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UCLA Names Basketball Court For Nell And John Wooden

Dec 20, 2003

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA honored John Wooden and his late wife Nell by naming the Bruins' basketball court for them Saturday, 28 years after Wooden retired from coaching with a record 10 national titles.

Wooden, 93, coached the Bruins from 1948-75. During that time, UCLA won seven straight national championships, an NCAA record 88-game winning streak, and four 30-0 seasons.

"I'm glad that they did this in a timely way because we take it for granted that he's going to be around forever," said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, known as Lew Alcindor when he starred for UCLA in the late 1960s. "He can enjoy it and we can enjoy him and the day."

More than 70 of Wooden's former players - many with gray hair and heavier than their playing days - were on hand. They included Bill Walton, Mike Warren, Rafer Johnson, Walt Hazzard, Marques Johnson, Gary Cunningham, Lynn Shackelford, Sidney Wicks, current Southern California coach Henry Bibby, and Jamaal Wilkes.

"I know what made this day possible, it's those young men down there," Wooden said, turning to look at his former players seated off-court. "I'm extremely proud of all of them. Many never had the opportunity to play in Pauley Pavilion."

Wooden stalked Pauley's sideline holding his ever-present rolled up program during the final 10 years of his career.

"I'm proud of the fact that this floor is being named for my late Nellie and me," he said.

Seven of Wooden's 12 great-grandchildren helped pull two pieces of blue velvet away to reveal the words 'Nell and John Wooden Court' in blue on the floor of Pauley Pavilion. Wooden's 12th great-grandchild was born Saturday.

Abdul-Jabbar recalled Nell Wooden as a woman of few words.

"She was like everybody's aunt," he said. "It was always about a smile. We won so often, there wasn't much occasion to be sad."

Clutching his cane, Wooden was helped to center court by his two children, James and Nancy. Nell Wooden died in 1985 after 53 years of marriage.

"I am thankful to see so many of you here today," Wooden said. "I hope to see you every game. And I hope you'll all really back our team with a lot of enthusiasm. But at the same time, let's be gracious to our opponents, too."

Wooden made his way to his usual seat in the stands a few rows behind UCLA's bench to watch the Bruins play Michigan State. Wooden remains in relatively good health with a sharp mind that can recall details from games and events that occurred decades ago.

Abdul-Jabbar said Wooden downplayed being in the spotlight during a pregame luncheon with his former players.

"He sees himself as a little gear, but he's the master wheel," he said.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of UCLA's first title under Wooden, the Bruins wore replica jerseys similar to those used in the 1963-64 season. However, their shorts were baggy, unlike the short, tight shorts worn in Wooden's era.

He is the first person to be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. The Martinsville, Ind., native played guard on Purdue's 1932 national championship team.

Since Wooden's retirement, the Bruins have won just one NCAA title in 1995.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Friday, Oct 30
vs. Cal State Los ...
Los Angeles, CA
W, 95 - 57
Friday, Nov 13
vs. Monmouth
Los Angeles, CA
L, 81 - 84 (OT)
Sunday, Nov 15
vs. Cal Poly
Los Angeles, CA
W, 88 - 83
Thursday, Nov 19
vs. Pepperdine
Los Angeles, CA
W, 81 - 67
Monday, Nov 23
vs. UNLV
Lahaina, HI
W, 77 - 75
Tuesday, Nov 24
vs. Kansas
Lahaina, HI
L, 73 - 92
Wednesday, Nov 25
vs. Wake Forest
Lahaina, HI
L, 77 - 80
Sunday, Nov 29
vs. CSUN
Los Angeles, CA
W, 77 - 45
Thursday, Dec 03 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Kentucky
Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, Dec 06 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Long Beach State
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 12 - 7:00 PM PST
at Gonzaga
Spokane, WA
Tuesday, Dec 15 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Dec 19 - 10:00 AM PST
vs. North Carolina
Brooklyn, NY
Tuesday, Dec 22 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. McNeese State
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Jan 01 - 8:00 PM PST
at Washington
Seattle, WA
Sunday, Jan 03 - 6:30 PM PST
at Washington State
Pullman, WA
Thursday, Jan 07 - 6:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 09 - 2:00 PM PST
vs. Arizona State
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 13 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. USC
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, Jan 20 - 8:00 PM PST
at Oregon State
Corvallis, OR
Saturday, Jan 23 - 1:00 PM PST
at Oregon
Eugene, OR
Thursday, Jan 28 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Washington
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Jan 30 - 4:00 PM PST
vs. Washington State
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Feb 04 - 7:30 PM PST
at USC
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, Feb 12 - 6:00 PM PST
at Arizona
Tucson, AZ
Sunday, Feb 14 - 5:30 PM PST
at Arizona State
Tempe, AZ
Thursday, Feb 18 - 7:00 PM PST
vs. Utah
Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Feb 20 - 8:00 PM PST
vs. Colorado
Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, Feb 25 - 6:00 PM PST
at California
Berkeley, CA
Saturday, Feb 27 - 1:30 PM PST
at Stanford
Stanford, CA