LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A bronze statue of the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden will be unveiled today outside Pauley Pavilion.
Chancellor Gene Block, Student Body President David Bocarsly, Jim Collins, who made what UCLA called a generous donation to make the statue possible, athletic director Dan Guerrero and Wooden’s children, Nan and Jim, will speak at the ceremony, set to begin at 2:30 p.m.
“This statue is a monument to a man who touched countless lives and showed us what it means to lead with integrity, humility, compassion and commitment,” Block said.
The statue was designed and sculpted by Blair Buswell, who has created more than 68 busts of inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and statues of such prominent athletes and coaches as Jack Nicklaus, Oscar Robertson, Doak Walker and Paul “Bear” Bryant.
The ceremony comes two days before the start of “Welcome Back Pauley Week,” a variety of events for UCLA fans, alumni, students and staff to mark the reopening of Pauley Pavilion following its closure in March 2011 for $136 million worth of renovations.
Wooden coached UCLA from 1948 to 1975, guiding the team to 10 NCAA championships in his final 12 seasons, including a record seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. The Bruins won 88 consecutive games from 1971 to 1974 and 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games from 1964 to 1974, both records.
The record Wooden said he was the most proud of were UCLA’s 19 conference championships.
Along with his coaching record, Wooden was known for the values he espoused and for integrity. He had three rules for his players — don’t use profanity, be on time and never criticize a teammate.
Wooden was born Oct. 14, 1910, in Hall, Ind., moving with his family to a small farm in Centerton, Ind., in 1918 and then to Martinsville, Ind., when he was 14. He helped lead Martinsville High School to Indiana’s state championship finals three consecutive years and the state championship in 1927.
Wooden was a three-time All-American and helped lead Purdue to two Big Ten championships and the 1932 national championship.
He began his coaching career in 1932 at Dayton (Ky.) High School, spending two years there, coaching a variety of sports. He spent the next nine years at South Bend (Ind.) Central High School, coaching basketball, baseball and tennis and teaching English.
Wooden served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46. He resumed his coaching career at Indiana State Teacher’s College, now Indiana State University, coaching basketball and baseball and serving as athletic director for two years
In 1948, Wooden was offered coaching positions by both UCLA and Minnesota. He was prepared to accept the offer from Minnesota, but when Minnesota failed to call by a stipulated deadline, Wooden accepted UCLA’s offer.
A Minnesota official called minutes later, explaining he had had trouble getting to a telephone because of a snowstorm and that the school still wanted to hire him. But Wooden refused to break the promise he had made to UCLA minutes earlier.
His long list of honors includes the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, being named by ESPN as the greatest coach of the 20th century, and having a post office and high school named for him in Reseda. He also was the first person selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
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