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To put into perspective John Wooden's achievement of winning ten NCAA titles there are only two coaches that rank 2nd to Wooden with each having won four titles - (Associated Students of the University of California at Los Angeles photo)

 

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - JOHN WOODEN - THE NCAA TOURNAMENT'S LEGEND

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

To put into perspective John Wooden's achievement of winning ten NCAA titles there are only two coaches that rank 2nd to Wooden with each having won four titles. They are former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and Mike Duke's Krzyzewski. Coaching ten NCAA title winning teams seems unattainable and a record that will never be broken

 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

JOHN WOODEN - THE PINNACLE OF COACHING

It's the NCAA Tournament finals time this coming weekend. What it takes for a team to make it to the final game makes the accomplishment of former UCLA coach John Wooden most memorable. If a college coach can win ONE championship that is considered a major achievement. Wooden is the all time leader having won 10 NCAA titles including seven in a row. It's safe to say this is a record that will never be broken.

No other team has won more than four in a row in Division 1 college men's or women's basketball. Within this period, his teams won an NCAA men's basketball record 88 consecutive games. Wooden won the prestigious Henry Iba Award as national coach of the year a record seven times and won the AP award five times.

With the current world climate being an I, me, my world Wooden stands out having carried himself as a teacher and not what he truly was, that being a super star coach. Wooden exemplified the highest of character carrying himself with dignity and class.

In 1948 Wooden signed a three-year contract for $6,000 in the first year. It took 16 seasons before he won his first NCAA title.

As he admitted in my interview with him at his home in 1991, that he made a lot of mistakes before he won his first title in 1964. That team went undefeated during the regular season with a 30-0 record. He admitted that it was a team of over achievers led by future NBA stars Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard.

It was an undersized squad with no player in the starting lineup taller then 6'5". The scrapped and scraped to victories utilizing their speed and a full court press. Hazzard was named the first title winning team he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

That UCLA team was without a court to practice on. They had to wedge their practice time in around the volleyball team's practice schedule or find another site. When Wooden related that experience I could see that it was an unpleasant experience but the positive result was he figured a way out of the problem and overcame the shortcoming to go on to win their first NCAA title.

Most memorable about that meeting is when Wooden pointed out that of all of the UCLA teams he coached Keith Erickson was the best athlete. He noted that Erickson could play any sport and be successful at it.

When I mentioned Wooden's statement to Erickson he seemed surprised. Erickson went into recall about his former coach and mentioned what a stickler Wooden was about players tying the athletic she laces tight and properly.

Without my asking, on his own volition, Hazzard also recalled how Wooden made an issue of tying their athletic shoe laces properly and chuckled at the thought of it.

My impression from talking to Hazzard and Erickson was Wooden wasn't a warm and fuzzy coach but a disciplinarian. By their comments I also got the feeling that they listened and learned and had the highest respect for their former coach.

Wooden also noted that the best basketball player that he coached was Sydney Wicks. Wicks went on to play in the NBA but did not have a spectacular career.

When you consider the number of players that had superb NBA careers his statement about Wicks was surprising. Players such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul Jabbar went on the have spectacular NBA careers and were members of NBA title inning teams. Both players are in the Hall of Fame.

There are many other players that Wooden coached that achieved NBA success. All benefited from the discipline that Wooden instilled in them.

The success of winning the title gave the basketball program some clout. At Wooden's urging, a much larger on-campus facility, Pauley Pavilion, was built in time for the 1965-66 season. The building was christened on November 27, 1965, in a special game that pitted the UCLA varsity against the UCLA freshmen. It was Lew Alcindor's (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) freshman season (freshmen were ineligible to play on the varsity in those days). UCLA was the defending national champion and ranked number 1 in the pre-season poll. The freshmen easily won the game by a score of 75-60. It was a powerful indication of things to come.

The seven consecutive NCAA tournament title winning streak was from 1967 through 1973. Wooden's final and 10th title was with the 1975 squad that featured Marques Johnson and Dave Meyers. They had a 28-3 regular season record.

That team was far from being the most talented he coached but it turned out to be one of Wooden's favorites, for it sent him into retirement with a 92-85 victory over Kentucky.

To put into perspective Wooden's achievement of winning ten NCAA titles there are only two coaches that rank 2nd to Wooden with each having won four titles. They are former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and Mike Duke's Krzyzewski. Coaching ten NCAA title winning teams seems unattainable and a record that will never be broken.

Now that we're in a time when players envision themselves as being king's or super it is John Wooden who truly is and he did it in an unassuming way... by simply being a teacher.


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NBA's 50 GREATEST PLAYERS of ALL TIME LIST

On October 29, 1996 In conjunction with the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the list of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History was announced. It included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Earvin Johnson, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit, Scottie Pippen, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy

 


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