clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Concerns About Coach

Yes we have a huge game on Thursday night. But I will start today talking about the heart and soul of UCLA basketball: Coach John Wooden. By all accounts Coach is doing fine now. He is improving every day and he might be out of the hospital today so he can take in tomorrow night’s big game from his own place.

Coach will certainly on the mind of our Ben Ball warriors. They were thinking of him when they were playing against Arizona:

Freshman center Kevin Love said Coach Ben Howland told the team about former coach John Wooden's hospitalization before Sunday's game at Arizona.

"A lot of us were really upset," Love said. "Thinking about that gave us a little extra incentive. We said before the game we were going to do it for Coach Wooden. Especially for me, I've tried to embrace the tradition here, with everything Coach Wooden did, to play the rest of this season for him and to win a title under UCLA's name would be something special."

Shipp said he had been "devastated" when he heard the news.
What is more concerting is the news coming out of LA Times today. According to Bill Dwyre’s report in the LAT in which he provides details behind Wooden’s injury, Coach ' had to survive alone on the floor for perhaps as long as seven hours' (emphasis added):
"It was hard to see him sitting there in that hospital bed," Howland said, before elaborating on a conversation he had had with Tony Spino, a UCLA trainer who has been checking in on Wooden every Monday through Saturday morning for quite some time. Howland said it was Spino who found Wooden that morning.

"You guys would get a kick out of this, and you should call Tony," Howland continued. "It took three hours to get an ambulance to pick him up out of Glendale. There was concern by someone that they wanted Coach to wait while he had his broken wrist and collarbone, because there was somebody else in the hospital and there was a bunch of media around and the doctors were concerned the media would see Coach Wooden. And so it was like, no, no, wait.

"You have to ask Tony. He can tell you the story. Pretty ridiculous."

Asking Tony, according to UCLA sports information director Marc Dellins, was not an option. Dellins said the family would not want the information revealed by Howland made public.

It was a decent try by Dellins, but he knew better. It was a news conference. One of the premier coaches in the game was talking about a legend, and with no apparent agenda other than concern.

Later, Nan Muehlhausen, Wooden's daughter, helped diffuse the situation by explaining that the Wooden family had made the decision to allow the ambulance delay because of its ongoing wish to retain its father's dignity and not deliver him to a lobby full of paparazzi.

Muehlhausen said that the family was happy with the way the ambulance people handled things, happy with the doctors and didn't think the ambulance saga had taken nearly three hours.

It turns out that the paparazzi had been on hand at the hospital because of the presence of singer Bobby Brown.

But from all this emerged more questions, the main ones being why a 97-year-old man still lives alone and how it came to pass that he had to survive alone on the floor for perhaps as long as seven hours.

These are the facts, as pieced together from family and friends.
Now in the Daily News Dohn has quotes from Nan Muehlhausen in which she states there was ‘nothing negligent’ wrt to how long it took for the ambulance to pick up Coach:
"Tony called the ambulance," Muehlhausen said. "He got him into bed. His pulse was good. He fell asleep. He was resting comfortably. It was not an emergency. We were told by the doctor's office that there was a lot of press there for (singer) Bobby Brown. He was in the emergency room and all the press was there.

"There was nothing negligent on the ambulance's part. The press was all over Bobby Brown, and I knew they'd be all over my dad. The doctor was ready for him when we got there. It was great. We didn't have to wait for X-rays. It was boom, boom, boom."
I take Mrs. Muehlhausen at her word. I believe her.

However, I am also with Coach Howland in being concerned about what took place. Keep in mind Coach Howland is even more sensitive to this issue than anyone else given the fact he just recently lost his Dad.

And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Coach Wooden is part of our family. I understand and respect the wishes of his immediate family who want to preserve his privacy and independence.

However, at the same time we all should be deeply concerned about the Coach in every which way.

UCLA has an obligation to make sure the Coach and his family has everything he needs to make sure this kind of situation never happens again. Coach Wooden should never have to wait for an ambulance and he should be able to get care from anywhere, any time in the city of Los Angeles. So I hope that’s is something the Chancellor Gene Block and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero are paying attention to this week. All of this is lot more important than games. As I mentioned above this is about taking care of the heart and soul of our cherished hoops program.