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99 things about John Wooden

October 14, 2009|Mike Penner

In honor of John Wooden's 99th birthday, here are 99 things you may, or may not, know about the legendary former UCLA basketball coach:

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

2. Wooden led Martinsville High to the Indiana state title in 1927 and runner-up finishes in 1926 and 1928.

3. As a boy, 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 a small ceremony in Indianapolis 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. After high school, Wooden enrolled at Purdue, where he won varsity letters in basketball and baseball his freshman year and earned All-American honors as a guard on the basketball team in 1930-32.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, October 15, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
John Wooden: An article in Wednesday's Sports section listing 99 facts about former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden listed Wooden's birthplace as Martinsville, Ind. He was born in Hall, Ind.

9. He was a three-time consensus All-American.

10. Wooden was captain of Purdue's basketball teams in 1931 and 1932 and 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 philosophical 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 with the Indiana Kautskys (later the Indianapolis Jets), Whiting Ciesar All-Americans and Hammond Ciesar All-Americans while teaching and coaching in high school.

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 went 6-11, his only losing record as a coach.

17. Wooden went on to coach basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend Central High in Indiana and taught English for nine years. 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 before moving to UCLA.

20. At Indiana State, Wooden also coached baseball, served as athletic director, taught and completed his master's degree in education.

21. Another quote from Wooden: "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow."

22. In 1947, Wooden's basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players. A member of the Sycamores' team was Clarence Walker, an African American from East Chicago, Ind.

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'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.

30. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories, later joined by Bill Sharman and Lenny Wilkens.

31. Another quote from Wooden: "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."

32. At UCLA, Wooden became known as the "Wizard of Westwood," though he disliked the nickname.

33. He gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 664 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons.

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 also 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 magazine'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 surprisingly announced his retirement after a 75-74 NCAA semifinal victory over Louisville and before his 10th national championship game victory over Kentucky.

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