John Wooden: A Coaching Legend
UCLA's basketball program has the international reputation of being No. 1. There is a major reason for that -- his name was John Robert Wooden, who announced his retirement after the 1974-75 season (his 27th campaign) as the Bruins' head coach with the winningest record in all of the sport's history. Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday on Oct. 14, 2009. He passed away on June 4, 2010 (6:45 pm PT) from natural causes at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Wooden concluded his 40 years as a head coach that season and his 885-203 overall career win-loss record (a percentage of .813) is unequaled. A large part of that success was at UCLA. In 27 years as Bruin coach, his teams registered 620 wins, and only 147 losses while earning far more national honors than any other university.
Under Wooden, UCLA won an unprecedented 10 NCAA championships, including seven consecutive (1966-73). Included in the string is one of the most amazing win streaks in all of sports, 38 straight NCAA tournament victories.
In addition, there is the all-time NCAA consecutive winning-streak record of 88 games over four seasons, which included consecutive 30-0 seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73. UCLA also won 149 of 151 games in Pauley Pavilion during his Bruin tenure.
John Wooden was the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his Bruin teams captured 19 conference championships (the record of which Wooden is most proud).
Wooden was the first person to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. He was also a charter member of the NABC National Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pac-10 Basketball Hall of Honor and the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
In 2003, President George W. Bush presented Wooden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to a civilian.
Complimenting the honors listed elsewhere in his biography, Wooden also has received two others he was especially proud of: being named the 1969 "Outstanding Basketball Coach of the U.S." by his denomination, the Christian Church, for his services to collegiate basketball and the community. The other is having his hometown of Martinsville, Indiana, naming a street after him and at the same time serving as the 1969 King of the famed Morgan County Fall Foliage Festival and Grand Marshal of the Festival Parade. Their high school gymnasium also bears his name.
Born in Hall, IN on Oct. 14, 1910, Wooden attended high school in Martinsville and won all-state prep honors in basketball three consecutive years, leading Martinsville High to the Indiana State title in 1927 and runner-up in 1926 and 1928.
At Purdue University, he won letters in basketball and baseball his freshman year and later earned All-American honors as a guard on the basketball team from 1930-32. He captained Purdue's basketball teams of 1931 and 1932 and led the Boilermakers to two Big Ten titles and the 1932 national championship.
Wooden's name was inscribed on Purdue's academic honor roll and he was awarded the 1932 Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics.
Shortly after graduating from Purdue in 1932, he married his charming wife, Nell. He than began his teaching career at Dayton High School in Kentucky where he coached numerous sports. After two years, he returned to the state of Indiana where he coached basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend Central High School and taught English for nine years. His impressive 11-year prep coaching record was 218-42.
World War II interrupted his coaching career as he served as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. Following his discharge in 1946, he went to Indiana Teachers College (now Indiana State University) as athletic director, basketball and baseball coach for two seasons prior to moving to UCLA.
Wooden and his wife, Nell, who died in Los Angeles on March 21, 1985, were married for 53 years. Parents of a son, James Hugh, and a daughter, Nancy Anne, Coach Wooden had seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
On Dec. 20, 2003, the basketball floor in Pauley Pavilion was dedicated "Nell and John Wooden Court."
Wooden coached two seasons at Dayton, KY, High School and nine seasons at South Bend, IN, Central High School. He coached two seasons at Indiana State, in Terre Haute, IN before coming to UCLA.
John Wooden Year-by-Year at UCLA
Coach Wooden's Accolades
CLick for Bruin Video