This has been all over the news for the past several days.
We thought he would live forever.
Mr. Wooden, you will always be remembered. RIP
John Wooden Dies at 99 -- NCAABB FanHouse
John Wooden Dies at 99
6/04/2010 10:25 PM ET By David Steele
Senior NCAA Writer
John Wooden has died at age 99.
The legendary former UCLA men's basketball coach preferred to be called not a coach, but a teacher. "That's what any coach should be,'' he once told an audience in Indianapolis in 2001. "You should follow the laws of teaching.''
That would still make Wooden one of the greatest teachers in the history of sports, not just in college basketball, where his team at UCLA won more championships than any other school and has the longest winning streak in any major sport in North America.
Wooden died Friday evening in Los Angeles, Calif.
In his 27-year career at UCLA, from 1948-75, Wooden -- nicknamed "The Wizard of Westwood,'' although he reportedly disdained the moniker -- led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, including a record seven in a row from 1967-73; that run included 38 straight NCAA tournament wins. From 1971 to 1974, his teams won 88 straight games, a streak that encompassed three of the last four of UCLA's seven-title streak, eclipsing a 47-game streak under Wooden in the late 1960s, and ending in unforgettable fashion Jan. 19, 1974, with a one-point defeat at Notre Dame.
Wooden's teams at UCLA defined the term "dynasty'' like few others in sports; their run of success -- the 10 championships took place in a 12-year span, interrupted only by Texas Western in 1966 and North Carolina State in 1974 -- puts them in a category with the New York Yankees, Boston Celtics and Montreal Canadiens.
In turn, his teams have been defined by Hall of Fame players such as Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich; by the records they compiled that were barely challenged in the ensuing four decades (schools have won consecutive national titles only twice since Wooden's retirement, Duke in 1991 and '92 and Florida in 2006 and '07), and by classic games, like the one on January 20, 1968, where UCLA and Alcindor lost to Houston and Elvin Hayes 71-69, to end the 47-game streak, before a sellout crowd at the Houston Astrodome and the first prime-time national-television audience for a college basketball game. (UCLA and Alcindor -- a three-time national player of the year and three-time Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament -- gained their revenge in the 1968 national semifinal with a 32-point rout of Houston on the way to Wooden's fourth championship.)
Wooden's path to victory made as great an impact at the wins themselves. It seems as if the "Pyramid of Success,'' the now world-renowned teaching framework, has been around forever and predates even Wooden -- but he was the one who invented it, in 1948, around the time he accepted the UCLA coaching job but the product of more than a decade of development starting when he was coaching and teaching in high school in South Bend, Ind. It is composed of 25 traits essential to success in any walk of life -- such as friendship and loyalty at its base and faith, patience and competitive greatness at its peak -- which, naturally, he applied to the sport he loved.
The quotes and aphorisms attributed to Wooden over the decades have long passed into popular lore: "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.'' "Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful." "Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you." "Hurry, but don't rush.'' And one that is inextricably linked to his famed pyramid: "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
Wooden was a success in basketball before he ever took the UCLA coaching job. Born October 14, 1910 in Hall, Ind., and raised in nearby Martinsville, he played guard for a state championship in high school, led Purdue to the national championship in 1932 and was a three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten player of the year and national player of the year. Wooden was the first person inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
As a college coach, beginning in 1946 after his discharge from the Navy, he had a record of 664-162; his win percentage of .804 was fourth all-time among Division I coaches entering the 2009-10 season. At his retirement, he was fifth all-time in victories. His record includes two years at the school that later became Indiana State, which he led to the NAIA tournament once -- and it would have been twice, according to him, except that he refused to take the team to the 1946 tourney because it did not allow African-American players. The NAIA changed that policy the following year, and one of Wooden's players was the first to integrate the championship tournament. At UCLA, he was 620-147.
It took UCLA 16 years after Wooden's arrival in 1948 to win the NCAA title (although it reached what was later to be coined the Final Four, the national semifinals, twice), but in the ensuing dozen years the Bruins were near-impossible to stop. From 1964-65, when Goodrich and Walt Hazzard led UCLA to the first of back-to-back championships, to 1974-75, when he capped his career with a final-game win over Kentucky -- announcing his imminent retirement just a day before that game -- the Bruins won 11 of his 19 conference championships and went undefeated four times.
Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965, as UCLA's on-campus arena, and in the 10 seasons he coached there, Wooden lost two games. In 2003, the court was re-named in his honor -- and in his wife's honor. Wooden married Nell Riley, his high-school sweetheart, in 1932; they had two children (James and Nancy) and she died in 1985. Wooden refused to allow the court to be named for him unless her name not only was added, but placed before his on the floor.
In his more than 30 years after retirement, Wooden wrote books, gave lectures and collected awards in droves, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. The award honoring the national player of the year was named for Wooden in 1976. He has been selected for the Naismith Hall of Fame, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame, among numerous others. He also was a regular attendee at courtside for UCLA home games through the 2008-09 season.