The Wizard of Westwood

I hope you enjoy the guest post today by our friend, Ronald Rodriguez, from over at After you finish reading this post feel free to go poke around his blog.


John Wooden is referred to as the Wizard of Westwood and is most commonly known as coach to many for being a teacher and mentor in so many ways. First and foremost, let’s get to know how his journey as a coach.

It all started in his playing career at Purdue University, where Wooden was an All-American basketball player for three consecutive years (1930-1932) and won a Big Ten Western Conference medal for athletic and scholastic excellence.

Wooden would start coaching high school basketball in Kentucky and in Indiana thereafter, before he entered the United States Navy in 1943. Through World War II, he served as a physical education instructor. Following WWII, he was the head basketball coach and athletic director at the then Indiana State Teacher’s College now known as Indiana State University from 1946 to 1948.

Wooden was appointed as head coach of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he achieved average success over the first fourteen seasons. However, with his foundation of success implemented, UCLA went on to win 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships over a span of twelve years (1964-65, 1967-73, and 1975).

Numerous UCLA basketball athletes, which played under Coach Wooden, became basketball stars playing professionally for various franchises in the National Basketball Association – most notably, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Gail Goodrich.

When Coach Wooden retired in 1975, his record at UCLA was 620 wins and 147 losses, which garners a .808 winning percentage. Through his whole forty year coaching career, he gained a record of 885 wins and 203 losses, which gives him a winning percentage of .813. Some of Wooden’s most notable achievements were set at UCLA, where his teams set two record setting winning streaks. The first was 88 victories over a four year span, and a 38 consecutive wins in the NCAA tournament.

Through Coach Wooden’s coaching career, he was named the NCAA’s College Basketball   Coach of the Year on six separate occasions (1964, 1967, 1969-70, 1972-1973). He was the first person to be elected, both as a player and as a coach, to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Since then, he has an award named after him, The John R Wooden Award that is gives recognition to the nation’s most outstanding player based on a media poll.

Coach Wooden has written two books based on the lessons he learned though his coaching career. The first is titled Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and off the Court (1997). His second book is titled Wooden on Leadership (2005).

I have a goal to one day have something in common with Coach Wooden, but it is not related to his coaching success. Rather, it is his passion and love for a particular book. John Wooden once declared that “everyone should drink deeply from great books; especially the Bible,” he has added that “I have always read the Bible…It was a habit I enjoyed very much. I don’t say that with any degree of pride. It was a habit of love, not one of requirement or drudgery. It wasn’t just something to do, it was never a chore, and I enjoyed it.

Think about it. Despite his run of multiple NCAA championships, fame, recognition, and respect from numerous talented and respected individuals, in their own right, he declares that the Bible is the most important thing in his life. Not because its required or out of calamity, but simply out of his love for the Bible, and I am sure, more importantly, for the one he loves the most – Jesus.

Those that looked up to him and called him Coach defiantly saw the true test of love exalted through Coach Wooden:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Do you get the same enjoyment from reading the Bible daily as Coach Wooden? And do you exemplify the Bible’s definition of love?

Your answers are a private matter between you and God, but that doesn’t mean to simply forget about it. No matter where you are in your walk, it’s always a good fight to grow and mature. I challenge you, and myself, to fight the good fight in falling in love with Him even deeply.


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