|Title||Head coach emeritus|
|Born||October 14, 1910|
|Place of birth||Hall, Indiana,
*1932 National Championship
*1964 NCAA National Championship
*1965 NCAA National Championship
*1967 NCAA National Championship
*1968 NCAA National Championship
*1969 NCAA National Championship
*1970 NCAA National Championship
*1971 NCAA National Championship
*1972 NCAA National Championship
*1973 NCAA National Championship
*1975 NCAA National Championship
Regional Championships – Final Four
(1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
|2006 founding class, College Basketball Hall of Fame
1972 National Basketball Hall of Fame as a Coach
6 time NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year
1930 Basketball All-American
1931 Basketball All-American
1932 Basketball All-American
1932 College Basketball Player of the Year
1960 National Basketball Hall of Fame as a Player
1964 Henry Iba Award Coach of the Year
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Indiana State University
|Basketball Hall of Fame, 1961|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame, 2006|
John Robert Wooden (born October 14, 1910) is a retired American basketball coach. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. His 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach.
Born in 1910 in the small town of Hall, Indiana, Wooden moved with his family to a small farm in Centerton in 1918. As a boy one of his role models was Fuzzy Vandivier of the Franklin Wonder Five, a legendary basketball team that dominated Indiana high school basketball from 1919 to 1922. After his family moved to the town of Martinsville when he was 14, he led the high school team to the state championship finals for three consecutive years, winning the tournament in 1927. He was a three time All-State selection.
After graduating in 1928, he attended Purdue University and was coached by Ward "Piggy" Lambert. He helped lead the Boilermakers to the 1932 National Championship, as determined by a panel vote rather than the NCAA tournament, which did not begin until 1939. John Wooden was named All-Big Ten and All-Midwestern (1930–32) while at Purdue, and he was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American. He was also selected for membership in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Wooden is also an honorary member of the International Co-Ed Fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Wooden was nicknamed "The Indiana Rubber Man" for his suicidal dives on the hardcourt. He graduated from Purdue in 1932 with a degree in English.
After college, Wooden spent several years playing professionally with the Indianapolis Kautskys (later the Indianapolis Jets), Whiting Ciesar All-Americans, and Hammond Ciesar All-Americans while teaching and coaching in the high school ranks. During one 46-game stretch he made 134 consecutive free throws. He was named to the NBL's First Team for the 1937–38 season. In 1942, he enlisted in the Navy where he gained the rank of lieutenant during World War II. In 1960 he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his achievements as a player.
Wooden is the son of Roxie Anna and Joshua Hugh Wooden. He had three brothers: Maurice, Daniel, and William. His two sisters died before reaching the age of three. One was unnamed and died in infancy, while Cordelia died from diphtheria when she was two.
Wooden met his future wife, Nell Riley, at a carnival in July 1926. They married in a small ceremony in Indianapolis in August 1932. Afterwards, they attended a Mills Brothers concert at the Circle Theatre to celebrate. John and his wife had a son, James Hugh Wooden, and a daughter, Nancy Anne Muehlhausen. Nell died on March 21, 1985 from cancer.
Wooden has remained devoted to Nell, even decades after her death. Since her death, he has kept to a monthly ritual (health permitting)—on the 21st, he visits her grave, and then writes a love letter to her. After completing the letter, he places it in an envelope and adds it to a stack of similar letters that has accumulated over the years on the pillow she slept on during their life together.
In mourning Nell's death, Wooden has been comforted by his faith. He has been a Christian for many years and his beliefs are more important to him than basketball, "I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior." Wooden's faith has strongly influenced his life. He reads the Bible daily and attends the First Christian Church. He has said that he hopes his faith is apparent to others, "If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me."
Wooden coached two years at Dayton High School in Kentucky. His first year at Dayton marked the only time he had a losing record (6–11) as a coach. After Dayton, he returned to Indiana, teaching English and coaching basketball at South Bend Central High School until entering the Armed Forces. His high school coaching record over 11 years, two at Dayton and nine at Central, was 218–42.
After World War II, Wooden coached at Indiana Teacher's College (now named Indiana State University) in Terre Haute, Indiana, from 1946 to 1948, succeeding his high school coach, Glenn Curtis. In addition to his duties as basketball coach, Wooden also coached baseball and served as athletic director, all while teaching and completing his master's degree in Education. In 1947, Wooden's basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) National Tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players. One of Wooden's players on the team was Clarence Walker, an African-American athlete from East Chicago, Indiana.
That same year, Wooden's alma mater Purdue University wanted him to return to campus and serve as an assistant to then-head coach Mel Taube until Taube's contract expired. Wooden declined, citing his loyalty to Taube, as this would have effectively made Taube a lame-duck coach.
In 1948, Wooden again led Indiana State to the conference title. The NAIB had reversed its policy banning African-American players that year, and Wooden coached his team to the NAIB National Tournament final, losing to Louisville. This was the only championship game ever lost by a Wooden-coached team. That year, Walker became the first African-American to play in any post-season intercollegiate basketball tournament. John Wooden was inducted into the Indiana State University Athletic Hall of Fame on February 3, 1984.
After the 1947–48 season, Wooden became the head coach at UCLA, after negotiating for a three-year contract. UCLA had actually been his second choice for a coaching position in 1948. He had also been pursued for the head coaching position at the University of Minnesota, and it was his and his wife's desire to remain in the Midwest. But inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking that they had lost interest, Wooden accepted the head coaching job with the Bruins instead. Officials from the University of Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined their offer because he had given his word to the Bruins.
Wooden immediately displayed the rarest quality a coach can effect: "instant turnaround" for an undistinguished, faltering program. In 1948 he took a UCLA team that had 12–13 losing season the previous year and transformed it into a PCC Southern Division Champion with a 22–7, the most wins for a UCLA season since it started playing basketball in 1919. He surpassed that number the next season with 24–7 and a second Southern Division Championship and won a third and fourth straight Southern Division Championship his first four years. Up to that time, UCLA had collected a total of two such championships the previous 30 years. By 1956, he guided UCLA to its first undefeated PCC conference title and 17 straight wins until finally falling to the indomitable USF team lead by Bill Russell in the NCAA Tournament.
In spite of success, Wooden reportedly didn't initially enjoy the position and his wife did not care for living in Los Angeles. As such, once Mel Taube left Purdue in 1950, Wooden's inclination was to return and finally accept the head coaching job there. He was ultimately dissuaded when UCLA officials reminded him that it was he who insisted upon a three-year commitment during negotiations in 1948. With that in mind, Wooden felt that leaving UCLA prior to the expiration of his contract would be tantamount to breaking his word and thus decided to again pass on the job at Purdue.
During his tenure with the Bruins, Wooden became known as the "Wizard of Westwood" (although he personally hated the nickname) and gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. His UCLA teams also had a record winning streak of 88 games and four perfect 30–0 seasons. They also won 38 straight games in NCAA Tournaments and a record 98 straight home games at Pauley Pavilion. In 1967, he was named the Henry Iba Award USBWA College Basketball Coach of the Year. In 1972, he received Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year award. Wooden coached his final game in Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, in a 93–59 victory over Stanford. Four weeks later he surprisingly announced his retirement following a 75–74 NCAA semi-final victory, over Louisville and before his 10th national championship game victory over Kentucky. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973, becoming the first to be honored as both a player and a coach.
"He never made more than $35,000 a year salary (not including camps and speaking engagements), including 1975, the year he won his 10th national championship, and never asked for a raise," wrote Rick Reilly of ESPN. According to his own writings, Wooden turned down an offer to coach the Los Angeles Lakers from owner Jack Kent Cooke that may have been ten times what UCLA was paying him.
|Indiana State (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1946–1948)|
|1947–1948||Indiana State||27–7||7–0||1||NAIB National Finalist|
|UCLA (Pacific Coast Conference) (1948–1959)|
|1949–1950||UCLA||24–7||10–2||1 (South)||NCAA Regional 4th Place|
|1951–1952||UCLA||19–12||8–4||1 (South)||NCAA Regional 4th Place|
|1955–1956||UCLA||22–6||16–0||1||NCAA Regional 3rd Place|
|UCLA (Pacific-8 Conference) (1959–1975)|
|1961–1962||UCLA||18–11||10–2||1||NCAA 4th Place|
|1962–1963||UCLA||20–9||8–5||T–1||NCAA Regional 4th Place|
|1973–1974||UCLA||26–4||12–2||1||NCAA 3rd Place|
National Champion Conference Regular Season Champion Conference Tournament Champion
|Year||Record||Final Opponent||Final Score||Notes|
|1964||30–0||Duke||98–83||John Wooden wins his first national title in his sixteenth season at UCLA. Walt Hazzard stars for UCLA as the Bruins make a 16–0 run late in the first half to beat Duke and their All-American Jeff Mullins.|
|1965||28–2||Michigan||91–80||The Bruins are led by senior All-American guard Gail Goodrich and their zone press. Goodrich scores 42 points in the final against Michigan and Cazzie Russell.|
|1967||30–0||Dayton||79–64||The Bruins start a junior and four sophomores, including Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). UCLA defeats unranked Dayton and Don May in the title game.|
|1968||29–1||North Carolina||78–55||UCLA's 47-game winning streak comes to an end on January 20 when the Bruins are beaten by Houston and All-American Elvin Hayes in the Astrodome 71–69 in front of the biggest college basketball crowd in NCAA history (52,693). The game was known as the Game of the Century. Lew Alcindor was limited from having been hospitalized the week before with a scratched cornea. The Bruins, at full strength, avenged the loss in a rematch with Houston in the NCAA semi-finals, beat the Cougars 101–69. UCLA then defeated North Carolina in the title game to become the only team to win consecutive NCAA championships twice.|
|1969||29–1||Purdue||92–72||UCLA defeats Wooden's alma mater Purdue and their All-America Rick Mount in the championship game. UCLA becomes the only school to win three NCAA Basketball Championships in a row and Wooden becomes the first coach to win five NCAA championships. Lew Alcindor finishes his career at UCLA with an 88–2 record.|
|1970||28–2||Jacksonville||80–69||Even with the graduation of Alcindor (Abdul-Jabbar), UCLA wins its fourth in a row. The Bruins come back from a nine-point first have deficit as Sidney Wicks outshines Artis Gilmore in title game.|
|1971||29–1||Villanova||68–62||Senior Steve Patterson scores 29 points in the championship game against Villanova and tourney MVP Howard Porter as UCLA wins their fifth in a row. In the semi-final game, UCLA overcomes an 11-point deficit to defeat Long Beach State, 57–55.|
|1972||30–0||Florida State||81–76||Sophomore Bill Walton leads the Bruins to their sixth championship in a row. The Bruins have a rough time with Florida State and their great ball handler, Otto Petty, in the closest game of all their title wins, but their margin of victory in the NCAA tournament is a record 30.3 points. They become the first team to post three 30–0 seasons.|
|1973||30–0||Memphis State||87–66||The Bruins become the only team in history with back-to-back undefeated seasons as they win their seventh straight. In the championship game, Bill Walton hits 21 of 22 field goal attempts and scores 44 points in one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of the NCAA tournament.|
|1975||28–3||Kentucky||92–85||Coach Wooden ends his 27-year UCLA coaching career by winning his tenth national championship in 12 years. He announces his retirement during the post-game press conference of the semi-final win against Louisville, and the UCLA players give him a going away present with a win over Kentucky and their captain, Jimmy Dan Conner. For the Bruins, Richard Washington and Dave Meyers score 28 and 24 points respectively to offset Kevin Grevey's game-high 34.|
The John Wooden era at UCLA is unrivaled in terms of national championships. The next-closest school, on the women's side, Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball has won eight championships with the next-winningest coach, Pat Summitt. For men's basketball, Adolph Rupp won four national championships; Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski have three titles each and Knight has an undefeated season (Wooden had four; no other coach has more than one).
UCLA celebrates John Wooden Day every February 29.
Wooden has been recognized numerous times for his achievements. UCLA continues to honor Wooden with the title of Head Men's Basketball Coach Emeritus On November 17, 2006, Wooden was recognized for his impact on college basketball as a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was one of five, along with Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Dean Smith and Dr. James Naismith, selected to represent the inaugural class. He was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 in St. Louis. Coach Wooden was the ninth honoree in the Missouri Valley Conference’s Lifetime Achievement category. Wooden said the honor he was most proud of was "Outstanding Basketball Coach of the U.S." by his denomination, the Christian Church.
Since 1977, one of the four college basketball player of the year awards has been named the John R. Wooden Award. Two annual doubleheader men's basketball events called the "John R. Wooden Classic" and the "John R. Wooden Tradition" are held in Wooden's honor.
He has schools and athletic facilities named after him. The gym at his alma mater Martinsville High School bears his name, and in 2005 a high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District was renamed to John R. Wooden High School. In 2003, UCLA dedicated the basketball court in Pauley Pavilion in honor of John and Nell Wooden. Named the "Nell & John Wooden Court," Wooden asked for the change from the original proposal of the "John & Nell Wooden Court," insisting that his wife's name should come first. In 2008, Indiana State also bestowed this honor on Wooden by naming their home court in the Hulman Center the "Nellie and John Wooden Court." The student recreation center at UCLA is also named in his honor. Also in 2008, Wooden was honored with a commemorative bronze plaque in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Memorial Court of Honor because his UCLA basketball teams played six seasons in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. On Wooden's 96th birthday in 2006, a post office in Reseda, California, near where Wooden's daughter lives, was renamed the Coach John Wooden Post Office. This act was signed by President George W. Bush based on legislation introduced by Congressman Brad Sherman.
On July 23, 2003, John Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. It was presented by George W. Bush after a three year campaign by Andre McCarter, who was on Wooden's 1975 National Championship team. The Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at California State University, Long Beach established the John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award in 2009, with Wooden being the inaugural recipient.
Golf Digest lists John Wooden as one of four people to hit both a double eagle and a hole in one in the same round of golf. The feat was accomplished in 1947 at the South Bend Country Club in South Bend, Indiana.
Four coaches left UCLA in the nine years following Wooden. One former UCLA head coach, ESPN analyst Steve Lavin (fired from UCLA in 2003), has said "The mythology and pathology of UCLA basketball isn't going to change" due to Wooden's legacy and believes that every basketball coach will eventually be fired or forced out from UCLA.
Wooden's immediate successor at UCLA, Gene Bartow, went 28–5 in 1976 and lost 76–75 in the 1977 West Region semi-finals to Idaho State University and won 85.2% of his games (compared to Wooden's 80.8%) in two years, yet received death threats from unsatisfied UCLA fans. Wooden himself has often joked about being a victim of his own success, calling his successors on the phone and playfully identifying himself ominously as "we the alumni..." In his autobiography, Wooden recounts walking off the court after his last game coaching in 1975, having just won his tenth title, only to have a UCLA fan walk up and say, "Great win coach, this makes up for letting us down last year" (UCLA had lost in the semi-finals in 1974)
UCLA went 20 years after Wooden's retirement before winning another national basketball championship, finally hanging a banner again in 1995 under coach Jim Harrick. In 2006, Ben Howland led the team back to the national championship game for the first time since the 1995 title game.
On April 3, 2006, Wooden spent three days in a Los Angeles hospital receiving treatment for diverticulitis. He was hospitalized again in 2007 for bleeding in the colon. He was released to go home on April 14 and his daughter was quoted as saying her father was "doing well." Wooden was hospitalized on March 1, 2008 after a spill in his home caused him to fall. Wooden broke his left wrist and his collarbone in the fall, but remained in good condition according to his daughter and was given around-the-clock supervision. In February 2009 he was hospitalized for four weeks with pneumonia.
Wooden also has authored a lecture and a book about the Pyramid of Success. The Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life.
Wooden is also the author of several other books about basketball and life.
Among Wooden’s maxims:
John Robert Wooden (born October 14, 1910, near Martinsville, Indiana) is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (1961) and a coach (1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. He was the coach for UCLA winning 10 championships in 12 years. He is also famous for his pyramid of success.