Saturday, June 5, 2010

RIP John Wooden

Highlights from the CNN obituary:

Wooden died Friday of natural causes at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was 99. His 100th birthday would have been October 14.

"This loss will be felt by individuals from all parts of society. He was not only the greatest coach in the history of any sport but he was an exceptional individual that transcended the sporting world. His enduring legacy as a role model is one we should all strive to emulate."

After marrying his high school sweetheart and life-long love Nell following his graduation, Wooden coached at the high school level and at Indiana State before being hired by UCLA in 1948. His coaching methods, like his upbringing, seemed like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting: Simple, yet elegant.

"If there's anything you could point out where I was a little different, it was the fact that I never mentioned winning," he once said.

Wooden was more proud of his players accomplishments off the court.

"I think that's the factor from which I have received the greatest satisfaction and pleasure. The fact that practically all of my players did get their degrees and practically all of them have done well in whatever their chosen profession might be," he said.

But Wooden's legacy extended beyond his basketball expertise -- he coached leadership. He frequently recited what he termed his father's "two sets of three" -- "never lie, never cheat, never steal" and "don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses." And his well-known "Pyramid of Success," begun in the 1930s, has been the system behind the success of many.

Wooden himself called the pyramid "the only truly original thing I have ever done." The base of his five-level pyramid is made up of industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm. The next levels up are self-control, alertness, initiative and intentness, then condition, skill and team spirit followed by and poise and confidence. At the pinnacle is competitive greatness, which he defined as performing at top ability when that is required -- "each day."
Dad U

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