They Call It The Wooden Effect
The far-reaching effect that John Wooden had on so many athletes, coaches, entertainers and leaders is an interesting look at the six degrees of separation that connect us all.
Just like the connections we have in common on LinkedIn or the irreverent game “Six Degrees of Separation,” the late UCLA coach John Wooden has impacted so many people from all walks of life, that you don’t have to look very far to find an athlete or coach, sportscaster or CEO, who considers Coach John Wooden one of their greatest influences.
Start with Bill Walton, the sports broadcaster and former NBA All-Star who played for Coach Wooden at UCLA.
Walton credits his life’s success (not just basketball) to Wooden, whom he calls the single greatest mentor in his life. After Walton graduated UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in History, no doubt at the urging of Wooden who stressed the importance of academics and graduation to his student athletes, Walton enjoyed a successful 14-year All-Star career for Portland, Boston and San Diego as a two-time NBA champion.
At Walton’s home in San Diego, he has “a shrine to UCLA and John Wooden, with memorabilia, the pyramid and pictures of John Wooden everywhere,” Walton says. He talked to his kids about the Pyramid of Success and together they would often visit Coach at home, where Wooden taught the kids to put on their socks and shoes the proper way, the same lesson Bill learned as a student. “My kids have lived this story of John Wooden and UCLA their whole lives,” Walton says.
The Wooden Effect was passed down a generation to Walton’s son Luke, who enjoyed a successful basketball career, having played 10 years for L.A. and Cleveland. Luke Walton began assistant coaching under the leadership of head coach Steve Kerr, who earned a combined six NBA championships as a player and coach. Kerr, too, is a big fan of John Wooden, having grown up in the shadow of UCLA. His father taught political science at UCLA during the Wooden years and young Kerr was a ball boy for the Bruins team in the mid-1970’s.
Another Wooden devotee in the Warriors management is General Manager Bob Myers, who played for the 1995 championship UCLA Bruins team and is an enthusiastic fan of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Myers credits his success to Wooden and keeps famous John Wooden quotes in his phone as a visual reminder.
Considered individually, the success of Bill Walton, Luke Walton, Steve Kerr and Bob Myers is a testament to Coach Wooden’s influence. But considered together, these men’s accomplishments comprise what many have called “The Wooden Effect,” the true legacy of John Wooden’s greatness. Learn more about The Wooden Effect in a free online broadcast event. Click on the images below to read how Wooden influenced each of these champions from all walks of life.