Old Wives' Tales
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Glurge: Biography of John Wooden, legendary basketball coach.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]
Origins: So often the stories we classify as glurge have precious little factual basis to them, existing primarily as parables meant to inspire rather than inform. Yet that is not the case here — this item paints an accurate portrait of John Wooden, the renowned basketball coach.
We can't fathom why the article quoted above suddenly became a hot
John Wooden's accomplishments as a basketball coach are almost impossible to summarize because they are so many. The briefest of thumbnail sketches (offered on the understanding that we couldn't begin to do justice to his record without running on for paragraph after paragraph) would note that during his overall career as a head coach he achieved an unequaled
Yet his accomplishments as a basketball coach are only part of his story. His character — the man he is — almost dwarfs them by
His life story and philosophy of living have been recounted in numerous books: My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey, They Call Me Coach, Coach Wooden One-On-One, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success, Be Quick — But Don't Hurry: Learning Success From the Teachings of a Lifetime, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations & Reflections On and Off the Court, John Wooden Pyramid of Success. This man, who came to be called the Wizard of Westwood in deference to his achievements as UCLA's basketball coach, was born in 1910; during World
Though John Wooden's career as a coach ended in 1975, his teachings live on. Although it's possible the claim of his knowing the whereabouts of 172 of the
Many of his sayings have stuck with his players, including his 'pyramid of success': "Success is the peace of mind which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you have made the effort to become the best person that you are capable of becoming."
As for the anecdote about how the Wizard of Westwood handled a rebellious player insistent upon breaking tonsorial rules, not only has the player in question (Bill Walton) been quoted in news articles as telling the story, but so has John Wooden. However, the tale has been around so long that Wooden tells two versions of it, one involving long hair, the other a beard:
I've always enjoyed Bill Walton. He's his own man. You've probably heard this story but one time he told me he wasn't going to get a haircut. He told me I didn't have the right to make him get a haircut. I said, "No, I don't, Bill. I just have the right to determine who is going to playThe coach's monthly letters to his deceased wife Nellie are also a matter of record; they are mentioned in any number of articles about the man, often by reporters who have themselves seen them. On the
One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. "It's my right," he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. "That's good, Bill," Coach said. "I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We're going to miss you." Walton shaved it right then and there. Now Walton calls once a week to tell Coach he loves him.
Nothing has changed in the house they shared together since she's been gone. "Every picture on the walls are the ones Nellie chose, the ones she wanted up," said John Wooden. "I've changed nothing, except add pictures of the great-grandchildren she never had a chance to see."
Coach Wooden embraced the unchanging in other areas of his life besides decor. He had three main rules for his players: Be on time, do not use profanity at any time, and never criticize a teammate. The following description of him comes from a 1997 Deseret News article:
A great coach, he is a better man, and that has always been his broad appeal. Grace, wit, wisdom, perspective, humility, love, competence, devotion and spirituality have rarely been packaged so well in one tiny man. One of his players was recently asked to choose one word to describe Wooden. He chose "Saint."Fittingly, the recognition bestowed on the nation's best college basketball player is named the
Wooden's message has not changed. The old Indiana school teacher is still teaching personal values, discipline, hard work and self-improvement. He's still teaching his famous Pyramid of Success, which encompasses all of the above and more.
On 4 June 2010, John Wooden passed away. He was 99.
Barbara "wizardry" Mikkelson
Last updated: 5 June 2010
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