John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach and English teacher, often regarded as the best coach of all time in the US, died in June 2010 aged 99. Over 27 years, he won 620 games, including 88 straight during one historic stretch. Wooden would coach 27 years at UCLA, finishing with a record of 620-147. He won 47 NCAA tournament games. His overall mark as a college coach was 885-203, an 0.813 winning percentage that remains unequaled. After he enjoyed great success at UCLA, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly offered Wooden their head coaching job at a salary 10 times what he was making, but he refused. He was very clear about what he believed in.
“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.”
His attitude to coaching followed a credo learned from his father as a young man growing up during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Success, his father told him, is as much about what you aren’t as what you are. You should never try to be better than anyone else- just be the best you can be.
John Wooden’s definition of success:
“Piece of mind attained only through the self-satisfaction of knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you were capable.”
He had what might now be regarded as a rather “old fashioned” if not simple attitude to team discipline and coaching based on three principles:
1. Never be late; 2. Be neat and clean; 3. No profanity; 4. Never criticise a team-mate.
John Wooden preached faith and patience. He talked of belief rather than hope. “Do the things that are necessary.” He expected his players to give all, and crucially he believed that you can win when you have been outscored and that you can be outscore an opponent and yet not be a winner. He was a man of great humility and wisdom, calm and dignified.
Rest in Peace