Coach Wooden, Helped EVERYONE Live up to Their Potential

Photo Credit: UCLA Newsroom

Sometimes you get the sense that some people think, except for the first championship, Wooden had such good players he couldn't lose. Well yes, the players were good but not only did Wooden make them better, in some cases he was the only coach who get them to play to their true potential.

There may not be a better example than Sidney Wicks, the star of the UCLA teams between Kareem and Walton. Sidney was a great talent but I doubt any other coach could have made as much of Sidney as did Wooden. A sports psychologist named Bruce Ogiive once examined Sidney and told his first pro team: "Bruce was unbelievably honest about the frailties in Sidney's athletic personality. The more Bruce talked, the more the owners slumped in their chairs. Sidney didn't fall down in just one or two categories, but four or five, which really raised the red flag."

How did Wooden do it?  From They Call Me Coach:

As a sophomore, Sidney disappointed me as often as he made me happy. Feeling that he did not have his game under control, I didn't start him many times that year. He was still too much of an individual to work into my concept of team play. Sidney, of course, did not like that he wasn't starting all of the time when he knew he was physically better than the others.

[Wooden then tells how he realized most of his annual team letter was written to Sidney, quoting from the letter]
"There may seem to be double standards at times as I most certainly will not treat you all alike in every respect. However. I will attempt to give each individual the treatment he earns and deserves according to my judgment, in keeping with what I consider in the best interests of the team."

[He then proved this when Wicks wanted to show him as the best player he could shoot further out:]


"If I can hit ten in a row from here," he {WIcks] said pointing to an imaginary line about 25 feet out and a little more of an angle than I preferred, "will you let me shoot from here in the game."

"I sure will." . . . Sidney I guess didn't believe what he had heard. "If you get ten in a row, I'll let you shoot from there.".

[Sidney makes the first nine and missed the tenth.]
"That ought to be good enough, huh, coach?" Sidney asked.
"Not for me.". . . Sidney just laughed and went to the next phase of warm-up. He knew deep down I was right ... But he was very pleased with what he showed me. What he did not know was that I was equally pleased.

Wooden realized he had a great athlete and potential player in Wicks. That was confirmed when the Power Forward Wicks made nine tough OUTSIDE shots in a row. But Wicks had to learn to play on the team. Wooden wasn't just a disciplinarian. Wooden had to reason with WIcks and his personality. He treated Wicks differently because Wicks needed it. And it worked best for Wooden and UCLA and Wicks.

In what might be the ultimate proof. Sideny Wicks may be the only player in NBA History to score less every year of his pro career. The further Wicks got from Wooden, the worse he became.

In part this was because Wooden was such a great coach that he could take a great athlete with personality problems and make him the star of a team. This is yet another example why Wooden is the greatest coach of all time.  

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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