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99 candles, 99 facts about John Wooden

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1) He was born in Hall, Ind., on Oct. 14, 1910.

2) Wooden led Martinsville High to the Indiana state title in 1927.

3) One of his role models was Fuzzy Vandivier of the Franklin Wonder Five, a basketball team that dominated Indiana high school basketball from 1919 to 1922.

4) He was a three-time high school all-state selection.

5) Wooden met his future wife, Nell Riley, at a carnival in July 1926.

6) They married in August 1932. Afterward, they attended a Mills Brothers concert to celebrate.

7) Wooden and Nell were married 53 years before Nell's death in 1985.

8) Wooden enrolled at Purdue, where he won varsity letters in basketball and baseball his freshman year .

9) He was a three-time consensus All-American in 1930-32.

10) Wooden led the Boilermakers to two Big Ten titles and the 1932 national championship.

11) While playing basketball at Purdue, Wooden was nicknamed "the Indiana Rubber Man" for his dives on the hardcourt.

12) Wooden is noted for his quotes about life and sportsmanship, such as: "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

13) After college, he spent several years playing professionally.

14) During one 46-game stretch, he made 134 consecutive free throws.

15) His first coaching job was at Dayton High in Kentucky.

16) In his first year, the team was 6-11, his only losing record as a coach.

17) Wooden coached basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend Central High in Indiana. His 11-year high school coaching record was 218-42.

18) World War II interrupted his coaching career and he was a lieutenant in the Navy from 1943 to 1946.

19) 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.

20) At Indiana State, Wooden completed his master's degree in education.

21) "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow."

22) In 1947, Wooden's basketball team received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players.

23) In 1948, the NAIB changed its policy and Wooden led Indiana State to another conference title.

24) That same year, Wooden guided his team to the NAIB final, losing to Louisville — the only loss by a Wooden team in a college championship game.

25) Wooden was inducted into the Indiana State Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, 1984.

26) His top salary while coach at UCLA was $35,000.

27) Wooden turned down an offer to coach the Lakers from owner Jack Kent Cooke that may have been 10 times what UCLA was paying him.

28) The record Wooden is the most proud of — his Bruins teams won 19 conference championships.

29) Wooden was awarded the 1932 Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics.

30) He was the first person inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (1973).

31) "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."

32) Wooden disliked the nickname the "Wizard of Westwood."

33) At UCLA he won 664 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles.

34) Wooden's UCLA teams won seven consecutive NCAA championships from 1967 to 1973.

35) His UCLA teams had a record winning streak of 88 games and four 30-0 seasons.

36) His Bruins won 38 straight NCAA tournament games and a record 98 straight home games at Pauley Pavilion.

37) In 1967, he was named the Henry Iba Award USBWA college basketball coach of the year.

38) In 1972, he was honored as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

39) Wooden coached his final game at Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, a 93-59 victory over Stanford.

40) Four weeks later, he announced his retirement before his 10th national championship game victory over Kentucky.

41) "Young people need models, not critics."

42) UCLA was Wooden's second choice for a coaching position in 1948. He had also been pursued by Minnesota.

43) Inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the offer from the Golden Gophers. Wooden accepted UCLA's offer instead.

44) Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined because he had given his word to the Bruins.

45) Purdue wanted Wooden to serve as coach Mel Taube's assistant until Taube's contract expired. Wooden declined, citing his loyalty to Taube.

46) At UCLA, Wooden had four undefeated teams. No other coach has more than one.

47) He had seven teams that were undefeated in conference play.

48) He won five titles without Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

49) He coached 15 seasons at UCLA before winning his first NCAA championship.

50) His winning percentage in college and high school was .813.

51) "Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."

52) Wooden won his first national title in 1964.

53) In 1965, the Bruins won their second straight NCAA championship.

54) In the 1965 final, Gail Goodrich scored 42 points for UCLA as the Bruins defeated Michigan and Cazzie Russell.

55) In 1965-66, UCLA failed to win the NCAA title, the last time that happened until 1974.

56) The 1966-67 season marked the beginning of the Lew Alcindor era, and UCLA easily defeated Dayton in the final.

57) Wooden's Bruins had a 47-game winning streak broken on Jan. 20, 1968, a 71-69 loss to Houston in front of 52,693 people at the Astrodome.

58) The same teams met again in an NCAA semifinal, where the Bruins routed the Cougars, 101-69.

59) UCLA defeated North Carolina in 1968 to become the only team to win consecutive titles twice.

60) Wooden has called that team as good as any he coached.

61) "Ability is a poor man's wealth."

62) In 1969, UCLA became the only men's basketball program to win three consecutive NCAA titles.

63) In the final, Wooden faced Purdue, his alma mater, and won, 92-72.

64) With that 1969 championship, Wooden became the first coach to win five NCAA titles.

65) In 1970, Wooden won his fourth consecutive NCAA title.

66) In the final, 6-foot-8 Sidney Wicks outplayed 7-footer Artis Gilmore of Jacksonville.

67) In 1971, Wooden won his fifth NCAA championship in a row; the Bruins defeated Villanova in the final.

68) The Bill Walton era began in the 1971-72 season, and the Bruins won a sixth consecutive championship.

69) In 1973, Wooden won his seventh consecutive title with a victory over Memphis State.

70) UCLA's record 88-game winning streak started on Jan. 30, 1971, with a 74-61 victory over UC Santa Barbara.

71) The streak ended when Notre Dame upset UCLA, 71-70, on Jan. 19, 1974.

72) Notre Dame also handed UCLA the loss before the streak started, 89-82, on Jan. 23, 1971.

73) The Bruins' record streak included two one-point victories: 69-68 at Oregon and 65-64 at home against Maryland.

74) Wooden won his last title in 1975.

75) In Wooden's last game as UCLA coach, the Bruins defeated Kentucky, 92-85, on March 31, 1975.

76) Wooden spent 40 years as a basketball coach.

77) He coached 27 years at UCLA, finishing with a record of 620-147.

78) Wooden's teams were 149-2 at Pauley Pavilion.

79) Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" has become an organizational and inspirational tool.

80) The foundation for Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" is Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation and Enthusiasm.

81) The peak is Competitive Greatness.

82) "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

83) Since 1977, the most prestigious postseason award in college basketball has been the John R. Wooden Award.

84) Two annual men's basketball events are named after Wooden — the Wooden Classic and the Wooden Tradition.

85) In 1999, ESPN elected Wooden the "Coach of the 20th Century."

86) The recreation center for intramural sports on the UCLA campus is named after Wooden.

87) A school in Reseda is named John R. Wooden High.

88) In 2003, UCLA named the basketball court at Pauley Pavilion the "Nell and John Wooden Court," keeping Nell's name first.

89) Wooden had his own website, http://www.coachwooden.com.

90) In 2007, UCLA announced it plans to renovate Pauley Pavilion, setting a goal of opening the renovated facility on what would have been Wooden's 100th birthday.

91) "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

92) On July 23, 2003, Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

93) Wooden believed women's basketball featured more fundamentally sound basketball than the men's version.

94) Wooden wrote several books, including a book for children, "Inch and Miles."

95) His last book was released on his 99th birthday, "A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring With John Wooden."

96) On Wooden's 96th birthday, a post office in Reseda was named the John Wooden Post Office.

97) Wooden retained the title head men's basketball coach emeritus at UCLA after he retired in 1975.

98) Wooden was a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

99) "Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you."

This article by Mike Penner was originally published on Oct. 14, 2009, John Wooden's 99th birthday.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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