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Why Leaders Must Be Alert

Why Leaders Must Be Alert

The first two blocks on the second tier of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success—self-control and alertness—are essential qualities for any leader and team if they are going to perform near to their capability. A leader with self-control will create consistency. A leader...
Why Leaders Must Have Self-Control

Why Leaders Must Have Self-Control

The first block on the second level of Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is self-control, an essential quality for any leader and team if they are going to perform near to their capability. It is necessary that the leader demonstrates self-control if he expects his...
The Foundation of Leadership

The Foundation of Leadership

In his book Wooden on Leadership with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden described how the Pyramid of Success fit in with his ideas on leadership: “The 15 personal qualities of the Pyramid became a virtual leadership guidebook, a clear and concise method of illustrating what...
The Art of Leadership

The Art of Leadership

When Coach Wooden addressed the UCLA Coaches Development Program in 2002 regarding his views on leadership, he shared some ideas from Wilferd Peterson’s essay on “The Art of Leadership” from his book The Art of Living: Related: John Wooden’s Leadership Legacy Simply...
20 Ways to Do Your Best and Be Successful

20 Ways to Do Your Best and Be Successful

In order to be effective in our teaching, we must have rules and suggestions. Related: 10 Traits of an Effective Teacher In an interview with Marv Dunphy for his dissertation “John Robert Wooden: The Coaching Process,” Coach Wooden described the evolution of his...
3 Rules for Giving Positive, Purposeful Criticism

3 Rules for Giving Positive, Purposeful Criticism

In order to be effective in our discipline (teaching, not punishing), we must have tact. Often how we say things is just as important as what we are saying. Related: 10 Traits of an Effective Teacher This issue will focus on the art of discipline. In his book Wooden:...
10 Traits of an Effective Teacher

10 Traits of an Effective Teacher

Coach Wooden defined important aspects of the coach as a teacher in the following manner: “He must continuously be exploring for ways to improve himself in order that he may improve others and welcome every person and everything that may be helpful to him. As has been...
8 Key Elements of a Good Working Relationship

8 Key Elements of a Good Working Relationship

Coach Wooden established four essential components of being a successful coach: the coach as a philosopher, as an example, as a teacher and as a leader. Let’s focus on the teacher-student (coach-player) relationship. Related: How to Set a Good Example Coach Wooden...
How to Set a Good Example

How to Set a Good Example

Coach Wooden established four essential components of being a successful coach: the coach as a philosopher, as an example, as a teacher and as a leader. Let’s talk about what it means to be a teacher. Related: John Wooden’s Leadership Legacy An important...
What It Means to Be a Person of Integrity

What It Means to Be a Person of Integrity

On the right side of the Pyramid of Success, below patience, there are four additional pieces of mortar: integrity, reliability, honesty and sincerity. These are qualities that, together, encompass the genuineness, strength and impact of human character. In his book...
“I grew up in the shadow of UCLA, so I was a huge admirer not only of UCLA but especially of Coach Wooden," Bilas tells SUCCESS. "When I had a chance to meet him, it was a tremendous honor. I don’t think I processed what a gentle soul he was.”
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ESPN analyst and color commentator, and former NBA player
JAY BILAS
“I think he’s looking down on those guys all the time. I think the effect that he had on their lives, they still think, ‘What would Coach Wooden want me to do?’ And that’s about as good a legacy as you can ever think about having.” —A Game Plan for Life by Don Yaeger
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Head coach of the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and recipient of John R. Wooden award
ROY WILLIAMS
In 1999, Don Yaeger called Coach John Wooden and asked for his mentoring. That was the start of a 12-year friendship that culminated in the book, A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring, co-written by Don and Coach Wooden. It was published in 2009, the year Coach Wooden turned 99 years old. Don continues to appreciate the lessons he learned from the philosopher, a teacher, and a humble man everyone called “Coach.”
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Keynote speaker, executive coach, New York Times best-selling author and associate editor for Sports Illustrated
DON YEAGER
“I’m starting my career and I wanted to reach out to great people to see if they would share a moment of their success with a young guy aspiring to be a coach on a collegiate level—at the time I’m a high school coach," Vitale told SUCCESS. "And I was in awe when I got an answer back from Coach Wooden about simply, just be organized, make things simple, and have within you that drive and that desire to really set the tone by being a leader for your players.”
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ESPN sportscaster, former NCAA and NBA coach, and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
DICK VITALE
“I’m forever thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the UCLA program and, as I say, ride the Wooden Wave," Enberg tells SUCCESS. "I’ve had the privilege of introducing Coach many times, and what do you say about John Robert Wooden? I simply boiled it down to the fact that he’s the greatest man I’ve ever met other than my own father. He’s a man of greatness and a man of goodness.”
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NBC sportscaster and former voice of UCLA men’s basketball
DICK ENBERG
“As a coach [John Wooden] was able to adapt to changing circumstances without bending to every trend, without compromising who he was at his core," Costas said in Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections by John Wooden. "His understanding always went beyond the moment; his thoughts and actions guided by enduring principles.”
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NBC primetime host and 27-time Emmy Award-winning journalist
BOB COSTAS
Al Michaels remembers traveling with the UCLA basketball team to a game one winter weekend, where, after the players practiced and showered, he saw Coach go around the room, feeling each player’s head to see if his hair was dry… because he didn’t want any of his boys to catch a cold. “It tickled me so much. I thought, here’s John Wooden, so loved, so admired, so respected by his players, and clearly a man who’s a father figure," Michaels said in How to Be Like Coach Wooden by Pat Williams. "And he’s not only a father figure, but he’s going to be their mother, too.”
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Sportscaster and announcer for the “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics and the earthquake-interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series
AL MICHAELS
“He spelled out in detail, even organized it into a pyramid of building blocks, exactly how he achieved his remarkable success. And now, while he is no longer with us physically, he can still speak to us, he can still mentor us, nearly as face-to-face as if he were in front of us right now physically. I cannot overstate how rare, unique and special this is.”
Author, keynote speaker, advisor and former publisher of SUCCESS magazine
DARREN
HARDY
“John was one of the first of all the people in this great city (Los Angeles) that I ever had the pleasure of meeting,” Scully said at the unveiling of Wooden’s commemorative statue at UCLA. “As the years went by, I realized he has more than just opened the gate for other people. He is not a coach, he is more than a teacher—he really is a genius in his ability to inspire. I think there are a few giants that walk amongst us, and he is certainly one of them.”
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“Baseball’s all-time best broadcaster”
VIN SCULLY
Sinegal was known to implement John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success as a leadership guide within his organization. He praised the wisdom offered in Coach’s 2005 book, Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization. “'Competitive Greatness' is our goal and that of any successful organization. Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is where it all starts.”
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Co-founder and former CEO of Costco
JIM SINEGAL
Myers, a member of the 1995 championship Bruins team, met with Coach Wooden for weekly lunches. Years later when Myers became Golden State Warriors GM, he kept Wooden's wisdom close at hand by saving 'Woodenisms' in his phone. “Wooden had always said ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity.’ So maybe my whole life I was preparing to be a hard worker so I could have that opportunity at UCLA,” Myers told the Los Angeles Daily News.
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Former UCLA basketball player and general manager of the Golden State Warriors
BOB MYERS
In a 2013 TED Talk, Gates said teachers, like athletes, need their Vince Lombardi or John Wooden for feedback and mentorship. He long admired Wooden's philosophies. Years earlier, Gates invited Wooden to speak to Microsoft employees at their Seattle headquarters in 1995. Later that day, Gates and Wooden (retired from coaching) attended UCLA’s Final Four championship game, and met afterward at Gates’ home.
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Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft
BILL GATES
Dobson interviewed Wooden about the keys to success on his radio show, Family Talk, where Coach was a guest for the Timeless Wisdom episodes. On Wooden, “His memorable mottos, unforgettable turns of phrase and timeless, sage advice have enriched countless lives,” Dobson said.
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Author, psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family
JAMES
DOBSON
“I’ll never forget the day I got SUCCESS magazine, and I opened to the middle of it, and there was the Pyramid of Success. I cut it out, and I taped the Pyramid of Success on the side of my filing cabinet so that every day while I would work, I could look over and I could see it.”
Leadership expert, speaker and best-selling author
JOHN MAXWELL
“For years, Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been privileged to be associated with Coach John Wooden. He has been one of FCA’s cornerstone coaches, and each year we honor[ed] him during the NCAA Men’s Final Four Legends of the Harwood Breakfast by presenting an award in his name. Coach exemplifies FCA’s core values of integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence,” he said in Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success by John Wooden and Jay Carty.
Former NFL coach, president and CEO of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
LES STECKEL
Blanchard, a former college basketball player and college assistant coach, met Wooden at a Long Beach State University leadership luncheon after Wooden had turned 85. “Wooden was a gentle, humble man, but he was also a stickler for principles that he considered important,” Blanchard said of that meeting.
Co-founder and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies and author of The One Minute Manager
KEN
BLANCHARD
When Matthew McConaughey played a coach in the movie We Are Marshall, Coach Dale Brown—who called John Wooden his “most significant mentor”—advised him on his role. McConaughey later visited Wooden at his home, where he shared with people his stories and wisdom about the championships he won and his Pyramid of Success.
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Academy Award-winning actor
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHY
“Everything I had been able to accomplish in life I owed to this teacher, this old coach. Everything I learned about leadership, which was how I’d been about to succeed in a business that seems to have nothing to do with basketball, I learned from Coach Wooden.”
Former UCLA basketball player, motivational speaker and author of Be Quick—But Don't Hurry: Finding Success in the Teachings of a Lifetime
ANDY HILL
“Coach John Wooden was a basketball player and coach, but he wasn’t just any coach,” Cathy wrote in a Chick-fil-A leadership blog. “On the first day of basketball practice every year, Coach Wooden would start at the beginning. First, he would instruct his players on how to wear socks. Then, he’d teach them how to tie their shoes.” Cathy, whose leadership values echo Wooden’s values, then asks hypothetically what the beginning looks like for you. “Start there.”
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President and CEO of Chick-fil-A
DAN CATHY
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referenced one of the qualities from John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success or one of his quotes,” Brees said in his 2014 acceptance speech for the Wooden Citizenship Cup, presented to athletes that best display character, teamwork and citizenship. “I’ve written them down, shared them with teammates, and said it to myself.”
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NFL quarterback for the New Orleans Saints
DREW BREES
To prepare for coaching the future NBA superstar, James’ high school basketball coach, Dru Joyce II, “bought every book and tape on basketball he could find: his favorite was The John Wooden Pyramid of Success,” James wrote in Shooting Stars, his 2009 book co-authored with Buzz Bissinger. Joyce mirrored the principles taught by Wooden, and passed those lessons onto his players.
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Cleveland Cavaliers player and three-time NBA champion
LEBRON JAMES
“Coach Wooden was the master at getting to what’s next in life,” Walton tells SUCCESS. “He learned from the past, he dreamed about the future, but he lived in the moment, he lived for today. And don’t ever think for a minute that he was teaching basketball. He never talked about basketball, he talked about life.”
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Sportscaster, former UCLA basketball player and former NBA player
BILL WALTON
Shaquille O’Neal was a part of the 1991 and 1992 Wooden Award All-American Team. O’Neal’s interaction with Coach shows how his influence spread far and wide. One day, Coach Wooden visited Shaq while he was still in college to share his definition of a great player. “The true definition of a great player is how you make your players around you better.”
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Basketball Hall of Famer and four-time NBA champion
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL
“Coach Wooden’s success as a teacher, coach, and a parent are testimony to the wisdom on how he lived his life,” Abdul-Jabbar said at John Wooden’s memorial service. “I really enjoyed his down to earth, genuine concern, and he was so real. I had a lot of great mentors in my life but he looms large.”
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Former UCLA basketball player and six-time NBA champion
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR
During his coaching years, Jackson became interested in Zen philosophy. When Wooden found out about Jackson’s regard for the Zen way, he purchased books on the subject to better understand the philosophy.
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(Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
President of the New York Knicks, former Knicks basketball player and former NBA head coach
PHIL JACKSON
Joe Torre met with his long-time friend Wooden shortly before his death, who asked him to pass along his best wishes to Jeter, the baseball player Wooden most admired, the New York Daily News reported. “Coach told me how much he appreciates the way I play,” Jeter said. “Coming from him, that really meant a lot. I didn't get a chance to spend a lot of time with him, but every time I did, I appreciated it. I'm very happy I had the opportunity to know him a little bit."
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Former MLB player
DEREK JETER
“I basically took the way Coach treated me in practice and away from the court and just did the same with my life. The respect, the high expectations, the never giving up. I actually listened to his entire speech on the Pyramid and copied and took notes on exactly what he did and why I thought it was effective. It works really well.”
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Motivational speaker, former UCLA basketball player, and former ABA and NBA player
SWEN NATER
“I began to realize that all his maxims and the Pyramid was a guide,” Wilkes tells SUCCESS. “I mean whether you played basketball or not. I mean you didn’t even have to be interested in basketball, to relationships, raising family, work, the whole thing. It’s an incredible piece of work that Coach put together.”
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Former UCLA basketball player and four-time NBA champion
JAMAAL WILKES
“You don’t fully understand Coach’s ability to impact one’s life until you experience him impacting yours. His greatness lies not in what he did; his greatness lies not in what he taught. His greatness lies in who he was, his character, his values, his convictions, his faith.”
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Pastor
DUDLEY RUTHERFORD
“Well, there’s no question that Coach Wooden has affected where I am today and been a huge part of who I am today,” Meyers Drysdale tells SUCCESS. “It didn’t matter who you were, Coach Wooden gave you his loyalty. That was his character. He would commit to the people that were there and not really change things up.”
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Former UCLA women’s basketball player and basketball Hall of Famer
ANN MEYERS DRYSDALE
“I never met him,” La Russa told UCLA after Coach Wooden’s passing. “Meeting him was on the bucket list. Came close a couple times, but never did meet him. Obviously, I’ve read everything about him, so just being selfish and personal, I have regret that I never had an in-person meeting with him. Amazing life.”
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Former St. Louis Cardinals general manager and co-author of One Last Strike
TONY
LA RUSSA
“Coach John Wooden has always been one of my role models. From observing his life and his coaching style, I learned that it is possible to be intensely competitive, to be a winner and a champion, and still be a person of integrity, humility, character and faith. No coach ever won more championships than Coach Wooden, and no one was ever more giving, caring and unassuming than Coach Wooden.” —Coach Wooden’s Greatest Secret by Pat Williams
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Senior vice president of the Orlando Magic and co-author of How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader
PAT WILLIAMS
“There’s no question that Coach Wooden’s words and lessons are going to stand the test of time—his words have already outlived him. And that’s a legacy. Just a few people will have the impact that Coach Wooden has had on not just the athletes who he was able to coach, but the coaches who are now in place.”
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Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and former professional baseball catcher
MIKE MATHENY
“Coach Wooden was humble," Crum told SUCCESS. "He had no ego. He always believed that you do by example and that if you set the right example, those who are following you will get in line and do it, too. I think his teams reflected that.”
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Former men’s basketball coach at the University of Louisville and assistant coach and basketball player at UCLA
DENNY CRUM
“Like the old adage, anything that has withstood the different decades must mean it’s pretty important and pretty solid," Izzo told SUCCESS. "I think you'll find a lot of what Coach Wooden did is pretty important and pretty solid. Sometimes the world gets so big, we say, ‘What is one guy? Can he make a difference?’ Nelson Mandela did. Muhammad Ali did. In my mind, John Wooden did.”
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Head coach of the Michigan State men’s basketball team and winner of the John R. Wooden award
TOM IZZO
“What Coach Wooden had done that so impressed me was to pull together his own vision, philosophy and belief system into a detailed plan for winning. Once he had it, he went on, year after year, to build teams that were almost unstoppable.” —Win Forever by Pete Carroll
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Head coach and executive vice president for the Seattle Seahawks and author of Win Forever
PETE CARROLL
“I learned so many lessons from Coach about how to be a coach, which then translated to how to be a better person and leader," Enquist tells SUCCESS. "I think one of the things I loved about what Coach Wooden taught me was the importance of having awareness about yourself and your impact on others.”
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Women’s Sports Foundation
Former UCLA women’s softball player and coach
SUE ENQUIST
“Everything Coach Wooden taught and did is what we all still look at today, 41 years later,” Boeheim tells SUCCESS. “There have been a lot of great coaches, but we never talk about other coaches—it always comes back to Coach Wooden. There’s a reason for that: He did things the way we would all like to do them. The basic core principles are really what people admire and look up to today, and it probably will be the same thing 40 years from now.”
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Head men’s basketball coach at Syracuse University and winner of the John R. Wooden Award
JIM BOEHEIM
“There has been no greater influence on college basketball than Coach Wooden—not just about the game, but the team,” Calhoun told SUCCESS. “In my opinion if he’s not as important as Dr. James Naismith [who invented the game of basketball], he’s right next to him.”
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Former head coach of the University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team and winner of the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Award
JIM CALHOUN
“What Coach Wooden’s definition of success did, it made you focus more on the journey, as opposed to the end result. And the journey always lasts much longer than the end result. The journey, the day-to-day grind, the daily grind that it takes to become a winner is what you focus on.”
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Head men’s basketball coach for the University of Washington and winner of the
Coach Wooden
“Keys to Life” Award
LORENZO ROMAR
“I don’t believe in the word or the concept of failure," Kondos Field tells SUCCESS. "I believe 100 percent in Coach Wooden’s definition of success: Success in life is peace of mind, and that peace of mind comes from knowing you’ve done your best.”
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Head women’s gymnastics coach at UCLA
VALORIE KONDOS FIELD
“I always bring it all back to the Pyramid. I mean for me, whenever I see something or I feel like I’ve learned something new, I can look at the Pyramid and I can draw a parallel to that. That for me kind of keeps you centered.”
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Head coach of Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball and recipient of the John R. Wooden Award for Player of the Year
DANNY MANNING
“Coach Wooden’s style of teaching and correction greatly influenced me as an NFL head coach. I learned quickly that when an athlete has a problem in his or her personal life or on the field, how you correct that athlete becomes important.” —The Greatest Coach Ever
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Former NFL player, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Professional Football Hall of Fame Inductee
TONY DUNGY
“The Pyramid of Success was important to me as a basketball player, one of Coach’s players, but then in life I’ve used it constantly, applying it to my own career as an actor," Bridges tells SUCCESS. "And I’ve passed it on to certainly all my children.”
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Emmy Award-winning actor and former UCLA basketball player
BEAU BRIDGES
“If I were speaking to a group of people that came to me and said, ‘Coach, who is the best mentor I can send my son to, to give him a chance to be a success in life?’ I’d say ‘You send him to John Wooden and see if he’ll accept you,’” Bowden told SUCCESS.
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Post/Zuma Wire
Former head football coach at Florida State University and College Football Hall of Fame inductee
BOBBY BOWDEN
“The team that the coach was most proud of was the team that didn’t win, but did the best they could, which was the sermon I was giving every time I was managing a team that had no chance to win the championship.”
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Former MLB player, color commentator, National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee and MLB chief baseball officer
JOE TORRE
“From the first time that I met him, I knew he would be my life’s most significant mentor," Brown told SUCCESS. "John Wooden is a legend in basketball, but more important, he is a legend in serving mankind. He was a master teacher and mentor.”
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Former head coach of the Louisiana State University men’s basketball team and National Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame inductee
DALE BROWN
“I never heard him talking about the Pyramid of Success in all the time I played for him and coached with him… but that was his philosophy. That’s the way he lived. Not until later in my life did I realize that all these things in the Pyramid, all the blocks, were things that he was teaching us over and over. But he never mentioned it.”
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Former head coach of UCLA men’s basketball and former UCLA men’s assistant basketball coach under Coach Wooden
GARY CUNNINGHAM
“But it wasn’t just [Wooden’s] wisdom as a coach that made him so remarkable. He was a man of dignity and integrity. When you looked at him, you saw those traits. The characteristics that are part of the greatest men and women on this planet—he made those come alive with his life.” —A Game Plan for Life by Don Yaeger
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Head coach of the Duke University men’s basketball team, coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team and College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
“I think what makes [Coach] so amazing is he has been so timeless. His principles have stood the test over every sport and every generation. I just think when something works, when it’s truth, then it lives on. That’s why so many of us coaches feel so much responsibility to continue that.” —“Carrying on John Wooden's legacy,” ESPN
Head coach of the University of California-Los Angeles women’s basketball team
CORI CLOSE
“He really defined a philosophy that I believe in, which is worrying about how you play the game. He would go through practices and he wouldn’t even talk about the other team, or what they were doing. He understood the perspective that you have to have if you’re not just a coach but a mentor, and that support group that players need. I think that crosses any line of different sports.” —“Angels' Scioscia recalls time with Wooden,” Pasadena Star-News
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Former MLB player and current manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
MIKE SCIOSCIA
“I had a wonderful upbringing. This is where my life was formed. I first became interested in basketball because my dad taught political science at UCLA during the John Wooden years, which was a great time to be a fan. I was a ball boy in the mid-’70s.” —“Kerr Relives His Palisades Hoop Days,” Palisadian-Post
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Former professional basketball player, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, earning a combined six NBA championships as a player and coach.
STEVE KERR
“Everybody knows about the wins and the national championships [Coach] won, the players he coached. But the man himself was as humble a man as you’ll ever meet. And to have the success that he had makes you want to be like him, you want to emulate him.” —“Tubby Smith Talks John Wooden Award Honor,” Big 12 Digital Network
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Head coach of the University of Memphis men’s basketball team and John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award recipient.
TUBBY SMITH
When John Wooden died in June 2010, lifelong basketball fan President Obama said in a White House statement recognizing the Coach’s impact, “On and off the court, he never stopped teaching. He never stopped preparing his players and everyone he met to be their best. Despite all the records and the championships, he once said that it wasn’t the tournaments or the games he missed the most, it was the practice and the preparation.”
44th President of the United States
BARACK OBAMA
As a former collegiate athlete, Kelly was influenced by Wooden’s heartfelt leadership principles and has led Southwest Airlines with a similar approach of winning his team’s hearts: Work hard, have fun and take care of each other. Writing for the World Economic Forum in collaboration with LinkedIn, Kelly extolled Wooden as an example of great leadership, saying, “You have to be not just willing, but eager, to work harder than anyone else—words from the great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden.”
Southwest Airlines chairman, president and CEO
GARY KELLY
Presenting John Wooden the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, President Bush said, “All his players will tell you, the most important man on their team was not on the court. He was the man who taught generations of basketball players the fundamentals of hard work and discipline, patience and teamwork. Coach Wooden remains a part of their lives as a teacher of the game, and as an example of what a good man should be.”
43rd President of the United States
GEORGE W. BUSH
When Ueberroth accepted the John Wooden Global Leadership Program award in 2011, he told the UCLA audience, “Wooden would explain something to you that is very complicated but he’d give you clarity, and you knew you were in the presence of a very special person.” The program is presented in partnership with the Wooden family, and one leader is honored each year.
Former MLB commissioner, Olympian
PETER UEBERROTH
“As a former college athlete, I enjoy reading sports-themed books, especially written by the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden,” Roberts told The New York Times. “I often think of one of his quotes: Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Good Morning America anchor, former host of ESPN’s Sportscenter and former college basketball player
ROBIN ROBERTS
Actor and director Tom Hanks found John Wooden’s teachings so transformative, he has explored a movie that would bring the coach’s story to live, the Wooden family tells SUCCESS.
Academy Award-winning actor, comedian and filmmaker
TOM HANKS
“I learned a lot from Wooden before I got to know him very well. “I used to go watch his practices when we weren’t practicing,” Scates told The Orange County Register. “[After Wooden retired], he was here every day. He would answer his own correspondence. He would bring his own stamps. He didn’t want to use the university’s stamps and his own envelopes and he would answer every fan letter that would come across his desk. He liked to talk about baseball. We just chatted. We became pretty good friends.”
Former UCLA volleyball player, former head coach of the University of California-Los Angeles men’s volleyball team and UCLA Hall of Fame inductee
AL SCATES
“I think that says it all about [Wooden]. Talk about a very simple approach, covering the basics from A to Z, but was not a control freak…. I’ve been very fortunate to cross paths with some very cool people. He’s at the very top.” —“Maddon recalls meeting with John Wooden,” Tampa Bay Times
Former head coach of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and current manager of the Chicago Cubs
JOE MADDON
Pat Summitt, who had the most career wins in NCAA history, used one of Wooden’s core philosophies with her players. “I picked up a saying from the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden: ‘I don’t treat them all the same, but I treat them fairly.’ I asked all our players to achieve the same standard, but I couldn’t ask all of them in the same way.” — Sum it Up by Pat Summitt
Former head coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team
PAT SUMMITT
Coach John Wooden praised Donahue’s commitment to the UCLA community and was quoted by UCLA Alumni saying: “I believe that a head coach, particularly at UCLA, should be judged by his or her peers within the university community at large as to whether the student-athletes with whom the coach was entrusted become not only excellent athletes but also, and more importantly, better students and better all-around individuals… There is no doubt in my mind that Terry Donahue deserves the recognition of having achieved that very ethereal form of success.”
Former UCLA head football coach
TERRY DONAHUE
In his farewell speech when he stepped down as New York Giants head coach, Tom Coughlin said: “You see these gentlemen here in the crowd that have played for this organization, they represent what I’m talking about. Not just winners on the field, but better yet winners in life, people you can be proud of. You’d like these people for your next-door neighbor. John Wooden said, ‘Reputation is what people think of you, character is who you really are.’ Character. We try to develop the character of each man who walked through these doors. Character is what endures.”
Former New York Giants head coach and author of Earn the Right to Win
TOM COUGHLIN
“Coach Wooden was great through the years in coaching and speaking, I spoke with him a few times after my first year in the pros and it’s amazing how much he knew about basketball,” he said to NewsOK.
Former UCLA basketball player and Oklahoma City Thunder player
RUSSELL WESTBROOK
“I’ve read his books, and I’ve been a fan of Coach for a long time,” Bryant told ESPN upon Wooden’s death in 2010. “His legacy is unmatched. It’s unreal. You talk to players that played for him, they all say he has made them better people, aside from basketball. Just them as people, he’s helped them be better. That’s the true testimony to his legacy.”
Former Los Angeles Laker and five-time NBA champion
KOBE BRYANT
“I have always admired John Wooden, not only for his success on the basketball court, but also for his success in creating a legacy of excellence and integrity,” Robinson wrote in the foreword of Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success. “John Wooden is remembered for his teaching ability. They didn’t call him ‘Coach’ for nothing. His Pyramid of Success has been the cornerstone of his teaching for many years.”
Former NBA player and two-time NBA champion
DAVID ROBINSON
“John Wooden was a rock star to me growing up,” Love wrote about meeting Wooden for the first time in The Players Tribune. “Coach didn’t want to talk about basketball, or about himself. Instead, he wanted to know about my character, my friends, my family, and what interested me outside of sports. Coach Wooden may have been in his later years, but he could still run circles around you with his wit and intellect.”
Former UCLA basketball player and Cleveland Cavaliers player
KEVIN LOVE
“I learned after I started playing for Coach Wooden that we never were concerned with whom our opponent was,” Warren told Indiana Basketball History Magazine. “He believed that if we prepared ourselves to the best of our ability, we’d win a lot more games than we’d lose. ‘Failure to prepare is preparing to fail’ was almost his daily mantra.”
Actor and former UCLA basketball player
MIKE WARREN
While NBA player Stephen Curry and John Wooden never crossed paths, the All-Star point guard has been the beneficiary of the UCLA Coach’s wisdom through Wooden devotees coach Steve Kerr and Bob Myers, the Golden State Warriors GM who built his team, with Curry among its stars, based on John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.
STEPHEN CURRY
On Wooden’s response to the challenges of recruiting top high school athletes: “ ‘Dick, if I can give you some advice, stop worrying about what [University of Southern California] is doing and focus on the players you have and doing the best you can do.’ [It was like] getting hit over the head with a sledge hammer.” —“Leadership Lessons from a Winner,” Independent Agent
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Former head coach of the University of California-Los Angeles football team, former NFL head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs
DICK VERMEIL
Leslie served as a guest coach for the first annual John Wooden Memorial Celebrity Game. Also, Leslie was honored at the John Wooden Pyramid of Success Awards. "[Coach] was an amazing man who changed the game of basketball, and it was an honor for me to be a part of it,” she told ESPN.
Photo credit: © Brian To/ Rex Shutterstock via Zuma Press
Former WNBA player and two-time WNBA champion
LISA LESLIE
Although Oz never had the opportunity to meet Coach Wooden, the former collegiate athlete tells SUCCESS he is an enthusiastic fan of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and often quotes the coach’s famous sayings to his family and employees.
Professor of surgery at Columbia University and host of The Dr. Oz Show
DR. MEHMET OZ
“My next guest profiles the extraordinary life and career of a fella, just remarkable in every way: former UCLA basketball coach, the legend John Wooden,” Dobbs said as he introduced Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach’s Life on Lou Dobbs Tonight in January 2014. “I’m partial to Coach Wooden, I got to know him over the years. [He was] the last Division I coach to actually teach a class in any sport. He was something.”
Photo credit: © Globe Photos/ZUMApress.com
Host of Lou Dobbs Tonight on Fox Business Network
LOU DOBBS
Coach said his most enjoyable moments while teaching were watching young players improve. One of the players he was greatly impressed with was Doug McIntosh. Even though McIntosh did not a have the same physical ability as others, Coach Wooden was impressed at his focus on fundamentals and efficiency.
Pastor and former UCLA basketball player
DOUG MCINTOSH
In “The Making of a Leader” weekend seminar, Jim Rohn gave listeners a checklist of things to look for in future team members. He described a leadership moment where Coach Wooden used on-the-spot results to find the right player for a certain position. “You know, the great coach John Wooden I’m sure said to the supposedly skilled young basketball player, he says, ‘Sir, can you hit it from the corner? I got to have me a corner man who can hit it from the corner.’ And, well, how are we gonna know if you can hit it from the corner? John says, ‘Well, I’ll just stand here and you just fire away and I’ll count.’ That’s how you finally tell. Just launch a few, and I’ll just, I’ll just keep score here, cause I’ve got to have somebody who can hit it from the corner.”
Late motivational speaker and author
JIM ROHN
"[Coach Wooden] said pressure is a great thing because one, it means you are there and in the mix. And two, he said, 'embrace it,' so as a young coach I always have kind of taken that approach," she told Philly.com.
Head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, former head women’s soccer coach for the UCLA Bruins
JILL ELLIS