John Wooden Dies at 99

RIP John Wooden. The greatest coach in the history of college basketball, and arguably any sport at any level, has died at the age of 99.

From the Associated Press:

He was a coach when coaching meant something else, long before the job became a pathway to riches and fame.

A coach when student athletes were really students, and the thought of making millions of dollars rolling out basketballs in the gym seemed preposterous.

A coach when it meant more to mold the lives of young men than to proclaim his own greatness.

A coach who offered a new life lesson to his charges almost every day.

“Learn as if you were going to live forever,” he would tell his players. “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

John Wooden didn’t live forever. His tomorrow finally came Friday, when he quietly passed away just months before his 100th birthday.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, whose teams won seven consecutive NCAA championships and had a record winning streak of 88 games, died Friday. He was 99.

Known as the “Wizard of Westwood,” Wooden coached for 27 years at UCLA before retiring after winning his 10th NCAA title in 1975. His Bruin teams had a record 620 wins and 147 losses.

From the New York Times:

Even in retirement he remained a beloved figure and a constant presence at U.C.L.A., watching most games from a seat behind the home bench at Pauley Pavilion. Lines of well-wishers and autograph-seekers often snaked their way to his seat in Section 103B. Wooden always obliged his fans, until the university and his family requested that he be granted privacy in January 2008, when he was 97.

A dynasty like Wooden’s would be almost impossible now, because the best college players seldom spend more than a year or two in school before turning professional. No N.C.A.A. men’s basketball coach has won more than four championships since Wooden retired. Of Wooden’s eight coaching successors at U.C.L.A., only one — Jim Harrick in 1995 — won an N.C.A.A. championship with the Bruins, who have managed to retain an air of the elite among basketball programs largely on Wooden’s legacy.

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One Comment on “John Wooden Dies at 99”

  1. Honeydog Says:

    I don’t know of this man, but just the fact that he lived 99 years is a monumental feat in itself, and more than worthy of a sincere “Rest in Peace”.

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