Friday, June 04, 2010

A Legend Passes

When I was in fifth grade, I took a trip with a couple friends to a cabin in Lake Arrowhead. We went up to play in the snow. At some point on that trip, as the college basketball season was getting underway, I heard a radio personality say that if the Bruins were to win the NCAA championship that year, it would be their 11th in 20 years. Now, at that time I was more interested in the math, though I knew I was a UCLA fan. But it wasn't until later in life that I learned the 10 championships of which the radio personality spoke were thanks to John Wooden.

In the '90s, rooting for UCLA, leading up to their championship in 1995, I learned more about the greatness of John Wooden. And from everything I learned, he received more credit as a great person than he did as a great basketball coach. I have memories of Kareem Abdul Jabar and Bill Walton going on Roy Firestone's show with Coach Wooden and lauding the man, even moreso than they lauded the coach.

In 2005, I spent a season watching the greatest college basketball team I've ever seen, the 2004-2005 Illinois Fighting Illini. One of their signature wins came in the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis against highly regarded Gonzaga. After the game, Coach Wooden raved about the unselfishness of Deron Williams and Dee Brown and the rest of the Illini. They thrashed Gonzaga that night, and they did it with a style that Coach Wooden loved. Their trademark was passing and shooting, and it was all on display that afternoon. In one game that season, they made 14 passes in a possession against Northwestern before hitting a three pointer. That was the type of team Coach Wooden loved. Fundamentally sound, great shooters, great passers, great defenders. They didn't wear the blue and gold, but they were a Wooden team.

A couple years ago, I got tickets to see Coach Wooden and Vin Scully give a Q&A with TJ Simers in Los Angeles. I attended the event with my parents. Until the day I die, it will be one of my most treasured memories. I got the chance to see two of Los Angeles' greatest legends hold court, and I got to do so next to my dad, my greatest role model. I've been in Illinois for about a third of my life, but I'll always be an Angeleno, and to see those two mesmerize the crowd, and to do so with my parents, is something I'll never forget.

John Wooden is more than just a great basketball coach. He was a great individual. His contributions to the game are dwarfed by his contributions to the human race. We are all better for having experienced his greatness.

RIP, Coach.

4 comments:

oakleyses said...

nike outlet, kate spade outlet, gucci handbags, polo outlet, longchamp outlet, jordan shoes, louis vuitton outlet, burberry pas cher, uggs on sale, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, prada handbags, nike free run, tory burch outlet, longchamp outlet, nike air max, cheap oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, oakley sunglasses, michael kors pas cher, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches, replica watches, ugg boots, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet online, sac longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton, christian louboutin outlet, louis vuitton outlet, air max, longchamp outlet, jordan pas cher, tiffany and co, christian louboutin uk, oakley sunglasses wholesale, longchamp pas cher, nike roshe, louboutin pas cher, prada outlet, ugg boots, tiffany jewelry, chanel handbags, christian louboutin shoes, christian louboutin

oakleyses said...

uggs outlet, sac hermes, mulberry uk, ralph lauren uk, coach outlet, replica handbags, michael kors outlet online, nike blazer pas cher, nike air max uk, sac vanessa bruno, nike air force, hollister uk, nike air max, converse pas cher, kate spade, burberry outlet, north face uk, michael kors outlet online, true religion outlet, nike air max uk, polo lacoste, michael kors, nike free uk, ray ban pas cher, michael kors, michael kors outlet, lululemon canada, abercrombie and fitch uk, coach outlet store online, timberland pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, nike roshe run uk, coach purses, hollister pas cher, vans pas cher, burberry handbags, new balance, michael kors outlet, hogan outlet, north face, michael kors outlet online, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, uggs outlet, oakley pas cher, nike tn, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online

oakleyses said...

mcm handbags, hermes belt, instyler, chi flat iron, mont blanc pens, jimmy choo outlet, lancel, ghd hair, nike roshe run, nike air max, converse, new balance shoes, north face outlet, longchamp uk, north face outlet, timberland boots, nfl jerseys, nike trainers uk, reebok outlet, hollister, p90x workout, converse outlet, soccer jerseys, nike huaraches, ray ban, herve leger, lululemon, oakley, nike air max, louboutin, bottega veneta, vans outlet, hollister clothing, abercrombie and fitch, ferragamo shoes, vans, hollister, asics running shoes, wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, valentino shoes, babyliss, insanity workout, soccer shoes, beats by dre, ralph lauren, gucci, iphone cases, celine handbags, baseball bats

oakleyses said...

louis vuitton, moncler outlet, thomas sabo, ugg, louis vuitton, coach outlet, links of london, canada goose jackets, canada goose, moncler, juicy couture outlet, canada goose uk, marc jacobs, toms shoes, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, moncler, moncler uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose outlet, karen millen uk, moncler, ugg uk, pandora charms, canada goose, moncler outlet, swarovski, montre pas cher, pandora uk, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, wedding dresses, louis vuitton, ugg pas cher, pandora jewelry, moncler, replica watches, hollister, canada goose outlet, canada goose, supra shoes, louis vuitton, swarovski crystal, canada goose outlet, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, doudoune moncler