Fmr. UCLA Coach John Wooden a Man of Faith

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Former University of California, Los Angeles basketball coach and hall of famer John Wooden passed away at the age of 99 in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Wooden has long been considered the most successful coach in the history of college basketball.

As a player at Purdue University in the early 1930s, Wooden was a three-year all-American, and the college basketball player of the year. But he was an even better coach. From 1948 to 1975, Wooden was head coach of the men's basketball team at UCLA. Among his accomplishments were ten national championships in 12 years, seven of those in a row, a record 88 straight wins, and in four seasons his team had 30 victories - without a single loss.

Perhaps no one in sports earned more respect from players, peers, and fans, than Coach Wooden.

"I'm proud that a lot of my friends and coaches in past years have said, 'Johnny's no different since winning a lot of championships than he was before he won any,' and I like that and I hope that," he said. "Never think you're better than somedody else, always hold your head up and think your just as good but never think you're better. Learn from others, you'll never know a thing that you didn't learn from somebody else, and never cease trying to be the best you can be."

Wooden did not consider himself a tough coach to play for.

"I don't think so…I never disciplined in a physical way, physical punishment I think antagonizes and I think its difficult to get productive positive results when you antagonize," he said during a 2004 interview. "I had three rules throughout my teaching career, one was you never criticize a teammate, that's my job. Another one, not one word of profanity or your out of here for the day. And then the third one is to always be on time."

And Wooden always felt that leading practice was the most important part of his job.

"Oh I enjoyed practicing, that's where you do the teaching," he added. "I used to say that…when it come game time, I think I'd like to go up in the stands and watch and see if my players had learned anything during the week and if they hadn't of course that's my fault because I was their teacher. There's little to do once the game starts if you've done your job properly during the week."

When it came to the Scriptures, Wooden's favorite was 1 Corinthians 13.

"Well it's the love chapter," he said. "I think love is the most important word in our language, like I told my players at the beginning every year, 'Now I won't like you all the same, you won't like me all the same , you won't like each other all the same. And remember I'm imperfect, and I'll be wrong sometimes. But if I'm wrong too much, I won't be around, they'll be someone else in my place. And I won't like you all the same, but I hope I love you all the same.'"

"Don't look back," Wooden said as he began reciting a poem he wrote. "The years have left their imprint on my hands and on my face, erect no longer is my walk and scored is my face, but there is no fear within my heart because I am growing old. I only wish I had more time to better serve my Lord. When I've gone to him in prayer he has brought me inner peace. And soon my cares and worries and other problems cease. He's helped me in so many ways he has never let me down, why should I fear the future when soon I could be near his crown. Though I know down here my time is short, there is endless time up there, and he will forgive and keep me ever in his loving care."

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Andrew Knox

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