John Wooden - Rest in Peace
The greatest college basketball coach ever, John Wooden passed away tonight at the age of 99. Others will talk about the number of victories and championships his teams won. Personally, I was most impressed with the man's impact on his players as men. He is the only coach I'm aware of that is universally loved by his former players. Long after playing for him, his players would speak reverentially of him. They didn't talk about his game plans or his coaching. No, they always mentioned his affect on them as young men.
While Wooden is best known for his coaching exploits, he was also a great player. He led his high school team to the state championship three straight year winning once. He played college ball for Purdue University leading them to one national championship. He played professionally for several years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He is one of only three men elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player later enshrined again as a coach.
More importantly as he moves on from this life, Wooden was a man of faith. Hundreds of his sayings and quotes are repeated. However, the one that struck me most had nothing to do with sports. He frequently said: "If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me." You have to read that a few times for the essence of his faith to sink in. We should all pray to have that much faith.
Rest in peace Coach Wooden your impact on the world will last for years to come.
Coincidentally, a long time friend of Wooden's and the chairman/co-founder of the John R. Wooden Award, Richard "Duke" Llewellyn also passed away today at 93.