Summitt on Wooden: We have lost a true American icon

In this photo taken June 6, 2002, former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden spoke to a full house at Johnson Fine Arts Center on the campus of Northern State University, in Aberdeen, S.D. Wooden came to Aberdeen as a guest of then NSU basketball coach Don Meyer. Reports list Wooden in grave condition.

AP Photo / Aberdeen American News, John Davis

In this photo taken June 6, 2002, former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden spoke to a full house at Johnson Fine Arts Center on the campus of Northern State University, in Aberdeen, S.D. Wooden came to Aberdeen as a guest of then NSU basketball coach Don Meyer. Reports list Wooden in grave condition.

Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt on the death of John Wooden, who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever.

“I am very saddened at the passing of John Wooden. In my lifetime, I was fortunate to call him a friend. As a coach, I always admired his gentle demand for nothing but excellence and his student-athletes delivered. He created role models on and off the court, and because of him, it is something I instilled in my players from my first day as a very young coach.

“The takeaways we all have been blessed with from knowing John Wooden are numerous. For all of his successes, he was such a humble man.

“Tonight, we have lost a true American icon.”

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Comments » 9

Bodecker writes:

"...John Wooden, who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever."

With some help from Sam Gilbert.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Bodecker:

"...John Wooden, who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever."

With some help from Sam Gilbert.

According to numerous reports, Gilbert did indeed acquire some of the greatest players of that era for UCLA, but no proof has ever surfaced that Wooden was involved in that. What all fans should remember is Wooden's philosophy of the game and life and the way he imposed it on all his teams and players.

In short, he was the one who best articulated the idea that a team or player can control only their own efforts in a game or practice. Wooden's UCLA teams were famous for rarely if ever scouting opponents or preparing specific game plans for opponents. Wooden's philosophy was that if HIS team did what they were supposed to do in every situation, it didn't matter what the opponents did. If the team did that, they would be WORTHY of victory even if they didn't get the desired outcome. This is the antithesis of the "win at any cost" attitude that prevails today, but his record shows that this thought process not only created a consistently high level of performance, it also produced a level of success that will likely never be matched.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

The greatest basketball coach ever commenting on the greatest mens coach ever. Wooden was before my time so I never got to see his teams on TV but looking at UCLAs records in the 60's I can see why his passing is a big deal.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

The greatest basketball coach ever commenting on the greatest mens coach ever. Wooden was before my time so I never got to see his teams on TV but looking at UCLAs records in the 60's I can see why his passing is a big deal.

I was a high school player when the great UCLA streak began. I never had seen teams play with such precision and energy and have rarely seen such since. Wooden's players never "hot-dogged" in any way and Wooden himself never badgered officials or even left the bench. He was a perfect gentleman at all times. There will likely never be another like him.

Ringside writes:

ESPN had a nice comment stating that he lost his wife in 1985 and now he wanted to see her.
Coach Wooden had a remarkable life. Basketball or not, he will be remembered for who he was and how he lived. RIP Coach.

MidTennVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I was a high school player when the great UCLA streak began. I never had seen teams play with such precision and energy and have rarely seen such since. Wooden's players never "hot-dogged" in any way and Wooden himself never badgered officials or even left the bench. He was a perfect gentleman at all times. There will likely never be another like him.

I second all of that. Those UCLA teams of his were in a league of their own, head and shoulders above all the rest. They made the NCAA tournament in those days clinics for the teams they played.

Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton, etc. were just temporary superstars among many others.

Coach Wooden was nothing but class. RIP, Coach.

hueypilot writes:

A life well lived, Coach.

Two stories about Coach Wooden come to mind;

Bill Walton took his son to Coach Wooden when he was very young, so that CW could instruct him in the proper way to don shoes and socks. It was the first thing, Walton recalled, that Coach Wooden imparted each year at the beginning of practice. Talk about attention to detail and fundamentals.

Secondly I heard Keith, (aka Silky, aka Jamal) Wilkes say that in the four years he played for Coach W, he doesn't ever recall him speaking the words win or winning. Just execute as you have been taught and things would work out in the best way possible.

BTW, while Gilbert or whomever was buying players in LA, I'm pretty sure everybody else, especially Kentucky under Rupp, was doing everything by the book.

TNvalleyVOL writes:

Yes, Pat now takes her rightful place as best basketball coach walking the earth.

YankeeVol writes:

in response to Agent_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I see your point, but isn't that kinda morbid?

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