On Friday night, arguably one of the most, if not the most, successful coaches in the history of college athletics, John Wooden, passed away at the age of 99. From Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
John Wooden, college basketball's gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99.
The university said Wooden died Friday night of natural causes at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized since May 26.
Jim Wooden and Nancy Muehlhausen issued a statement shortly after their father died, saying, "He has been, and always will be, the guiding light for our family.
"The love, guidance and support he has given us will never be forgotten. Our peace of mind at this time is knowing that he has gone to be with our mother, whom he has continued to love and cherish."
They thanked well-wishers for their thoughts and prayers and asked for privacy.
With his signature rolled-up game program in hand, Wooden led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, including an unmatched streak of seven in a row from 1967 to 1973.
Even as a USC fan, there's no questioning Wooden's success. Alleged relationship with Stan Gilbert aside, Wooden had a run of success in Westwood that will remain unparalleled in the college basketball world. Florida winning back-to-back titles under Billy Donovan this decade was a rarity. Try winning seven in a row.
But Wooden's legacy is much more than just winning. From the pyramid of success, to the innumerable quotes and life lessons, and to the strong character he exhibited on and off the court, Wooden embodied everything that a college sports coach and teacher should be. "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment," Wooden said.
However, before I start gushing too much about a UCLA basketball coach, I'll leave you with some parting thoughts from William Nack of ESPN.com:
When Wooden graduated from grade school, his father, Joshua, gave him seven rules to live by. Among them: "Make each day your masterpiece."
John Wooden did that for many years, crafting one small masterpiece after another. In fact, he came to express so rare a genius as a coach and teacher that he stood quite alone above his peers. Upon his retirement, he left a raft of unbreakable records, those two niches in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the memories of teams that played basketball as it was meant to be played: with a formless beauty as close to improvised dance as one will ever see on a court.
In the end, he left a pillow covered with monthly love letters written to his late wife, who died in 1985, and walls covered with framed copies of his famous "Pyramid of Success" as well as various favored sayings. One said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." Another, uttered in a huddle in the midst of a desperate game, was, "Be quick, but don't hurry."
Here's a final one to remember him by:
"Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be grateful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."
Rest in peace Coach Wooden. Thanks for the memories!