Today of course belongs to our Coach. He is still recovering from the broken the wrist and collarbone from a fall last winter and he has been a little under the weather (listen to him in this video posted here). Yet he is going to make it to the game today and he made sure to show up for all the festivities around today's game yesterday. From Jill Painter in the Daily News:
John Wooden participated in Wooden Classic events Friday, even though he had a raspy voice and was feeling a little under the weather.
He said he had a sore throat, but was his usual charming self and wore his customary shirt, sweater vest and bolo tie.
"I thought (Thursday) that I wasn't going to be able to make it," Wooden said. "I had no voice."
Wooden is expected to attend his first UCLA game of the season today when the Bruins play DePaul in the second game of the Classic at the Honda Center.
Wooden, 98, has used a wheelchair full-time since a fall in February, and traveling is more difficult, but he always loves talking at this event because it supports charities such as the Special Olympics.
During the popular annual question-and-answer session with the Special Olympians, a player gave him a belated birthday card and told him he was always thinking of him.
He told Wooden: "Keep doing what you're doing."
Wooden responded: "I hope the next 98 years are just as good."
More from the OC Register:
"I've always had a special place in my heart for the special athletes," said Wooden, who was named NCAA Coach of the Year six times. "It's great to watch."
Former U.S. Olympian and 1960 gold-medal decathlon winner Rafer Johnson also sat on the sidelines, excited to watch Special Olympics have the chance to interact with Wooden.
"I'm so inspired seeing that image," said Johnson, a longtime supporter of Special Olympics. "These are athletes who spend a lot of time working on team development. And I can't think of a better opportunity for them than to learn from a coach who helped athletes of all backgrounds and abilities succeed as a team."
Wooden gathered with the players on the court and had one bit of advice – the same for the Special Olympians and the UCLA players.
"You are at an age where you will be our leaders," he said. "Make the most of it, young man. Make the most of it."
And when some concern troll asked him about Coach Howland's offense, this is how the Coach fired back (emphasis added):
When a reporter asked what it's like to watch UCLA's boring offense, Wooden quipped: "It's never boring to do well. In most any sport, the final analysis is that the best defensive team wins."
There is nothing to add to that.
Tip off is scheduled for 4 pm PST. The game thread will go up about half an hour before it.
Enjoy your Sat.