John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball player and coach. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including an unprecedented seven in a row. Within this period, his teams won a men’s basketball-record 88 consecutive games. Wooden’s streak of seven consecutive NCAA Championships is even more remarkable and impressive because to this day no other coach or school has won the tournament more than two consecutive years.
Wooden was named national coach of the year six times.
As a 5′ 10″ guard, Wooden was the first to be named basketball All-American three times, and the 1932 Purdue team on which he played as a senior was retroactively recognized as the pre-NCAA Tournament national champion by the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll. Wooden was named a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (in 1973), the first person ever enshrined in both categories. Only Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn have since been accorded the same honors.
One of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, Wooden was beloved by his former players, among them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (originally Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success”. These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.
During his tenure with the Bruins, Wooden became known as the “Wizard of Westwood,” although he personally disdained the nickname. He 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 established a then-record winning streak of 88 games and four perfect 30–0 seasons. They also won 38 straight games in NCAA tournaments and 98 straight home wins at Pauley Pavilion.
“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. He was given a Bruin powder blue Mercedes that season as a retirement gift. 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.
Accomplishments and honors
Helms and Premo-Porretta National Championships (1932)
10 NCAA Divsion I Tournament Championships (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975)
12 NCAA Regional Championships – Final Four (1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
College Basketball Hall of Fame (2006)
National Basketball Hall of Fame (1972)
6 NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year
Basketball All-American (1930, 1931, 1932)
College Basketball Player of the Year (1932)
NBL scoring leader (1933)
NBL First Team (1938)
National Basketball Hall of Fame (1960)
Henry Iba Award Coach of the Year (1964)
Presidential Medal of Freedom