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Category: John Wooden

L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 4: John Wooden bows out on top


We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.

No. 4: John Wooden goes out a winner (74 first-place votes, 3,417 points)

Fitting a coach of his greatness, legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden went out a winner on March 30, 1975, when UCLA defeated Kentucky, 92-85, to win the 1975 NCAA men's basketball title. It was the 10th time Wooden led the Bruins to the title.

When it was over, the crowd of 15,153 at the San Diego Sports Arena remained to give Wooden a standing ovation for about four minutes.

Wooden coached what would prove to be his final game in Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, in a 93–59 victory over Stanford. After the Bruins defeated Louisville, 75-74, in the NCAA tournament semifinals, he announced he would retire following the title game. 

During his tenure with the Bruins, Wooden won 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. His teams also had a record winning streak of 88 games and four perfect 30–0 seasons.

Wooden was named NCAA college basketball coach of the year in 1964, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973 and was named Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year in 1972. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973. Wooden died in June 2010.


No. 5: Angels win the World Series

No. 6: The 1967 USC-UCLA game

No. 7: Anthony Davis defeats Notre Dame

No. 8: Lakers finally defeat Celtics

No. 9: Fernandomania

No. 10: Magic scores 42 in Game 6 of 1980 NBA Finals

No. 11: Lakers win first title in L.A.

No. 12: Dodgers first game in L.A.

No. 13: Marcus Allen's Super Bowl run

No. 14: Lakers win 33 in a row

No. 15: Robert Horry's game-winner

No. 16: Honoring Roy Campanella

No. 17: Miracle on Manchester

No. 18: Lakers three-peat

No. 19: Rick Monday saves the flag

No. 20: Kobe to Shaq alley-oop

-- Houston Mitchell


Did Sarah Palin mistakenly attribute a quote to John Wooden?


BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said a notable impassioned quote about the importance of land to Americans.

Besides being a legendary basketball coach, the late, great John Wooden was also an inspirational writer and speaker. He wrote (or co-wrote) over half a dozen books and was an in-demand motivational speaker until his death in 2010. He was a proponent of what he called the Pyramid of Success, which consisted of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. Some of the famous maxims that Wooden coined over the years include, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" and "Flexibility is the key to stability."

In her 2009 memoir, Going Rogue, former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin spoke about a time that Coach Wooden's words helped her through a disappointing moment in her life. Palin, who was a basketball player during high school (leading her team to an Alaskan state championship in 1982), has been a sports fan her whole life and even once dreamed of being a sportscaster for ESPN (which is at least partially the reason her daughter's name is Bristol) so it comes as no surprise that she would find comfort in the words of Coach Wooden. In 2002, after his election a Governor of Alaksa, Alaskan Senator Frank Murkowski had to choose his successor in the United States Senate. He put together a list of candidates, including Palin. He interviewed her, but after the interview was over she had the impression that he was not going to be appointing her. On the drive home, she discussed her disappointment with her husband, Todd.

We were disappointed...for about seven seconds. We talked about the way the "ball bounces." We reminded each other how UCLA Coach John Wooden had captured our thoughts in a book we'd read about him. I told Todd, "Coach Wooden said, 'Things work out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.'" We said in unison, "Or something like that!"

Later on in the book, Palin continued to show her appreciation for Wooden's words by making a Wooden quote the epigram for the chapter about her decision to run for Governor of Alaska against Murkowski. The quote reads:

Our land is everything...I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it - with their lives.

It's a powerful quote. But did Wooden actually say it?

Continue reading »

John Wooden statue to be erected at renovated Pauley Pavilion

John WoodenJohn Wooden and Pauley Pavilion forever will be linked.

His UCLA basketball teams went 149-2 there. The basketball floor is named the "Nell and John Wooden Court" after the legendary coach and his wife.

His memorial service was held there in June 2010. His great-grandson, Tyler Trapani, even scored the final points at the arena before it closed for renovations after last season.

And when Pauley Pavilion reopens in 2012, Wooden certainly will be there in spirit -- and his image will be there in the form of a statue that will be situated on the new plaza on the building's north side along Bruin Walk, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced Tuesday in his weekly blog.

The statue will be sculpted by Blair Buswell, head sculptor for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

"I, along with some of my staff, was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit his studio and see his initial maquettes [concepts] for the statue when the football team played at Utah last weekend," Guerrero wrote. "The studio contains life-size replicas of some of his outstanding work, including statues of Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Mantle and Merlin Olsen ... what an amazing place"

He added: "I cannot wait until we unveil the final product."


John Wooden dies at 99

Photos: John Wooden, 1910-2010

Graphic: A bigger Pauley Pavilion coming in 2012

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: John Wooden coaches at Pauley Pavilion. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Greatest sports figures in L.A. history No. 4: John Wooden


Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 4, John Wooden.

No. 4 John Wooden (251 first-place votes, 5,922 points)

A lot of people will be surprised that Wooden didn't win this voting, but he was entirely left off quite a few ballots, leaving him in fourth place.

In 27 years as Bruin coach, his teams registered 620 wins and only 147 losses while earning far more national honors than any other university.

Under Wooden, UCLA won an unprecedented 10 NCAA men's basketball titles, including seven consecutive championships (1966-73). Included in the string is one of the most amazing winning streaks in all of sports: 88 games over four seasons, including consecutive 30-0 seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73. UCLA also won 149 of 151 games in Pauley Pavilion during his Wooden's tenure.

Wooden was the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his Bruin teams won 19 conference championships. He is the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.

In 2003, President George W. Bush presented Wooden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to a civilian.

Wooden and his wife, Nell, who died in Los Angeles on March 21, 1985, were married for 53 years. The legendary UCLA coach died on June 4, 2010.


No. 5: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

No. 6: Jerry West

No. 7: Chick Hearn

No. 8: Kobe Bryant

No. 9: Fernando Valenzuela

No. 10: Jackie Robinson

No. 11: Tommy Lasorda

No. 12: Wayne Gretzky

No. 13: Walter O'Malley

No. 14: Don Drysdale

No. 15: Merlin Olsen

No. 16: Jerry Buss

No. 17: Elgin Baylor

No. 18: Marcus Allen

No. 19: Jim Murray

No. 20: Wilt Chamberlain

Your votes are in: The 20 greatest sports figures in L.A. history

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: John Wooden in 1996. Credit: Chuck Robinson / Associated Press

John Wooden, happy birthday sir

Legendary Coach John Wooden would have turned 101 today.

In honor of the man who is considered to be one of the best coaches -- and people -- of all time, here are some of his words of wisdom, according to BrainyQuote.

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

Continue reading »

UCLA's Reeves Nelson, Joshua Smith on Wooden Award list

UCLA teammates Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith and UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson are among the 50 players on the John R. Wooden Award's preseason list, selected by by the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Monday.

North Carolina leads the way with four players on the list, followed by Ohio State and Vanderbilt with three each. California, Connecticut, Memphis and Syracuse join the Bruins as teams with two players on the list.

The Wooden Award will be presented the weekend of April 6-8.

The 50 players selected for the Wooden Award preseason list:

Continue reading »

Fox Sports Net to honor John Wooden during Pac-10 basketball telecasts

Fox Sports Net will honor legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden this weekend during its Pacific 10 Conference basketball telecasts with a series of vignettes about the man who guided the Bruins to a record 10 national titles. Wooden died in June at 99.

Replicas of Wooden's Pyramid of Success will be distributed to all fans at Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA plays host to Arizona, and at Hec-Ed Pavilion, where Washington plays host to Washington State. Coaches from all four teams have been asked to wear pyramid lapel pins to symbolize their participation in the tribute.

UCLA's game against Arizona, which starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, will be televised by Prime Ticket. Washington's game against Washington State, which starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, will be televised by Fox Sports West. The Bruins' home finale will be their final game at Pauley Pavilion before interior renovations force them to play elsewhere next season.

-- Ben Bolch

Pacific 10 Conference dedicating basketball season to John Wooden [Updated]

John Wooden pyramid Pacific 10 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott announced Thursday morning that the conference would dedicate its season to legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, who died in June at age 99.

The conference's awards for coach of the year, given to both the men's and women's top coaches, will be named in Wooden's honor.

The conference also will run a series of sportsmanship public-service announcements during its football and basketball broadcasts based on Wooden's famed pyramid of success.

[Updated, 11 a.m.: The conference will make a special in-game presentation to the Wooden family during the conference tournament at Staples Center. Wooden guided UCLA to 10 national championships and 620 victories.]

"What set him apart were his core values," Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar said.

-- Ben Bolch

Photo: Former UCLA player Keith Erickson delivers remarks at a memorial on June 26, 2010, for former UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden at Pauley Pavilion. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

John Wooden exhibit is one worth being in a hurry to see

The miniature bottle of tabasco sauce might have elicited a smile from the coach who said "it's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."

The bottle is exactly where John Wooden left it, lodged among scores of books on a shelf inside a replica of the late UCLA basketball coach's den from his Encino condominium. The den has been painstakingly recreated in a glass-enclosed exhibit that opens to the public at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame inside the J.D. Morgan Athletic Center.

Lovingly decorated by Wooden's wife, Nell, the den served as his office and social gathering spot after retiring in 1975. It includes the desk where Wooden autographed thousands of pictures, balls and books. It's also the place where he wrote his monthly love letter to his wife after her death in 1984.

Among a treasure trove of trophies and plaques are a seemingly out-of-place mug and plate adorned with colored scribbles given to Wooden by his grandchildren.

"What I love about these is they're given the same significance--or maybe more--than some of the amazing awards he won," said Emily Greer, the exhibit's curator and a graphic artist for the UCLA athletic department.

Greer used photos and a floor plan to meticulously recreate the living space, even going so far as to place every book in the exact position it occupied inside Wooden's home.

"It was basically like a puzzle to put it back together," Greer said.

Only the carpet and the bookshelf--an exact replica--are new. His television is set on a loop playing his favorite Western movies, UCLA basketball highlights and a tribute from Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, among other shows. Above the television are pictures of Wooden's 10 UCLA championship teams arranged in a pyramid, a tribute to the coach's famed pyramid of success.

The den was the vision of Ken Weiner, UCLA senior associate director of business operations, who along with Kevin Borg, director of facilities, had toured various athletic halls of fame around the country and were impressed by a recreation of Bear Bryant's living room in Alabama. Senior associate director Bobby Field, who was close to Wooden's family, brought them on board with the concept of the den honoring Wooden, who died in June at 99.

There are some surprises, including a pool stick propped up against a wall and an iPod attached to a boom box. Wooden had no idea how to use it, so his grandchildren programmed it for him.

Wooden's family visited the room on what would have been his 100th birthday earlier this month. "They were pointing at things and saying, 'I gave him that,' " Greer recalled.

Though she met the coach only once before he died, Greer feels a special connection.

"I feel like I know a lot about him through making this room," she said.

--Ben Bolch

John Wooden memorial service will be televised by Prime Ticket

UCLA announced Thursday that a public memorial service to honor Coach John Wooden will be held at Pauley Pavilion on June 26.

The service will be televised by Prime Ticket and will be streamed live at The service, expected to last 90 minutes, will begin at 11 a.m. and doors to Pauley will open at 9 a.m. The service will also be shown live on two video boards at Drake Stadium in case Pauley Pavilion gets filled. 

-- Diane Pucin

UCLA plans to honor John Wooden at graduation ceremony

Wooden_200 A week after John Wooden died at age 99, UCLA's class of 2010 will remember the legendary Bruins basketball coach with a special tribute at Friday's graduation ceremony.

Student-athletes and other scholars representing the class will carry 99 blue-and-gold flags into the College of Letters and Science ceremony, and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block will speak about Wooden's legacy, the university said Tuesday.

About 4,500 students are expected to participate in the ceremony at Drake Stadium.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: John Wooden in 2009. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images


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