Dedicated to the HATRED of all things trOJan


Heaven’s Basketball Team may never lose again.

When you walk in golden halls, you get to keep the gold that falls.

For Whom the Nell Tolls:  In order to re-unite with his one true love, John Wooden accepts God’s offer to be Head Coach of Heaven (and St. Peter just learned how to put his socks on correctly)

John Wooden:  The Greatest Teacher Who Ever Lived… and there is no Substitute.

At 6:45 pm on Friday night, the World lost one of God’s Gifts to Humanity, when unparalleled Coaching Legend and exemplary Human Being John Robert Wooden crossed over to the Great Tournament in the Sky.  Coach Wooden was always the master of his domain, and even in death, he was completely in control.  Despite his physical frailty at 99, he was totally lucid on Friday, and he knew exactly what was going on.

Long since having gotten over any fear of death, Wooden — ON HIS DEATHBED — actually requested A SHAVE,  because he wanted to look good for his Nellie.  That’s the kind of Peace of Mind that comes with being a flawless role model for your entire life.  Bill Sharman visited recently, and said that John said his goodbyes to him, because he was so AWARE of the situation, and not phased by it.  Jamaal Wilkes visited too, and while doting over the bed, Wooden commanded him to go sit down!  I wouldn’t be surprised if Wooden was holding a rolled up program (or hospital menu?) at the time.

Wooden is Nationally respected because of his teams’ success on the hardwood, but he is beloved for everything that he has done off the court.  For decades he has been an Ambassador for UCLA, behaving with undeniable dignity and class, even while the concept of integrity disintegrated in the World around him.  He even took his name off things that weren’t up to his scholastic specs.  Wooden’s Spirit, Love for the Bruins, and overwhelming humility never wavered.  He was generous beyond belief, and cared about his Players as people, not just athletes.  Wooden never talked about winning — only about doing your best.  All he wanted to do was prepare his kids for Life… and if he happened to win 10 Championships in 12 years including 7 straight, 88 straight games, 38 straight Tournament games, and 98 straight Home games, so be it.

No one could beat Coach.  Not even a disease.  Naturally, Wooden’s cause of death was Natural Causes, or what I like to call, “Really missing your Wife, who you haven’t seen in 25 years.”  Wooden went when he wanted to go.

No one could stop Wooden as a Player either.  Wooden was a three-time All-American at Purdue, and made the Hall of Fame as a Player a long time before becoming the FIRST EVER to be inducted as a Player AND as a Coach.  And before he came to UCLA in 1948, he WANTED to go to Minnesota instead, but a snowstorm caused a delay in the Minnesota offer, so Wooden accepted the Bruin bid.  Minnesota called right after he did, but Wooden refused to go back on his commitment to UCLA.  And the rest is History.  It did take him 17 years to win his first Championship, but he never had a LOSING season in his three decades.

I got a condolence call tonight, pointing out that Wooden passed away on 6-4-10, as in ’64 (1st Title) and 10 (Banners).  Wooden was also born in 10/10, so 10 seems to be the key for a Perfect 10 of a Leader.  And yes, being a good leader sometimes includes teaching people exactly how socks should go on.  You HAVE to be a master of details when you have FOUR PERFECT 30-0 Seasons.  Goodness Gracious, Sakes Alive.  The caller also recommended celebrating this event by purchasing some of the many books that Wooden wrote, with much wit and intelligence, not to mention the Yoda-like wisdom.  Or you can always pick up an inspirational and iconic Pyramid of Success, Wooden’s Chart for Living Life that continues to hang in offices across the country — including offices of other Coaches — carrying on the legacy that will never fade.   The caller wanted to add one last thing (it was a LONG call):  Wooden not only built the Bruin BASKETBALL team into an elite Powerhouse, but he also was instrumental in turning UCLA as a whole into a World Class Athletic juggernaut.

And speaking of Athletic juggernauts, Jerry West lamented tearfully that he wanted Wooden to make it to his 100th Birthday, which would have been another milestone in an incredible life.  Unfortunately, he missed it by THAT much, sadly getting 86-ed at 99.  But he never lost Control.  And for a guy who never cussed in 99 years, even when Bill Walton got arrested, self-CONTROL is crucial.

John Wooden is (and will always be) the one public figure for whom I hold nothing but respect.  Wooden represents the MATURITY that I may aspire to, but will never attain.  If there were more John Woodens in this Country, there would be less crime, less whining, and less war, and the wars that still occurred, we’d win going away.

There will never be another one like him.  Good thing, because they don’t make ears like this any more.

"HEAVEN AND NELL" was published on June 5th, 2010 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Sports Photos.

Comments on "HEAVEN AND NELL": 9 Comments

  1. Denise Carrejo wrote,

    Rest In Peace John Wooden. Job Well Done!

  2. SVCATOSCMO wrote,

    Major college coaches who have paid tribute to Coach Wooden include Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, former Arizona coach Lute Olson, Florida coach Billy Donovan, Purdue coach Matt Painter, former UCLA and current St. John’s coach Steve Lavin, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

    One who has not appeared to comment is the all time college basketball coaching leader in wins, who works for ESPN, and who never in the past has seemed to shy away from running his mouth. That’s OK, a player-beating, chair-throwing ego-maniac whose jealousy is unmistakable hasn’t earned the privilege to do so, and couldn’t possibly relate to a man of such grace and dignity.

  3. SVCATOSCMO wrote,

    Also, let’s see your ears when you’re 99!!!!!!!!!!

  4. yswenson wrote,

    Coach Wooden is a masterpiece – and will always be. RIP, my dear and wonderful teacher. Say hello to Nell for us! We will miss you! Your spirit will live in each of us forever! LOVE YOU!

  5. JP wrote,

    We all knew this day would come, but it still hurts to actually have him gone. I’ve been watching all the news stories about Coach on TV and he truly was a national treasure. They just don’t make coaches like him anymore. He was the anti-Pete Carroll.

  6. Robert wrote,

    May the Wizard of Westwood Rest In Peace. We love you coach.

  7. ND Fan wrote,

    Condolences on the passing of a titan. It isn’t often that the leadership and motivational ability of a sports coach transcends all athletics and becomes part of our culture. Not since Knute Rockne has a college coach had such an impact on his sport and all who play it. What an icon. I wish more coaches these days would be so worthy of our respect.

  8. phil wrote,

    Thank you coach for everything you did and and keep doing:

    NCAA hands USC two-year bowl game ban, major scholarship reduction in football
    The penalties come after a four-year investigation into allegations surrounding Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and former basketball star O.J. Mayo. The Trojans will lose more than 20 scholarships in football.

    Enough said.

  9. Ken S. wrote,

    Having lived in both Los Angeles and Indiana, all I can say is Coach Wooden was a legend in both places, but to be honest, more so here. I only live 15 miles from his hometown of Martinsville. There’s a street named after him and the high school gym, plus much more. The town sign says “Home of John Wooden.” That says it all.

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