December 08, 2006

What John Wooden Gets Wrong About Basketball: "It is another Wooden contribution, however, that I fear will endure. … Wooden provided a framework for linking on-court play with virtue. A bounce pass is not just fundamentally sound, but somehow morally expedient; a missed dunk is a straight path to damnation. Leave aside some of the more repellent conclusions this might lead one to—it is simply a boring and blinkered way of watching a basketball game. This, ultimately, is John Wooden's legacy: He taught us to take a profane bit of beautiful exercise and turn it into church."

posted by Amateur to basketball at 08:30 PM - 10 comments

anyone who would bash John Wooden is a SCHMUCK!!!

posted by mars1 at 01:49 AM on December 09, 2006

Some of the off court information about Wooden during his coaching is new to me and interesting, but I feel like the author of this article is playing with a straw man here. I was watching highlights of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on YouTube just yesterday, and they were no stranger to the bounce pass, if that was the best play to be made. You can hate on Wooden's symbolism all you want, but he won games, alot of them, and if you're not willing to address that then your article is flawed in a fundamental way. My personal view of a more interesting spin on the article: What does it mean that a sanctimonious control-freak who thinks basketball should be like church is one of the most successful coaches of all time?

posted by chmurray at 06:01 AM on December 09, 2006

You know,the problem I have with critics is "How many goddamn basketball games have you won? If the answer is around zero maybe you should shut up.

posted by sickleguy at 10:18 AM on December 09, 2006

I fail to see the point of the article. It appears that Tommy Craggs had a severe case of 'diarrhea of the keyboard', and just couldn't think up anything better about which to rant. Wooden enjoyed greater success than any other coach of the era. That is enough to say about him. Any criticism about boosters must be disregarded, for their influence is, and always has been, nearly universal in big-time college athletics. The only thing I agree with is his statement that Red Auerbach ushered the professional game into the modern era. Of course, with the number of teams now in the NBA, the talent has been diluted to the point that the professional game is no longer fun to watch.

posted by Howard_T at 03:37 PM on December 09, 2006

a sanctimonious control freak You sir, are a fool. The link to the Rick Reilly story is much better. "Discipline yourself, and others won't need to." "Never lie, never cheat, never steal." "Earn the right to be proud and confident." "Never score without acknowledging a teammate." "Treat your opponent with respect." Good rules for life, as well as sport. No wonder he was so successful, and no wonder he is so loved by the men who played for him.

posted by mjkredliner at 08:02 PM on December 09, 2006

You sir, are a fool. I'm trying to spin the original article in a more interesting direction. While I do not personally would not characterize Wooden in that manner, I think that description is a pretty fair representation of what the author is trying to do. Apparently Wooden is bad for the game because "... —it is simply a boring and blinkered way of watching a basketball game." (!!!) The parallel being that Wooden's rules are a "boring and blinkered" way of living life, perhaps? It's not just aesthetic commentary, the author is deliberately inserting moral language into his characterization, apparently trying to play some "religion = bad, spontaneous creativity = good" duality where Wooden's rules for living don't jive with our cool modern relativity. 'Cause we're all like - englightened - up in here. Sigh, this is one of the reasons I hate Slate.

posted by chmurray at 08:22 PM on December 09, 2006

I apologize, chmurray. I read it wrong, apparently

posted by mjkredliner at 08:43 PM on December 09, 2006

I'm usually prone to be open about topics such as this, but that was a load of drivel. Pseudo-intellectual drivel.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:00 AM on December 11, 2006

To suggest that Wooden's insistence on morals and discipline made him regressive to the game is utter nonsense. Any student of the game knows Wooden struck that elusive balance between basketball fundamentalism and innovative methodologies. His goal as a coach is what makes him unique--he sought to do more than win games. He wanted to make boys into men who could suceed in life. Therefore he enforced disciplines he felt his players needed to accomplish that goal. In the end, that makes Wooden with all his traditionalism (at times overstated) a much better role model for life than many other "winning" coaches. You can take Wooden's rules--especially those pertaining to teammanship and sportsmanship--immediately incorporate them into the real world and be a winner. But, emulate the showboating individualistic nihilism of today's bonus babies and I gurantee you'll get fired from your job in the real world.

posted by ChiefsSuperFan at 03:20 PM on December 12, 2006

I guess 10 NCAA Basketball Championships, 27 first team All-Americans, a winning percentage of over 86% in the NCAA's isn't good for Basketball. I really don't understand anybody going after Coach. Coach Wooden lived as he preached day to day. He taught his students to always be prepared for whatever comes, be it in life or on the court. He had many players that disagreed with him but all will tell you today that he is still respected by anyone who knows basketball. What made UCLA so dominate for so many years was his ability to get the most all of his players. On the court or in life it was always the same for Coach. He was and always will be Coach. He did so many things for the UCLA program and the NCAA that all the coaches and players of todays program should continue to remember that the March Madness we know now started with the UCLA teams of 64 and 65. He and UCLA set a mark that will never be passed or equaled for that matter. Some other coaches have suggested that anybody could have done what he did with the talent that he had. Since 1975's NCAA Championship team there has been many talented teams playing and yet nobody has come even close to doing what the UCLA Bruins and Coach John Robert Wooden did in that span of 12 years with 10 National Championships. The NCAA should forever be thankful that we have had Coach aroound for as long as he has been here. I really think that even in todays' game his tactics, methods and the fundamental ways he attacked the game would be as successful as they were 30 years ago. Players change but remember one basic factor hasn't that being basketball is still basketball. Be it offense or defense without both you will never win.

posted by ucla512 at 11:28 AM on December 13, 2006

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