Wooden’s Memorial: A Tribute to the Character He Taught

The memories of John Wooden will once again be center court at Pauley Pavilion

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Halstead Property

Relatives, friends, former players, UCLA students and staff gathered together Saturday for a public memorial to honor the memory of basketball coaching legend John Wooden.

The 90-minute service began at 11 a.m. at Pauley Pavilion was broadcast on Prime Ticket and streamed live on the internet.

About 6,000 seats inside Pauley were filled by the public based on a first-come, first-serve basis. The doors to Pauley Pavilion opened at 9 a.m., but people had been lining up on the Intramural Field as early as 5 a.m.

The general admission seats were in the stands, while the basketball floor was reserved for family, Bruin basketball players and coaches and designated guests.

John Wooden, 99, died June 4. He was UCLA's coach from 1948 through 1975, and guided the Bruins to 10 championships over 12 seasons, including a record seven straight.

Along with his coaching record, which included winning 88 consecutive games from 1971 to 1974 and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games from 1964 to 1974, both records, Wooden was known for the values he espoused, his integrity, which figured into his becoming UCLA's coach, and his "Pyramid of Success."

Wooden had three rules for his players -- don't use profanity, be on time and never criticize a teammate.

In 1948, Wooden was offered coaching positions by both UCLA and Minnesota. He was prepared to accept the offer from Minnesota, but a complication briefly delayed the deal. When Minnesota did not call by a stipulated deadline, Wooden accepted UCLA's offer.

A Minnesota official called minutes after the deadline, explaining that a snowstorm had caused him to be late calling because he could not get to a telephone and that the school still wanted to hire him. However, Wooden refused to break the promise he had made to UCLA minutes earlier.

Wooden began developing the "Pyramid of Success" in the 1930s. He called it "the only truly original thing I have ever done."

At the base of the five-level pyramid are industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm. The next levels up are self-control, alertness, initiative and intentness; condition, skill and team spirit; and poise and confidence.

At the pinnacle is competitive greatness, which he defined as performing at one's best ability when one's best is required, which, he said, was "each day."

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self- satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable," Wooden once said in explaining the pyramid.

Wooden also promoted his "12 Lessons in Leadership," including Lesson 11 -- "Don't look at the scoreboard."

Wooden would begin each season with a coaching session on dressing properly that included showing his players how to put on their shoes and socks the right way.

"This is a game played on your feet," said Wooden. "If you get blisters, you can't play the game."

Wooden was born Oct. 14, 1910, in Hall, Ind., moving with his family to a small farm in Centerton, Ind, in 1918 and then to Martinsville, Ind., when he was 14. He helped lead Martinsville High School to Indiana's state championship finals three consecutive years and the state championship in 1927.

Wooden was a three-time All-American and helped lead the Boilermakers to two Big Ten championships and the 1932 national championship.

Wooden began his coaching career in 1932 at Dayton (Ky.) High School, spending two years there, coaching a variety of sports. He spent the next nine years at South Bend (Ind.) Central High School, coaching basketball, baseball and tennis and teaching English.

Wooden served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. He resumed his coaching career at Indiana State Teachers College, now Indiana State University, coaching basketball and baseball and serving as athletic director for two years.

Wooden's long list of honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, being named by ESPN as the greatest coach of the 20th century and having a post office and high school named for him in Reseda.

He was the first person selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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