Our Coach Forever. Photo Credit: UCLA Newsroom
Since Coach left us for Nell, there have been outpouring of well wishes and heart-felt emotional reactions from all over the sports world. We have been reading through the reactions coming from all over the country and blogging about them here on BN. In this post, I wanted to thread together all the reactions that have poured in from all corners from Sports Blog Nation.
Going through these posts, fanshots and comments, just give us another little glimpse of Coach's reach as an American cultural icon. I will start with the reactions coming from fellow Southern Californians on SBN. The perfect place to begin is the Silver Screen and Roll, where Dexter Fishmore (a Bruin alum) raised a glass in honor of Coach from the world of Purple and Gold:
If you're a sports fan living in L.A., you know what an enormous shadow Coach Wooden has always cast over the city. This isn't a town that canonizes coaches easily. Even the greatest Laker coaches of all time, the Pat Rileys and Phil Jacksons, have occasionally been casualties of the demands and expectations we put on them. Not Wooden. He conquered the L.A. sports scene and stayed on the throne. His unfathomable success on the court, the lifelong influence he had on the players he coached and the gracious manner in which he held himself and treated others made him a towering figure, and rightly so.
If you're reading this, it's because the sport of basketball is important to you. You wouldn't be on this site if the game hasn't brought you enormous pleasure and satisfaction over the years. For that you should thank Coach Wooden. He was a strategic and tactical innovator, and the empire he built at UCLA helped the sport grow and become the cultural institution it is today.
Over at ClipsNation comments poured in honor of Coach in this fanpost. TrueBlueLA embedded Vin Scully's moving tribute to Coach during the Dodger's victory over Atlanta Braves. Just as moving as Scully's comment, was the following story in a Halos Heaven, in which sothball wrote about his amazing experience of meeting Coach at a UCLA basketball camp:
What impressed me most about Mr. Wooden was his humility. At the time I attended his camp, the UCLA teams he coached were winning NCAA championships with such regularity they seemed pre-ordained. He could have cashed in this success with a healthy NBA career. Instead, he chose to continue coaching at the collegiate level and running his basketball camps because he so much enjoyed teaching and working with youth.
He was as approachable as your favorite grand-parent, and equally warm. The day I asked him to autograph the attached "Pyramid of Success" provides an example. I heard he was in the coach's office, so I went there to ask for the autograph. He was eating his lunch with the other coaches, a combination of his assistants at UCLA and high school coaches from Pacific Palisades High School. They were deeply engrossed in a discussion of basketball strategy. I was somewhat embarrassed that I had interrupted their lunch and discussion. One of the coaches gave me a look that I interpreted as "Go away, kid". Wooden put down his sandwich and immediately autographed the document. He then asked me some questions, such as my age, how many years I had attended the camp, what I liked about the camp, and what I thought would help me learn more. I was really too stunned to give more than cursory responses. He again wished me well, and said to come back to talk anytime I wanted.
Mr. Wooden finally gets to re-unite with his life long love - his wife Nell - that preceded him in death by about 20 years. Thanks you sir for some memorable years of college baskeball. Thanks for the "Pyramid of Success". More than anything, thanks for all that you helped me learn, about basketball and life. May your timeless, classic lessons and ideas continue to thrive.
While we have read about Coach's close relationship with Joe Torre, the Halos Heaven also posted anecdote about Coach meeting Mike Scioscia. We are just getting started here. There is so much more after the jump.There were lot of posts featuring comments from Bruin alums and individuals who have gotten close with Coach over the years. Swish Appeal, which is the best blog out there providing commentary and analysis on women's hoops, marked Coach's passing as "a sad day, but a day to celebrate." SA also talked to Ann Meyers-Drysdale, who not surprisingly was emotional over Coach:
General thoughts on John Wooden:
"I'm crying inside, but my heart is happy that he's with Nellie. And I think that's what he's wanted all along -- didn't know it'd be this hard because I'd been expecting it. I just know that he's at peace and that's what we were all hoping for. The fact that he was with us 99 years is very impressive and he knew what was going on. The stories were always incredible. You could never spend enough time in his presence -- he just made you feel like a better person. So, love him, miss him, but I know he's happy."
On what Wooden meant to Meyers-Drysdale personally and to the game:
"Well, he's my papa. My brother David played for him and I didn't play for him -- I wasn't one of his boys -- but certainly felt like I was one of the family, which I know a lot of people did. So he will always be with me, my children are very close to him too. The whole family's been great but I'm grateful for the fact that every time I spent with him, deep down -- it could have been the last time, but -- I just always cherished every moment I had with him."
"Tremendous memories from the standpoint as a student there I had some friends who were on the basketball team and I used to watch practice all the time. Seeing him work, seeing the way he always tried to bring the best out of each individual and by bringing the best out of each individual, that made them a great team. His calmness, his decorum having met him, spoken to him, just his overall demeanor, his outlook on life is tremendous. I think we've lost a very unique and a very special person. I've gotten emails from teammates of mine who were there at the same time and everybody is expressing how much they appreciated him. A lot of guys have the Pyramid of Success in their offices signed by him. It's a huge loss, but we were very fortunate to have him here for 99-plus years. He's a very, very special person and UCLA and sports are going to miss him."
"There is a great sense of emptiness today. We all knew this day was coming, and there was nobody more prepared for it than Coach Wooden because of his devout faith in God and his love for his late wife Nell and the knowledge that he would one day be together with her again. He was a man at peace."
"Still, that sense of emptiness comes from knowing we have lost a national treasure."
The admiration of Coach Coughlin of Coach should not be news to anyone here on BN. Here was the tWWL story on Coughlin's devotion to Coach that Tele posted during the Giant's most recent Super Bowl championship.
While we are on NFL teams, it makes sense to bring up the Chiefs. There has always been a close connection between Kansas City and UCLA thanks to Carl Peterson, who have drafted guys like Donnie Edwards and Jarrad Page to play for the Chiefs. So naturally Arrowhead Pride paid their respect to Coach in their headlines post. There were also tributes from the Daily Norseman (the best Vikings blog on the internets) and 49ers coach Mike Singletary on Niners Nation:
"Good afternoon. I guess the first thing that I want to say is in concerning [former UCLA basketball coach] John Wooden yesterday. I guess news has continued, I'm not sure which day it happened whether it was Thursday, Wednesday, I'm not sure. He's a man to me, in this field of coaching, that deserves all of the credit in the world. I think he did a tremendous amount of mentoring at every level. He's the kind of coach that what he did reached boundaries outside of basketball. I had a chance to meet him, visit with him, talk to him on the phone. He was very nice to me whenever I had the opportunity to meet with him. I'll forever be indebted to him for the things that he talked about."
On the time and circumstances of meeting Wooden:
"A couple of years ago we were in the same place during the offseason. He was speaking and I was there basically to help honor some of the athletes that were awarded. I think it was academics that were there. I was there and he was speaking. After he spoke I just ran down and found him and had a chance to visit with him. I had talked to him on the phone previously, just simply because I was intrigued by the amount of success he'd had. When you have that kind of success in any field, it's really a phenomenal feat. He is someone that any coach would want to follow in those kinds of footsteps."
On any advice Wooden gave him:
"What he did was give me a card that had seven things that his father taught him and carried over into coaching. Those seven things I have in my wallet at all times. Other than that, it was just whatever you do, just be yourself and don't shy away from things you believe at heart."
Elsewhere, there was remembrance from Front Office Fans and moment of silence in Coach's honor at Blogging The Brackets.The post at Blogging The Brackets, allows me to pivot on to the college world and I will start with our Pac-10 (for how long?) conference. John Berkowitz noted at UW Dawg Pound that "there will never be another one" like Coach:
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden passed away today at the ripe old age of 99. Coach Wooden is the standard all coaches in any sport are measured by. There will never be another one like him.
I learned how the game of basketball watching the teams Wooden and then Ralph Miller put on the floor, where ideas like being able to shoot, rebound, run, and play defense were just assumed. So did an entire generation, and college basketball went to a whole new level, as a nation was forced to step up their game because of what the Bruins accomplished under Wooden's guidance.
True legends, the kind that change their game, don't come along that long, but Wooden not only was one, he trained a few more of them, most notably then Lew Alcindor, who became known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Walton.
While it was always a challenge to play UCLA, it was also a privilege, because it was a test against the best.
UCLA, the (then) Pac-8, and all of college sports, not just basketball, has truly lost a treasure.
Beaver Nation, Building The Dam, and Oregon St. join with our brothers and sisters across the conference in extending our condolences to the Wooden family, UCLA and Bruin Nation.
Speaking of the Pac-10, it's an easy transition to the Big-12 (these days at least), where Texas fans paid their respect to Coach on Burnt Orange Nation. Over at Corn Nation, Jon Johnston posted the thoughts of another legendary college coach - Tom Osborne - on Coach:
I have always been a big fan of John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA. John talks about success. Essentially the way he defines success is very similar to the way I would define it. It is doing the best you can with what you have been given. Sometimes there are people who are in given coaching situations where maybe they don't have much in the way of facilities or a large amount of players to come out for a sport.
And maybe they have losing season after losing season but they may have done a great job because they did the best job with what they had. There are many families who, financially or for whatever reason struggle in many ways. But if you have done all you can with what you have been given I feel that you are successful. That is not the way our culture normally measures success but that is the way I would look at it.
That is pretty good stuff. Moving over to the Big East, Card Chronicle, representing school of perhaps Coach's most famous assistant - Danny Crum - took note of his passing by posting his famous quotes and perhaps our favorite here on BN: "the intergalactic treasure".
For UCLA fans and for fans of college basketball, Wooden's passing has allowed many outside this realm to remember or be reintroduced to a legendary teacher. It is a bittersweet occasion. While we mourn his passing and regret that there will no longer be this wonderful man to learn from, we now are free to reflect upon all he has taught and how he has reached so many people.
With Bo's passing, everyone, even Buckeye fans, were Wolverines for a moment. Someone who made up a piece of who we are had passed, and even our most bitter rivals respected that loss. For those who only knew Bo from a distance, his passing gave people outside Michigan the chance to see Bo for the great, yet sometimes imperfect man that he was. And it let others understand why we loved him so much.
Now our friends at UCLA have lost the man that helped craft the very definition of what it means to be a Bruin, and there really aren't words to describe that loss. What can you say when a legend, a father, a devoted husband, and a good man all pass at the same time, other than to say it is a loss that will take time to come terms with. A great light has gone out and we are all the lesser because of it.
To the Wooden and UCLA families I offer my deepest sympathies for your loss. I can only say that he was a wonderful teacher, and I think that's how he wanted to be remembered.
From Bo to Bear Bryant, Alabama fans wished us well at Roll Bama Roll. It was also moving to read comments from so many Crimson Tide fans who came over to BN during the weekend. Joel over at Rocky Top Talk, took note of our color change and there were also warm gestures from And The Valley Shook, who posted Coach's picture in their game thread against Bruins.
Staying with the SEC, Sea Of Blue bid "Farewell and Godspeed" to Coach:
Today we say "Farewell and Godspeed" to coach John Wooden, who passed away last night in Los Angeles. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family, his friends, and his extended family of UCLA Bruin players and fans.
[H]e is to college hoops what Bear Bryant is to college football, what Vince Lombardi is to the NFL and what John McGraw is to MLB. If you've heard of the sport, you know who they are -- and, actually, Wooden is probably better known to the non-NCAABB fan than McGraw to the non-MLB fan, but that's a story for another day.
Wooden died late Friday at the age of 99.
Whenever the best at anything dies without a major personal issue to tarnish him or her, it's a sad day. So it was for John Wooden. I couldn't cite you all the records and titles and numbers as well as basketball fans could, but I know he was the greatest. And I know, from what I've seen since then, that he was an even better man and was greatly beloved.
And I know the world is a lesser place without him.
Again, I have to say it was pretty amazing to read all the well wishes and prayers coming in from bloggers and commenters from SEC teams. I got tired of the usual Pac-10/SEC smack talk a while ago because of the great exchanges we have always had with one SEC blogs after another. It speaks to the class with which moderators of blogs run their communities.
Lastly, wanted to end this roundup with thoughts from bloggers from Coach's alma mater at Hammer and Rails:
These values (Coach's seven point creed, BN Ed.) were instilled in him by his father, Joshua, before he set foot on Purdue's campus. Because his father passed it to him, he made sure to pass it to others. That is the smallest thing we can do and the most important thing we can take from Coach Wooden's 99 years. He wanted to be known as a mentor first and a basketball coach second. He was an honest man who looked for the good in others and worked with them to realize their maximum potential.
I never met coach Wooden. I always wanted to because of his Purdue roots and his contributions to the game I love so much. I know I won't have that chance now, at least in this life, but I am proud that his legacy will continue on.
And we will make sure we do everything we can to remember Coach's amazing accomplishments as a Boilermaker.
Our apologies to those who we might have left out due to oversight. Thanks again to all those communities and so many other blogs and forums, where hundreds if not thousands of comments poured showing love, respect and honor for the greatest Coach in American sports.
Many have noted this already but it is worth reiterating again. It is deeply moving to see how overwhelming majority of these tributes have to do with Coach as a teacher and a human being, but not so much to do with his unmatched success as a basketball Coach. That is simply awe inspiring and is one reason last few days have turned into celebration in remembrance of the greatest Bruin representing those four letters.
Thanks again to everyone above on SBN for helping us cope in recent days.