John Wooden story

<p>With the passing of the greatest coach of all time and maybe one of the great human beings of all time, I think back of the time that I had an encounter with him. It was most likely 1968. My father was an alumnus of USC and also received his masters from USC and was moonlighting at the wind tunnel there. We had access to one of his professor's tickets for sporting events and went to all of the USC basketball games. I was 11 and my brother was 7 and he was totally crazy for USC basketball. He had an outfit that matched the USC cheerleaders and he would go onto the court and cheer with the student cheerleaders. At one game, John Wooden happened to be sitting behind us for the game. He was scouting out the PAC 8 team that he would play the following night. My brother went to the USC coach and the players to get their autographs. He even got the autographs of the refs. John Wooden asked my brother if he would like his autograph as he was the coach for UCLA. My brother said no way would he want the coach of his arch rival to sign his program. My brother went to the bathroom with my dad late in the game and John Wooden tapped me on the shoulder. "Give me that program, your brother might not want it now, but some day he might think it is fun that he did not want my autograph and then I signed it anyway." Of course my brother treasures that program to this day.</p>


<p>I just posted another link on one of the other threads about Wooden. I went to USC and honestly would have been absolutely delighted to get Wooden's autograph. What a great man. </p>

<p>Funny story.</p>

<p>John Wooden was such a remarkable man. The players on his teams thought of him like a father. He had such a kind heart. After his wife Nell died in 1985, he wrote a letter to her every single month, and put the letters next to her photo on a pillow on her side of their bed. He missed her so much. One of his former players, Swen Nater, who went on to play for the Lakers, wrote the following poem for him:</p>

<p>Poem</a> Written for Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden</p>

<p>*Once I was afraid of dying,
terrified of ever-lying,
petrified of leaving family, home and friends.</p>

<p>Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
brought a melancholy tear once,
and a dreadful fear of when life ends.</p>

<p>But those days are long behind me,
fear of leaving does not bind me,
and departure does not hold a single care.</p>

<p>Peace does comfort as I ponder,
a reunion in the yonder,
with my dearest one who is waiting for me there.

<p>When UCLA named their basketball court after John Wooden 7 years ago, he insisted that his wife Nell's name also be included, and that her name should go first. </p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>If you aren't familiar with the Wooden Pyramid of Success, you can check it out here. It is a pdf, but you can also google it.</p>

<p>Good life lessons for athletes, or anyone interested.</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>As a UW Husky fan who hated the UCLA Bruins (because they won so often), as an adult I learned to greatly appreciate this man. Three words...character, character, character. A man who stood by his words and principles. Just listen to either Abdul-Jabbar or Bill Walton talk about Wooden. You'll cry with admiration. There is no coach today with Wooden's stature as a teacher and mentor. None.</p>

<p>I didn't see the other thread, but I'm from Southern California, so of course John Wooden was a huge presence to all of us. Most of my family went to UCLA, so they obviously have been following this story very closely. Even my daughter talked about him the other night (and she goes to the arch-rival). He will be missed.</p>