John Wooden

When the news of John Wooden’s death broke Friday night I was saddened but had a hard time getting the immediate impact. His legend was formed and retired before I was born, and my most vivid memories of him are nothing more than the camera shots of him sitting in the stands during NCAA tournament games.

My friend Tom was less sentimental, tweeting, “John Wooden dead at 99. Sure, it's sad... but not THAT SAD... he was NINETY-NINE.”

Indeed, the wise man lived a long, good life.

Then yesterday morning I found myself engrossed in the Sportscenter coverage of Wooden and the stories being written about him …

I’d known about the dominance of his UCLA teams and the big names he coached.

But I’d never heard of his “Pyramid of Success.” That he made a name for himself playing college ball at Purdue. That he might have ended up coaching at Minnesota had it not been for a snowstorm that kept school officials from calling Wooden to offer a coaching job. That he was such a big baseball fan. That he was such a man of faith …

One of my favorite stories of the day was about a serious offer he received during the 1960s to coach the Pittsburgh Pirates. But he turned it down, the story went, because he didn’t think the players would respect him.

Then there’s this heartwarmer

More good reads ...
a John Wooden, Who Built Incomparable Dynasty at U.C.L.A., Dies at 99
a Joe Posnanski: Wooden and Love
a Bob Ryan: No loose ends with Wooden

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