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Our five favorite John Wooden books

June 4, 2010 | 11:14 pm

Famed basketball coach John Wooden died Friday evening at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, the hospital announced. The 99 year-old had been hospitalized with dehydration.

Wooden's legendary run as UCLA basketball's head coach began in 1948. Under his leadership, the men's team became a national powerhouse, with an 88-game winning streak and four 30-0 seasons; they won seven consecutive NCAA titles, from 1967-1973. His teams went 149-2 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. With each landmark, Wooden and his players set new records. In his last 12 years as coach, the team took 10 NCAA titles. He retired from coaching in 1975.

It wasn't just Wooden's record that made him such a lasting influence. His coaching philosophy -- particularly his "Pyramid of Success" -- has influenced sportsmen and women of all kinds. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2003.

Perhaps the most quotable coach since Yogi Berra ("Ability is a poor man's wealth," "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 give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you."), Wooden was bound to wind up in print, both as a subject and writing for himself. Late in life, he even penned a children's book.

Here are our five favorite John Wooden books:

"The Wizard of Westwood: Coach John Wooden and His UCLA Bruins" (1973) by Dwight Chapin and Jeff Prugh. A detailed biography that exposed more of Wooden's inside game than he would have liked, written when he was at the peak of his career.

"Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization" (2005) by John Wooden and Steve Jamison. Wooden's strategies for competitive greatness made general. A Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times bestseller.

"Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better Life" (2005) by John Wooden and Jay Carty. A translation of Wooden's philosophy into a self-help handbook.

"Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and off the Court" (1997) by John Wooden. A compilation of ideas and anecdotes, published when Wooden was nearly 90.

"Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success" for children ages 4-8 (2003) by John Wooden, Steve Jamison, Peanut Louie Harper and illustrations by Susan F. Cornelison. An inchworm and a mouse collaborate on -- what else? -- building a pyramid to success.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: John Wooden signs his children's book, "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success" in 2004. Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times

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