game to give Wooden his 10th and final title. Mike Krzyzewski of Duke won his fourth national title this spring, matching the total won by the late Adolph Rupp of Kentucky.
In 40 years of coaching high school and college, Wooden had only one losing season -- his first. He finished with 885 wins and 203 losses, and his UCLA teams still hold an NCAA record for winning 88 consecutive games from 1971 through 1974.
The man known as the "Wizard of Westwood" -- a nickname he despised -- built his dynasty on simple precepts. He insisted that his squad be meticulously prepared and in top physical condition. He demanded crisp fundamentals and teamwork. He wanted his players to be smart, both on the court and in their lives away from the game.
To that end, the stern, dignified Midwesterner developed his "Pyramid of Success" -- a teaching system based on such traditional values as cooperation and personal responsibility. Years later advocates of the program used it as a motivational tool in the corporate world.
John Robert Wooden was born Oct. 14, 1910, in Hall, Ind., the third of six children. His father was a farmer who guided the family through tough economic times by stressing hard work, honesty and the value of education.
In 1932, Wooden, a three-time All-American, led Purdue to its only national basketball championship and married his high school sweetheart, Nell Riley. After graduation, he went to work as a coach and English teacher at Dayton, Ky., High School, where his first team went 6-11, and then at South Bend, Ind., Central High, where he nurtured a string of winning teams.
During World War II, Wooden enlisted in the Navy to serve as a physical trainer for combat pilots. Upon his discharge in 1946, he took a job as athletic director and coach of the basketball and baseball teams at what is now Indiana State University.
After two winning seasons there, it was on to UCLA in 1948. Wooden had highs and lows at first, his teams advancing to the NCAA tournament a few times but then falling to 14-12 in 1960.
The UCLA team of 1963-64 had no one taller than 6 feet 5 in the starting lineup but compensated for lack of size with veteran leadership and great quickness.
The so-called "Bruin Blitz" -- a zone press -- smothered opponents and allowed guards Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich to score in bunches. The Bruins stormed into the NCAA tournament undefeated and in the championship game pulled away for a 98-83 victory over Duke.
The winning continued into the next season, with the Bruins losing only twice. In the NCAA title game UCLA scored a 91-80 victory over Michigan.
Those first two championships had been won with strategy and fundamentals. After a mediocre season in 1965-66, Wooden and his Bruins would resume their streak with something else: star power.
The winter of 1966 brought Lewis Alcindor -- who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- to the starting lineup. Alcindor actually had enrolled the previous year, recruited from Power Memorial High School in New York City. However, he had to wait a season because at that time NCAA rules did not allow freshmen to play on the varsity team.
Alcindor, at 7 feet plus, dominated the game over the next three seasons, with the team playing in brand-new Pauley Pavilion. Not even a controversial rule change -- college basketball outlawed the dunk in a move thought to be aimed directly at Alcindor -- could faze him. In all, he led the Bruins to an 88-2 record and three straight titles.
Even with historic success, those years were not idyllic. Wooden, the ultimate conformist, was coaching in a time of great social upheaval.
Though UCLA players would always be conservative in appearance -- continually warned about the length of their sideburns -- they sometimes bristled at the coach's mandates. Alcindor spoke openly of his unhappiness at Westwood and at one point nearly transferred. On the court, there was constant pressure to be perfect.
Dick Enberg said it best he's the closest sports personality to perfection I've ever seen in 40 years of broadcasting and he's a great person too.
God and Jesus have called you to be with them and Nellie. Your work is done here.
This news has only been posted like 30 times. lol.
Great coach, wonderful and devoted husband. Makes he rest in peace with his sweet wife. God bless him.
Can you imagine who will be at that funeral?
From the Socks Up: The Extraordinary Coaching Life of John Wooden
By Mitch Horowitz (snip) -- For John Wooden, it all begins from the socks up.
On the eve of his ninety-fourth birthday, the man considered Americas winningest coach recalls a simple, but decisive routine that he used with each new seasons players during his twenty-seven years of coaching UCLAs legendary basketball team to unprecedented victory.
On the first day of practice, the coach would tell his hotshot recruits, Gentleman, today were going to figure out how to put our shoes and socks on. Some players would blanch. Wooden would calmly explain that most players are benched for blisters, and the easiest way to avoid them is to pay attention to the basics. He would meticulously show them how to roll up their socks and tighten their laces. I wanted it done consciously, not quickly or casually, he said. Otherwise we would not be doing everything possible to prepare in the best way.
It is pure Wooden simple yet ingenious, zeroing in on what really matters most.
Being from Indiana, I like him and so different from the other coaches. A gentleman. However, I still liked Bobby Knight and Bobby “Slick” Leonard.
My hometown team Drake University made it to the final four in 1969. UCLA beat Drake by only 3 points. Never was I so proud of a loss. John Wooden was pure class. He was much more than a basketball coach. No one on the horizon to replace him.
Sorry, could not resist. You are right, people need to search before they post.
Quote from John Wooden:
Michael Jordon is by far the best to every play the game of basketball. The biggest change to the game was the elimination of steps, traveling.
It seems that when FR was down they were all trying to post that same topic
Happy you saw the humor in it.