COACH WOODEN AND ME

OUR 50-YEAR FRIEND­SHIP ON AND OFF THE COURT

Inside Sport - - ONE ON ONE WITH... - BY KAREEMA BDULJAB BAR, LIT­TLE, BROWN &CO,$39.99

John Wooden is renowned in the niche of coach­ing icons, the man who cre­ated a dy­nasty at UCLA bas­ket­ball. But what set Wooden apart was his man­ner – not a side­line dic­ta­tor or a slick-talk­ing type, he in­stead was the coach as home­room teacher (which in­deed he was). Fa­mously, his first prac­tice for the sea­son al­ways be­gan with a les­son to his play­ers on the proper way to put on their socks.

On his way to hoops great­ness, Ka­reem Ab­dulJab­bar spent four years at UCLA. Then known as Lew Al­cin­dor, he was as dif­fer­ent to his coach as could be: young, mil­i­tant African-Amer­i­can from New York to home­spun Mid­west­erner. The two, how­ever, were kin­dred spir­its in their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the fun­da­men­tal.

In his post-bas­ket­ball life, Ab­dul-Jab­bar has forged a rep­u­ta­tion as a pub­lic in­tel­lec­tual, who has writ­ten about civil rights, so­cial his­tory and even a novel about My­croft Holmes. For him to write about Wooden was a nat­u­ral – but as Ka­reem says, only the pas­sage of time al­lowed him to com­pre­hend what his coach meant to him.

GOODFOR: Any­one who has a teacher they fondly re­mem­ber.

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