John Wooden, famous basketball coach of the 10 time NCAA champion UCLA Bruins, author, speaker, basketball Hall of Fame inductee as both a player and coach and overall great man, passed last Friday, June 4th, 2010.
I was not a former player of his or a personal friend either. In fact, I’ll even admit, I did not much like his teams growing up (sorry, I’m a Big East fan, more specifically, the Providence College Friars!). But even when I had to suffer through another missed NCAA championship to UCLA, I had to respect what they accomplished as a team. And the common link to those 10 NCAA National Championships was Coach Wooden.
Well the past 8 years, I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area and I’ve gotten to know and appreciate the local traditions and heros from the area. But no person is more uniformly admired than Coach John Wooden. He was more than a basketball coach to many young men. He was an educator first before he was just a basketball coach, and he became a mentor to many of them as well.
His quotes are famous, like, “Be quick, but don’t hurry” or “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Or my favorite, “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
He has left behind a legacy and standard that we can all strive to attain. Thank you coach for your contributions. We are all better off because of you.