One day last month Al Scates, the UCLA volleyball coach, was sitting in his den rhapsodizing about a favorite subject: his national championship rings. "I rotate them depending on how I feel," said Scates, 71. From a drawer in his cluttered desk -- a Coltrane CD, photos of a golf trip to Scotland -- he pulled out a pair. "This one, the 2000, is a little big, so it's good for flying, when my finger swells." He strolled to his bookcase, where rings lined up on a shelf, a glittering history of his 50 years as the Bruins' coach. "Look at '72," he said, plucking it from a velvet case. "It's so small now, it makes a nice pinkie ring."
At the start of Jim Boeheim's postgame news conference after Syracuse's victory over Kansas State last Saturday, the moderator informed the media that the win had moved Boeheim into a tie with John Wooden on the alltime NCAA tournament wins list. Boeheim flashed a bemused smirk and remarked that Wooden did in 10 seasons what he's done in 29.
Walt Hazzard, the dazzling point guard who led UCLA to its first NCAA basketball title and starred in high school, the NBA and the Olympics, died after a long illness, according to the UCLA Bruins' website.
I'm frequently mocked for my AOL e-mail address, which calls me out as old and out of touch, the kind of person who rides the information superhighway at five miles an hour with his turn signal flashing. I'd change lanes to let you pass but -- as my e-mail address confirms -- I'm terrified of change.
Penske Racing's superlative record of 15 victories in the Indianapolis 500 seems unassailable, like John Wooden's 10 NCAA Division I basketball championships. Just as it was with Wooden, it has been a dynasty built with the leadership and vision of one man, Roger Penske, who has surrounded himself with great talent.
The game wasn't competitive. Coronations rarely are. UConn won its 89th consecutive game on Tuesday night, a 93-62 win over Florida State that morphed from basketball game into a blue and white pep rally in the second half.
Before the back-to-back national championships, before the comparisons to the UCLA men's basketball teams, and long before the gender debate over how to view a college basketball winning streak, there was MaChelle Joseph and her scrappy young team from Georgia Tech.
In October 2009, the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors approved recommendations for a set of new rules governing recruiting in men's basketball. As part of those reforms, the board made clear that if a coach or school violated them, the board would "[e]ndorse and strongly encourage the use of suspensions of a head men's basketball and/or assistant men's basketball coach by the enforcement staff, in the case of secondary infractions, or the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, in the case of secondary or major infractions, from coaching in NCAA tournament games or regular season games."
Getting the Sportsperson of the Year in 1972 was so personal for me because of Title IX. That's what it meant for me, that times-were-a-changing, as Dylan sang in those times. Sports are a microcosm of society, so it was huge. I'm not sure SI even thought about it, but, boy, I sure did.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- When Harrison Barnes arrived here last week at Chris Paul's Elite Guard Camp, the 18-year-old from Ames, Iowa, was just three days away from the start of college life at North Carolina. His mother, Shirley, was driving out from Iowa with all of his belongings, picking him up from camp on Sunday at 1 p.m., and taking him to Chapel Hill. He already had that day planned out: move in to his dorm, meet with an academic advisor, attend a UNC basketball camp, play pickup ball at night. His two classes for the summer-school session that began Thursday are Economics 101 and Public Speaking, early credits toward his planned major in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance.
TARZANA, Calif. -- Vip's restaurant was bustling with customers as usual on Sunday morning, but one booth sat conspicuously empty. Tucked into the corner, second from the end, it served as a mini-shrine to the man who occupied it almost every morning for nearly 20 years. A vase of yellow roses sat on the table, surrounded by envelopes that had been placed by well-wishers. A book of remembrances lay open so people could write in it. Next to the book stood a framed photograph of the honored occupant. In the picture the man is wearing a coat and tie, he is sitting with his legs crossed, and he is holding a basketball. The picture is signed, "Best wishes, John Wooden, UCLA."
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- It's fall here at the bottom of Africa, which gives the region a bit more of a football feel. And futbol too, of course. But before I get to the business of covering the World Cup later this week -- hopefully I'll find some good coffee by then -- I have a few NFL thoughts, plus a couple of book ideas for your Father's Day gift-giving.
I can't be sure that John Wooden was reciting poetry at the moment he drew his last breath on June 4, 2010 at the age of 99, but I have good reason to believe he was. In September 2006, when I visited Wooden at his modest apartment in Encino, Calif., he told me that he liked to recite poetry to help him fall asleep. He had a rotation of maybe a half-dozen ditties, including a couple that he had written himself. With an easy smile and a dulcet voice, Wooden recited for me one of the self-written poems he used to hypnotize himself:
What I remember most clearly from the John Wooden Basketball Encounter in 1984 -- attaching the word "camp" apparently wasn't special enough for the organizers and Wooden would never have allowed the word "fantasy"-- was the moment when the Wizard of Westwood first walked into the gym. There were about 40 of us, ranging in age from 35 to 65, sitting at attention in the bleachers at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse. We were like a gaggle of high school freshmen waiting for the first glimpse of The Coach, the half-man/half-god who would lead us to glorious victory and impart the secrets of manhood in the process.
Former UCLA Coach John Wooden passed away Friday June 4th. He is widely considered the greatest basketball coach of all time, and many believe he is the greatest coach of any sport. Wooden won ten national championships in his years 16 years at UCLA. A skilled player himself, Wooden is one of only three individuals (along with Lenny Wilkins and Bill Sharman) to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player and a coach.
If death had granted him a moment's reprieve to convey the sentiment, John Wooden would have declared his passing on June 4, 2010, at age 99, as a joyous transit. After the loss of his wife of 53 years, Nell, in March of 1985, the old UCLA coach came to regard life as essentially time to bide until he might be with her again. He had encamped with Nell at the Final Four, first as a conquering coach and then as a conventioneering one; but without her he couldn't bring himself even to go. For his first years as a widower Wooden slept atop the covers of their bed so as not to have to slip beneath them alone.
In May, a little more than a month after he took over as Memphis' head coach, Josh Pastner took a call from the legendary John Wooden, who wanted to impart some wisdom to his friend Lute Olson's former player and assistant. "[Coach Wooden] told me the best advice he had was to be patient," Pastner said. "The peaks and valleys will happen, but keep patient, keep an even keel, don't get too high on the highs and too low on the lows."
ENCINO, Calif. -- When I last visited John Wooden three years ago, he needed a cane to help him walk, but he moved so briskly I had to hurry to keep up. He told me he still drove once in a while, and throughout our conversation he was energetic and sharp. He was happy, he was funny, and his memory was so good, it was easy to forget he was 96 years old.
As we count down to Barack Obama's inauguration, it's clear there is an urgent need for a stimulus program of unprecedented proportion. Unlike our sluggish policy response to the financial crisis, we need to act boldly to stave off what otherwise threatens to be a brutal recession.
The decision of the men's basketball rules committee to move the three-point line back one foot, from 19-9 to 20-9, generated plenty of discussion this summer and fall. As the 2008-09 season has tipped off, the longer shot has been an irresistible storyline. How much of a difference would the new line have? Will it change the way teams play?
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Just two schools have won back-to-back NCAA titles since UCLA captured 10 of them (including seven in a row) between 1964 and 1975. Hence, one could argue that a coach who takes his team to three straight Final Fours has accomplished something that is, by modern standards, Woodenesque.
There's a reason ESPN named John Wooden "coach of the century." The former UCLA men's basketball coach led his team to a record ten NCAA men's championships, a tenure that opened the door to a second career as an authority on leadership - and, now, to the creation of an award at UCLA's Anderson School of Management in his name. Fortune's Andy Serwer was on hand when the coach, 97, presented the inaugural John Wooden Global Leadership Award to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, 55 (who at presstime announced plans to close hundreds of stores) - and talked with the heavy-hitters about what makes a great leader.
Tucked between Lot 6 and Drake Stadium, just a stone's throw from the Bruin Bear, sits the greatest venue in all of sports: Pauley Pavilion. It is where John Wooden used to roll up his game program and where Lew Alcindor honed his sky hook. It is where I slept out for games as a freshman and where I did radio play-by-play as a senior.
Growing up in Houston, Willie West loved baseball and pursued it with a passion. He was a switch-hitter with good speed, a strong arm and could play all four infield positions. He batted .394 and .495 as a junior and senior, respectively, for three-time Texas black-schools state champion Houston Yates before graduating in 1958.
Even at the ripe old age of 18 years and four months, Kevin Durant is in little need of a secondary career option. From the second he stepped on the floor at Texas, the freshman has overwhelmed Big 12 competition and opened a debate over whether he, and not Greg Oden, should be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Yet the soft-spoken Longhorns star admitted recently that he fancies himself an amateur meteorologist on the side. "I'm a big fan of weather, and whenever there's a storm rolling in, I go online and try to see where it's at, how it formed and where it's coming from," he said. "Ever since I watched the movie Twister with my mom as a kid, I've been interested."