John Robert Wooden (born October 14 1910) is a retired American basketball coach. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. His 10 NCAA National Championships in 12 years while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach.
After college, Wooden spent several years playing professionally with the Indianapolis Kautskys (later the Indianapolis Jets), Whiting Ciesar All-Americans, and Hammond Ciesar All-Americans while teaching and coaching in the high school ranks. During one 46 game stretch he made 134 consecutive free throws. He was named to the NBL's First Team for the 1937-38 season. In 1942 he enlisted in the Navy where he gained the rank of lieutenant during World War II.
UCLA had actually been Wooden's second choice for a coaching position in 1948. He had also been pursued for the head coaching position at the University of Minnesota, and it was his and wife's desire to remain in the Midwest. But inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking they had lost interest, Wooden accepted the head coaching job with the Bruins instead. Officials from the University of Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined their offer because he had given his word to the Bruins.
|Year||Record||Final Opponent||Final Score||Notes|
|1964||30-0||Duke||98-83||John Wooden gets his first national title in his sixteenth season at UCLA. Walt Hazzard stars for UCLA as the Bruins easily defeat Duke and their All-American Jeff Mullins.|
|1965||28-2||Michigan||91-80||UCLA becomes one of the few schools to win two in a row. All-American Gail Goodrich scores 42 points for the Bruins as they upend Michigan and Cazzie Russell.|
|1967||30-0||Dayton||79-64||The start of the Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) era. Unranked Dayton and Don May are no match for UCLA in title game.|
|1968||29-1||North Carolina||78-55||UCLA's 47 game winning streak came to an end in January when the Bruins were beaten by Houston and their All-American Elvin Hayes in the Astrodome 71-69. In a rematch in the NCAA semi-finals, UCLA won 101-69. The UCLA Bruins become the only team to win consecutive NCAA championships twice.|
|1969||29-1||Purdue||92-72||UCLA becomes the only school to win three NCAA Basketball Championships in a row. Rick Mount of Purdue (Wooden's alma mater) is no match for Lew Alcindor as he takes a triple crown. Wooden becomes the first coach to win 5 NCAA championships.|
|1970||28-2||Jacksonville||80-69||Even with the graduation of Alcindor (Abdul-Jabbar), UCLA wins again; its fourth in a row. Sidney Wicks outshines Artis Gilmore in title game.|
|1971||29-1||Villanova||68-62||Five in a row. Villanova hangs tough in title game, but is later disqualified when it is learned that Howard Porter had signed a pro contract.|
|1972||30-0||Florida State||81-76||The start of the Bill Walton era. UCLA wins its sixth in a row. The Bruins have a rough time with Florida State and their great ball handler, Otto Petty.|
|1973||30-0||Memphis State||87-66||Seven in a row. Only team in history with back-to-back undefeated seasons. Bill Walton hits 21 of 22 field goal attempts and scores 44 points in one of the greatest offensive performances in the history of the NCAA tournament.|
|1975||28-3||Kentucky||92-85||Wooden ends his 27-year UCLA coaching career with one final NCAA title. Coach Wooden announces his retirement during the post-game press conference of the semi-final game, and the UCLA players give him a going away present with a win over Kentucky and their captain, Jimmy Dan Conner.|
UCLA celebrates John Wooden Day every February 29.
The 95,000 square foot John Wooden recreation center on the UCLA campus for student intramural athletics is named after legendary basketball coach John Wooden. The facility also serves as an alternate training facility for UCLA's intercollegiate gymnastics and volleyball teams.
In 2003, UCLA dedicated the basketball court in Pauley Pavilion in honor of John and Nell Wooden. Wooden also has the gym at Martinsville High School and the student recreation center at UCLA named in his honor. Named the "Nell & John Wooden Court," Wooden asked for the change from the original proposal of the "John & Nell Wooden Court," insisting that his wife's name should come first. In January 2007, UCLA announced that it was in the planning stages of renovating Pauley Pavilion, with the goal of opening the renovated facility on Wooden's 100th birthday, October 14, 2010.
On July 23, 2003, John Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. It was presented by George W. Bush after a three year campaign by Andre McCarter, who was on Wooden's 1975 National Championship team.
December 18, 2005, Congressman Brad Sherman introduced a legislation that would rename a San Fernando Valley post office in honor of Wooden. The post office near Wooden's long-time home in Encino had already been named in 2002 for Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn. However, Coach Wooden's daughter, Nancy Muehlhausen, lives in nearby Reseda. On August 17, 2006, it was announced that President George W. Bush had signed the legislation enacting Sherman's proposal into law. The post office at 7320 Reseda Boulevard was named the Coach John Wooden Post Office on October 14, 2006 - Wooden's 96th birthday.
To this day, Wooden retains the title Head Men's Basketball Coach Emeritus at UCLA, and attends most home games.
On November 17, 2006, Wooden was recognized for his impact on college basketball as a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was one of five, along with Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Dean Smith and Dr. James Naismith, selected to represent the inaugural class.
On May 20, 2008, Wooden was honored with a commemorative bronze plaque in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Memorial Court of Honor. His UCLA basketball team played six seasons in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Four coaches left UCLA in the nine years following Wooden.
One former UCLA head coach, ESPN analyst Steve Lavin (fired from UCLA in 2003), has called this post-Wooden phenomenon a "pathology," and believes that every basketball coach will eventually be fired or forced out from UCLA.
UCLA went 20 years after Wooden's retirement before winning another national basketball championship, finally hanging a banner again in 1995 under coach Jim Harrick. Harrick was terminated by UCLA for an NCAA violation 18 months later.
In 2006, Ben Howland led the team back to the national championship game for the first time since the 1995 title game. On April 3rd, 2006, Wooden spent three days in a Los Angeles hospital receiving treatment for diverticulitis. He was hospitalized again in 2007 for bleeding in the colon. He was released to go home on April 14th and his daughter was quoted as saying her father was "doing well".
Wooden was hospitalized on March 1, 2008 after a spill in his home caused him to fall. Wooden broke his left wrist and his collarbone in the fall, but remains in good condition according to his daughter.
Wooden also has authored a lecture and a book about the Pyramid of Success. The Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. He is also the author of several other books about basketball and life.