John Wooden, RIP

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Judged by results, John Wooden would have to be considered the greatest college basketball coach of all time.  His UCLA teams won 10 NCAA national championships, as well as a record 88 consecutive victories.  A season that stands out in his career was one year in which his team was picked to be national champions.  The team played a UCLA freshman squad and were beaten, leading many to comment that he had the best team in the country, but only the second best team on campus.

More than just the outstanding won-lost record, Wooden was better known — among his players in particular — as a coach more interested in the character development of his players.  In this regard, Wooden was to college basketball what Nebraska’s Tom Osborne was to college football: they both understood that “how you play the game” was more important than points on a scoreboard.

Wooden died this evening at the age of 99, leaving many UCLA fans, as well as  non-UCLA fans — such as myself — who appreciate people who perform their work with class.

9:06 pm on June 4, 2010