Jun 05

The leadership philosophies and quotable quotes of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden will live on.

The leadership philosophies and quotable quotes of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden will live on.

The focus and fanfare surrounding the NBA finals was interrupted this weekend when news of the death of former UCLA coach John Wooden hit the headlines. Wooden passed away at the age of 99, and even though it had been 35 years since his retirement from college basketball coaching, Wooden’s admirers have been speaking about his impact on the sport as if Wooden had just led a team to a championship victory last week. Such is the omnipresence of truly legendary leaders.

Pat Williams, the co-founder of the Orlando Magic, was a big John Wooden fan. In general, Williams is a fan of any person in a leadership position who makes a meaningful impact on a team. In particular, Williams chose Wooden as the subject for the seventh book in his “How to Be Like” series of books not because Wooden led so many winning basketball teams to so many basketball victories, but because of the person that Wooden chose to be whether he was winning basketball games or not.

Wooden showed the sports world that a big-time coach of a big-time team can teach his players to value ethics, integrity, and character more than a win-loss record. And even though winning was a secondary consideration to a Wooden-led basketball team, they still managed to do a lot of it. Wooden, and his 10 NCAA championship teams proved that good guys can, indeed, finish first.

The praise for Wooden in the days after his passing are effusive and plentiful, coming from basketball superstars and sports personalities that are larger and more famous than Wooden ever would have wanted to be. One of the best tributes, however, comes from the first chapter of Williams’ book, “How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader.”

This one simple story from early in Wooden’s career explains why this year’s NBA finals are rightfully sharing the spotlight with this true basketball legend. This story also explains why John Wooden is known and admired by people all over the world who don’t really care much about the really tall people who work so hard to get the orange ball through the metal hoop.

A Tribute to Coach John Wooden from Pat Williams in “How to Be Like Coach Wooden”: Continue reading »

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