UCLA basketball coach emeritus John Wooden was informed by his 9-year-old granddaughter that her coach wanted grandpa to come and talk to the girl's elementary school basketball team.
Wooden, who will celebrate his 84th birthday on Thursday, wanted to know whose idea it was.
"Both (of ours)," she responded, "but I said I'd ask you because you couldn't turn me down."
Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, doesn't put up much of a defense when friends and family put the touch on him.
He'll also be speaking at the fourth annual benefit dinner for the Cal State Northridge basketball program, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys.
Longtime Wooden friend and CSUN basketball coach, Pete Cassidy, invited him. In terms of local interest, it was a three-point play.
Cassidy, who's friendship with Wooden goes back 30 years, said Wooden's wisdom has helped him with coaching, as well as life's challenges. Cassidy says he wanted the former UCLA coach to share those insights with the community.
A couple of Wooden's tenets have been particularly meaningful, said Cassidy: Success is the peace of mind you get from doing the best you can at becoming the best you can, and don't worry about what you don't have, just do your best with what you have.
Cassidy said it sounds simple, but putting those strategies into your personal game book is difficult.
And it also sounds a bit disingenuous coming from a man who coached his Bruins to 10 national championships between 1964 and 1976 with guys like Lew Alcindor--a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Wooden knew how to recruit as well as shape and mold teams, Cassidy said.
Judging by the foot traffic to Wooden's Encino condominium, he still has the ability to show people how to meet life's problems without fouling out.
Cassidy said he visits with Wooden about twice monthly and is just one of dozens of friends, coaches and former players like Bill Walton and Abdul-Jabbar who regularly beat a path to Wooden's door.
And although he is no longer able to take the long walks he used to love, he keeps fit by riding a stationary bicycle. Wooden's body may be not as willing, but his mind is game-day focused and can still defend ideas with an intellectual full-court press, Cassidy said.
"Coach is a philosopher. He has a master's degree, as well as being a book writer and poet," Cassidy said. "He's comfortable with ideas and articulates them with a clarity that's always been a gift."
But Wooden doesn't seem to want any of his sports friends, particularly those who are now coaching, to think he's second-guessing them in any way.
"I once thanked him for a suggestion and he said it was not a suggestion, just a personal opinion," Cassidy said.
The fact that Wooden still attends every Bruin home basketball game, and that Cassidy's team meets UCLA at Pauley Pavilion Nov. 26, will not present any conflict, says Cassidy. Wooden's wisdom transcends basketball.
In other words, this is not just a basketball rally with food and a $50 price tag. It's an opportunity to listen to a motivational speaker who's a straight shooter.
"He gives a good talk. He's a good man. He can enlighten and entertain," said Cassidy, who added that anyone in the community can attend the Wooden speech.
Wooden's talk to his granddaughter's basketball team is, however, by invitation only. But they don't get dinner.
Then again, they don't have to pay $50 either.
'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman' Helps Heal the Local Economy
The California Film Commission says the production of programs like "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" is creating a healthy economy for communities surrounding Paramount Ranch, where that and other shows are filmed in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Vendors in Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village benefit richly from "Dr. Quinn," commission Director Patti Archuletta says.
She adds that a recent study by the Public Affairs Coalition of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers showed that Agoura Hills, for example, is getting some mighty big bucks.
During 1992, the alliance says $55 million was spent in Agoura Hills alone.
Sounds unbelievable. But alliance officials say the figure includes the salary of industry people, their personal purchases--including homes in the area--as well as production costs. The production costs themselves are interesting.
Archuletta says that in one year the "Dr. Quinn" production company spends more than $100,000 on lumber and $23,000 on gasoline. Each week, show producers spend $600 for horseshoes, $800 for bakery items and an unspecified dollar amount for the weekly purchase of 1,500 pounds of ice.
Fifteen hundreds pounds of ice?
What could any group outside of the Kings hockey team and a bunch of guys with badly overheating radiators be doing weekly with 1,500 pounds of the cold stuff?
Is someone studying cryonics?
Well, the actual explanation is not so exotic.
They use the ice to cool soft drinks for cast and crew members.