June 4, 2010


John Wooden: What I've Learned: It's that time of year again — the time that this legendary basketball coach dominated more than anyone. Look back at his wisdom on reputations, race, and winning it all. (Cal Fussman, Esquire)

They called me the India Rubber Man in high school because every time I went down on the court, I bounced right up. Now I've had my hip replaced, and my knees aren't any good. I'm old. I accept it. One of my great-granddaughters said, "Pa Pa, you drive like an old man." I said, "Well, honey, what am I?" [...]

I'll never adjust to the loss of Nellie. We were married for fifty-three years. No man ever had a finer wife. Prior to her loss, I had some fear of death. Now I have no fear. I look forward to seeing her again. [...]

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. [...]

My father gave me a two-dollar bill for my grade-school graduation and said, "Hold on to this and you'll never be broke." I still have it. A lot of times, that's all I've had. But I've never been broke.

The most I made coaching was $32,500. Maybe I didn't have a million-dollar contract like Shaquille O'Neal, but he'll never know what it was like to get a good meal for twenty-five cents.

I've been reading Steve Bisheff's biography and never realized how good a player he was.

A Paragon Rising above the Madness (Rick Reilly, March 14, 2000, Sports Illustrated)

On Tuesday the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He'll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He'll say how much he misses her and loves her and can't wait to see her again. Then he'll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He'll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again.

The stack will be 180 letters high then, because Tuesday is 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died. In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between, with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.

There's never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach.

[originally posted: 3/16/09]

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