John Wooden was a ___?

June15/ 2000

John Wooden was a ….. Republican, Democrat, liberal loon, right-wing fanatic ???  99 years of articles and comments and never a single reference to his personal politics. …. How cool is THAT!  Both sides will, of course, clamor to claim him. …… Speaking of “clamor” – BobLee has a kicking “what if” to that recent baseball umpire snafu that sent the sports world en fuego.

Until recently I only had a general knowledge of John Wooden.  His glory years at UCLA corresponded with my “rabid about UNC Basketball” days so I tended to view him cynically.

John Wooden OBVIOUSLY cheated in recruiting Lew Alcindor.  He OBVIOUSLY knew full well what Sam Gilbert was doing in his hot tub.  He was a satanic, lyin’ cheatin’ dirty bird sitting there smugly with his rolled-up program.  Otherwise ….. of course, Deano and his blessed boys in blue would have earned their rightful accolades as America’s premier college BB dynasty of the late 60s-early 70s. ….. OBVIOUSLY!

Yes, BobLee was once deaf, dumb and blinded by rabid sports partisanship.  I can speak eloquently on the folly of such insanity because I’ve “been there and done that”.

As “The Wizard” retired and Deano achieved his own accolades in the ethereal pantheon of sports, my gritty contempt for John Wooden dissipated.

My gritty contempt for John Wooden dissipated.

He was no longer a threat to me or mine.  Then 7-8 years ago, my travels along the highways and byways of cyberspace crossed paths with an incredible gentleman – “CPR”.

I have referenced him obliquely on occasions and do so now.  He has a name – several in fact – but lets just use CPR today.

Quite simply he has more first and second hand knowledge of the American sports scene over the past 75 years than any 256 living souls you want to put up against him.  I call him “the Forrest Gump” of American sports.  He has been “around” when anything of significance happened.  Thru 100s of lengthy late night discussions on an encyclopedic list of subjects we have a fraternal bond that I share with ….. well, with no one else.  We started “finishing each others’ sentences” a few years ago.

To today’s subject …… CPR worked closely with John Wooden in the 60s (as well as with various other Hall Of Famers ).  His input was significant in developing both Wooden’s Basketball and Life strategies.    CPR knew “Nell” and shared the inner circle of mentors that molded John Wooden back in Indiana in the 40s and 50s.   I’m convinced CPR held the ladder as Dr Naismith hung his first peach basket in the Springfield YMCA …..

CPR says Wooden’s 1968 team was “His best of the best”.   That’s good enough for me.

CPR also tells me John Wooden was “The Real Deal”.  Not “perfect” and not void of the innate shortcomings that plague us all, but able to subjugate them better than most of us can.  Wooden did read his own homilies and practiced them daily.  As does CPR.

If anyone DOES know John Wooden’s “politics” it might be CPR.  I DO know CPR’s.  We’re “closer than brothers” so you can connect those dots yourself.

BobLee, why was Wooden involved in that Campbell BB camp for so many years?”  He and Nell used those few weeks each summer as a secluded “get-away” from the hassles of LA. It was very special for them.

Deano, as well chronicled, wore his “politics” very publicly on his sleeve …. and that worked for him.  Positively so with many in Chapel Hill, less positively as one moved concentrically outward from Franklin Street. Few, if any, high profile coaches have chosen to emulate Dean.  Few, if any, will ever be seen in the “living sainthood” aura that John Wooden attained.

I’m not sure what this means.  A man’s gotta dance to the beat of his own drum.  You can ponder it.


The upcoming World Cup and “the oil spill” dropped below the fold this past week as Earth discussed “the bad call that umpire made”.  If you don’t know about it …… welcome back from your nap, Mr Van Winkle.

An MLB base umpire (you’ve never heard of) called a runner (you’ve never heard of) safe at first when replay showed the throw was in time.  Ergo, a pitcher (you’ve never heard of) lost “a perfect game”.   The pitcher still won the game but it was neither a no-hitter nor the elusive “perfect game”.

“Perfect games” happen in major league baseball as often as the Orioles win a game ….. about once-a-month, at least this season.

The resultant “clamor” of course is to behead and gut Commissioner Bud Selig because ……. because Bud looks like Mr Burns in The Simpsons.  Every sports admin is “hated” as part of the job description.  Bud would be hated regardless.  Dickie Baddour and Lee Fowler even hate Bud.  You’d think they would have empathy.

Bud refuses to reverse the erroneous call.  The one-hitter stands.  General Motors gave the maligned pitcher a new Corvette and for three days he was somebody.  The beleaguered umpire cried and said he was “sorry”.  Bill Klem and Augie Donatelli never cried OR said they were sorry.  Don Denkinger laughed.

I agree with Bud.  “The human factor” is the essence of silly stuff like sports events.  Humans play the game and humans should officiate the game.  OK, some question the “humanity” of refs and umpires.

Taking away the “blame the officials” option will deprive fans of a convenient excuse for their team not winning.  Erroneous calls by refs and umps even out over time. The one exception is any contest involving NC State.  It is well-documented – ALL refs and umps “hate the Wolfpack” and are “out to get them”. Who knows why.  They just are.

If MLB replaces a myopic umpire’s questionable eyesight with some high tech gizmo, the losing fans will simply blame the manufacturer of the gizmo.  Disgruntled fans  will not be denied their disgrunt.

What if – “that play at first” had been the reverse – “the runner was clearly SAFE but called OUT.”  In that case, would the “perfect game” be legitimate ???   Do we still feel sorry for the pitcher and give him the Corvette?

WWJWD – What would John Wooden do ?

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x