June 4, 2010


-ARTICLE: Coach Wooden guides Special Olympians: Legendary UCLA coach holds clinic with O.C. athletes, emphasizing team work and urging them to 'make the most' of life. (ERIC CARPENTER, 12/13/08, The Orange County Register)

Wooden, who is still recovering from a fall last winter that left him with a broken wrist and collarbone, said he was battling a cold – but he wouldn't miss the clinic.

"I've always had a special place in my heart for the special athletes," said Wooden, who was named NCAA Coach of the Year six times. "It's great to watch."

Former U.S. Olympian and 1960 gold-medal decathlon winner Rafer Johnson also sat on the sidelines, excited to watch Special Olympics have the chance to interact with Wooden.

"I'm so inspired seeing that image," said Johnson, a longtime supporter of Special Olympics. "These are athletes who spend a lot of time working on team development. And I can't think of a better opportunity for them than to learn from a coach who helped athletes of all backgrounds and abilities succeed as a team."

Wooden gathered with the players on the court and had one bit of advice – the same for the Special Olympians and the UCLA players.

"You are at an age where you will be our leaders," he said. "Make the most of it, young man. Make the most of it."

Steve Bisheff's recent biography of the great man, John Wooden: An American Treasure, is marvelous.

-INTERVIEW: Q&A with author of Wooden book (MARK SAXON, 12/10/08, OCREGISTER.COM)

Q. In your opinion, is there a greater coaching legacy in any sport than the one Wooden established?

A. I don’t think there is a greater coaching legacy in any sport, but I’m probably biased in that regard. Red Auerbach would be right there.Vince Lombardi comes to mind in football, but he didn’t really do it long enough. Maybe Paul Brown. He’d be close, too.

Q. If John Wooden and Dean Smith had exactly the same five players to coach whose team would win?

A. Again, I’d favor Wooden over anybody with the same five players. But Smith, I think, wouldn’t be the toughest one to coach against. Bobby Knight, as much as I dislike his bullying attitude, might be the one who would give Wooden the biggest challenge. The late Pete Newell and Coach K would have to be right there, too.

Q. Can you summarize his tactical teachings in a few sentences or is that impossible given their complexity?

A. His biggest thing tactically was fundamentals. His players were more sound fundamentally than players on any other team. I think that was the key to why he won so many close games, especially in the NCAA Tournament (a record 38 in a row!). At the end of games, other teams’ players had to think about what they were doing. UCLA’s players didn’t. They were so well drilled, they executed without hesitation. I believe that made a huge difference.

-REVIEW: New book on UCLA's Wooden a superb read (STEVE SCHOLFIELD, November 20, 2004, North County Times)
[I]t is a book about the life and times of the 94-year-old Wooden who is more successful today than when he was an All-American basketball player at Purdue and when he coached UCLA to an unprecedented 10 NCAA titles.

This is about one man's view of the world, a man so humble, so genuine, so family-oriented that we respect him not for what he did, but for who he is.

If you get anything out of this book, it is how to be a better human being.

Bisheff, one of the best sportswriters in the country, is a columnist for the Orange County Register.

This project started in May 2003 when Cumberland House Publishing wanted a book to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Wooden's first championship. Bisheff was recommended for the job. He's covered UCLA basketball for much of his 39 years as a writer.

"I was truly honored that he OK'd the project, and I have since talked to him and he liked the book," Bisheff said.

While there have been many books on Wooden's coaching and success strategies, this is the first book done exclusively on Wooden in more than 30 years.

The John Wooden dream team: Who were Wooden's best players? (MARK SAXON, The Orange County Register)

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[originally posted: 12/13/08]

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 4, 2010 12:00 AM
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