The Globe and Mail recently had a number of articles on the passing of John Wooden. Countless coaches would borrow from the wonderful examples of great coaching he gave all on a regular basis.
Here are some selected comments from one Globe Basketball article.
“The joy and happiness in Coach Wooden’s life came from the success and accomplishments of others. He never let us forget what he learned from his two favourite teachers, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa, ”that a life not lived for others is not a life,’“ Bill Walton said in a statement released by the university.
“I thank John Wooden everyday for all his selfless gifts, his lessons, his time, his vision and especially his faith and patience. This is why our eternal love for him will never fade away. This is why we call him ‘Coach.“’
Like Wooden, who starred at Purdue, Larry Bird became an Indiana basketball legend. The Indiana Pacers president said in a statement, “John Wooden, basketball, Indiana. One doesn’t go without the others.”
Denny Crum played for Wooden from 1956-58, then served as his assistant on three NCAA title teams before leaving to coach Louisville in 1971.
“Coach never talked about winning, ever,” he said. “His theory was that you get the guys in shape, you teach ‘em the fundamentals and then you get ‘em to play together. And he did that better than anybody.
“If you asked him what he did, he’d tell you he was a teacher. That’s what he did. He was really good at that.”
Keith Erickson recalled practices in the old men’s gym were no-nonsense under Wooden.
“He’d blow that whistle and everybody would turn,” he said. “He’d say, ”Goodness gracious sakes alive,’ and everybody knew they were in trouble.“
That was Wooden’s version of an expletive. “Fourteen years together and I never heard him use a swear word once,” Cunningham said.
So many of us in the coaching and teaching professions often leaned on Coach Wooden’s words of wisdom to make us better. None of us will ever be fortunate enough to be able to reach his level of excellence in what we collectively do.